It all came together with a fourth quarter comeback in 1984 when BYU played Michigan for the first and only time. That one and only game left a legacy that will never be forgotten.
BYU hopes to continue that legacy this weekend as it takes on Michigan at the “Big House.” The Cougars are now 2-1 and ranked #22 in the AP poll after their tough loss against UCLA. BYU proved it has a good team in the game against UCLA. The Cougars also proved they are more than just last second Hail Mary’s.
“We have respect at this point nationally,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “You have to keep earning it and you have keep playing well.”
When BYU first played Michigan, the Robbie Bosco-led Cougars gained the national respect by beating the Michigan Wolverines in the 1984 Holiday Bowl to claim their first-ever national championship. This game was different from current national championship games because both teams were not playing for a national Headline, only BYU.
Since BYU beat Michigan they were voted as the number one team in the nation in both the AP poll and the Coaches poll. The number one ranking earned them the national Headline and the Cougars finished the 1984 season with a 13-0 record. All this was part of what would start to define the legacy of BYU and the legendary coach, Lavell Edwards.
Quarterback Tanner Mangum also hopes to continue the legacy after finishing the UCLA game 30-of-47 passing with 244 passing yards and one touchdown. The running backs also played better against the Bruins than they did against Boise State. Adam Hine finished the game with 149 rushing yards setting a new career record. The defense also came up with three interceptions, two of those coming from linebacker Harvey Langi.
But BYU will have to make some adjustments on defense in order to stop the run-heavy Michigan offense. Defensive lineman Graham Rowley said they are ready for it.
“You just dig into the dirt and power back. I’m excited for that,” Rowley said in a media release on byucougars.com.
UCLA’s rushing attack is what killed the Cougars in their loss last weekend. The Cougars will have a chance to beat the Wolverines if they can play consistently through four quarters and not give up big plays.
Michigan played UNLV this past weekend laying the hammer down on the Rebels. The Wolverines won 28-7 with an impressive 254 rushing yards. Michigan running back Ty Isaac had 114 rushing yards on only eight carries. The Cougar front line defense will need to be prepared for a heavy rushing attack from the Wolverines. Michigan is averaging 185 rushing yards per game so far this season.
The Michigan passing game, however, suffered from a lackluster performance against UNLV. Michigan finished the game with only 123 passing yards and one interception. This wasn’t the only time their passing game struggled. Michigan struggled against Utah throwing three interceptions and then only 180 passing yards against Oregon State the next week.
BYU and Michigan are set to meet at Michigan Stadium nicknamed the “Big House.” Michigan’s stadium is the largest football stadium in the United States. It is known for hosting crowds of about 115,000. That’s bigger than all the NFL stadiums; the largest NFL stadium is AT&T Stadium, which holds 85,000.
This is another game set on a big stage in a big house with large expectations following the Cougars. Michigan will still prove to be a tough test and if BYU wants a chance at a New Year’s Six bowl game, this is a must win.