On Saturday morning, around nine, I was walking up to my front door, and I thought to myself, “Today is September 5th, 2009. If the Cougars walk away with a win today, that’s a date I will remember for a long time.”
Turns out, that date is one that I, and most of the college football Nation will remember for a very long time. #20 BYU was set to play #3 Oklahoma at the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas. As a Cougar, I had high hopes for the day, but kept reminding myself of what was realistic. Sure, I dreamt that perhaps somehow we would upset the Sooners, rise to #1 in the polls, and manna would appear on the field at Lavell Edwards Stadium every week thereafter. The line I gave to my non-Cougar friends was that if BYU ended up beating the spread (22.5 points) that I would consider it a victory.
My bleed-blue die-hard Cougar self reminded me that Oklahoma has lost in recent years to TCU and to Boise State. But then again, Max Hall seemed to implode in the big games at the end of last season. So what was I to expect, really? The field was wide open. Everything from a ginormous upset to being absolutely embarrassed by the Sooners seemed quite plausible.
As the Cougars entered the stadium, I got excited. In the first quarter, I saw an Oklahoma that was vulnerable. We were moving the ball reasonably well, and the Sooners O-line was jittery. We had held Bradford to 3-and-out a couple of times.
In the second quarter, we saw mistakes on both sides, and a touchdown on both sides. Bradford went down, and my Cougar instinct was roaring approval at the fortunate turn of events. Quickly though, my humanity came through and I hoped that Bradford would recover as soon as possible (after the game). We went into the half down 10-7. Max Hall was caught by the ESPN cameras, shouting to the crowd, “We’re going to win!!!” And in my heart, I believed him.
In the third quarter, more mistakes and frustrations on both sides- offensively. Both defenses were getting the job done. BYU’s defense comes up with a 6-play goal line stand, including a 1st and goal from the 2 because of pass interference. Somehow, they managed to keep Oklahoma’s two 1,000 yard rushers out of the end zone, and the Sooners settled for a field goal.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, Max Hall showed us that he, too, has found a way to access the stores of magic that BYU quarterbacks of the past have been able to dip into, as he orchestrated perhaps the greatest drive of his career. He was 9/10 passing on a 78-yard drive, that included a couple of 3rd down conversions and a fourth down conversion. Hall called the plays, and hooked up time and again with his brother-in-law, Dennis Pitta. Finally, he capped the drive with a touchdown pass to McKay Jacobson, as many Sooner defenders keyed on Pitta and left Jacobson alone in the back of the endzone.
One long shot, missed field goal later, and the rest is history. BYU wins 14-13. My greatest hopes for the game were realized. Bronco Mendenhall, Max Hall, and the rest of the BYU Cougars had just defeated the mighty Oklahoma Sooners. How long will we remember September 5th, 2009? It will depend on how well the Cougars play the rest of the season, and how soon Sam Bradford is able to recover.