Winning the first game of the season has steadily become a staple of BYU football in recent years. The Cougars head into Saturday’s game against Nebraska having won seven of their last eight season openers—and the majority of those wins were no cakewalks. Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Arizona and Washington have each fallen victim to Bronco Mendenhall’s team since 2007.
The following is a video recap highlighting BYU’s last six season openers. Hopefully it can wet your football appetite before the Cougars clash with the Huskers (Sat. 1:30 PM MDT; ABC).
BYU 14 Oklahoma 13 (Sept. 5, 2009)
BYU had the privilege of opening up “Jerry World” in 2009 when they played the first-ever (non-exhibition) football game in AT&T Stadium against No. 3 Oklahoma.
A big hit from linebacker Coleby Clawson knocked reigning Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford out of the game in the second quarter, forcing Oklahoma to turn to freshman quarterback Landry Jones for the second half. BYU’s Max Hall delivered a 7-yard touchdown strike to McKay Jacobson with 3:03 remaining to upset the Sooners in Dallas.
BYU 23 Washington 17 (Sept. 4, 2010)
The Cougars found themselves in the awkward position of juggling between quarterbacks Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps against Washington in the first game of the post-Hall era. Nelson stepped up with two touchdown passes, and the defense halted the Huskies’ comeback by tipping away Jake Locker’s fourth down pass in the game’s waning moments.
BYU 14 Ole Miss 13 (Sept. 3, 2011)
The game in Oxford marked BYU’s first meeting with an SEC opponent since beating Mississippi State 41-38 back in 2001.
Trailing 13-0 in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jake Heaps finally got the Cougars on the board when he tossed a 19-yard touchdown to Ross Apo with 9:52 to go. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jameson Frazier then proceeded to burn a pair of Rebel pass blockers on the ensuing drive, knocking the ball loose from quarterback Zack Stoudt. Van Noy scooped up the fumble before stumbling into the end zone for the go-ahead score.
BYU 30 Washington State 6 (Aug. 30, 2012)
Mike Leach’s debut at Washington State was spoiled by a dominant performance from Riley Nelson, Kaneakua Friel, and a tough BYU defensive unit.
Nelson was an efficient 25-of-36 passing for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns, and freshman quarterback Taysom Hill added an 18-yard touchdown throw on his first pass as a Cougar.
BYU 16 Virginia 19 (Aug. 31, 2013)
The only season-opening blemish for the Cougars over the last eight years came in the form of a 16-19 rain-soaked defeat at Virginia in 2013.
Despite having gift-wrapped the Cavaliers points on a blocked punt and fumbled snap, BYU still found themselves in position to escape Charlottesville with an ugly win. Up 16-12 with 2:53 remaining, Taysom Hill’s third-down pass slipped through the fingers of running back Jamaal Williams and into the hands of the Virginia defense, who returned the ball back to the BYU 13. Cavalier running back Kevin Parks scored the game-winning touchdown on the very next play, upsetting the Cougars in what would be the first of only two wins for Virginia in 2013.
BYU 35 UConn 10 (Aug. 29, 2014)
BYU began last season eager to erase the memory of the previous year’s opening dud. The Cougars followed an early UConn fumble with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Taysom Hill to receiver Mitch Matthews, putting the Huskies in a 14-0 hole.
BYU’s offense continued their dominating performance, and their 513 yards of total offense proved more than enough for a defense that held the Huskies to 10 points.