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Spotlight victory

BYU football team draws national attention after nipping Oklahoma

BYU's 14-13 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, Sept. 5, vaulted the Cougars into a brighter national spotlight than they have enjoyed for some time.

The win over No. 3 Oklahoma raised BYU to No. 9 in the latest Associated Press college football poll after being ranked 20th in the preseason poll. It was the Cougars' first win over a top-10 non-conference team since they beat No. 1 Miami, 28-21, in the second game of the 1990 season.

Celebrating BYU's second touchdown of the game against Oklahoma, Dennis Pitta, left, hugs teammate McKay Jacobson, who snagged the 4th-quarter touchdown pass that set up the game-winning extra point by Mitch Payne.
Celebrating BYU's second touchdown of the game against Oklahoma, Dennis Pitta, left, hugs teammate McKay Jacobson, who snagged the 4th-quarter touchdown pass that set up the game-winning extra point by Mitch Payne. Photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

With their hard-fought, nationally televised contest, BYU and Oklahoma helped open lavish Cowboys Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas, in front of 75,437 fans. The first college game played in the stadium came prior to the Cowboys' first regular-season home game, scheduled for Sept. 20.

BYU trailed Oklahoma 13-7 with just more than three minutes left in the game when senior quarterback Max Hall hit sophomore wide receiver McKay Jacobson, open in the back of the end zone, with the 7-yard, game-winning pass. Jacobson, a native of Southlake, Texas, returned within the year from a mission to Japan.

The BYU defense, which had been stellar the entire game, then sealed the victory, holding the Sooners and forcing them to try a failed, long field-goal attempt in the final minutes.

A key play in the game came toward the end of the first half when Oklahoma's Hesiman Trophy-winning quarterback Sam Bradford sprained his shoulder when he was tackled by BYU linebacker Coleby Clawson. Bradford watched the rest of the game from the sideline.

BYU players celebrate their 14-13 win over Oklahoma in Texas' Cowboys Stadium.
BYU players celebrate their 14-13 win over Oklahoma in Texas' Cowboys Stadium. Photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

BYU was missing one of its key players, running back Harvey Unga, who did not play due to a hamstring injury.

BYU was named the "Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week" by the Football Writers Association of America. The Cougars beat out such teams as Alabama, a 34-24 winner over Virginia Tech and the University of Utah's victim in January's Sugar Bowl, and Miami, a 38-34 upset winner over Florida State, which is BYU's opponent in its home opener Sept. 19.

In 1984, BYU won the national championship after an undefeated season.

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