BYU Bowl Games | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

BYU Bowl Games


12.19.80 San Diego, California (50,200) 

No. 14 BYU 46
No. 19 SMU 45

One observer said the 1980 Holiday Bowl was actually two ball games--a contest which lasted most of four quarters and another of four minutes duration. SMU controlled the “first game,” leaving the Cougars behind 20 points with only minutes remaining. Unfortunately, many fans either turned off their TV sets or left the stadium in San Diego before the “second game” began. In the final four minutes, BYU surged to a stunning 46-45 win. For 56 minutes the Mustangs taught the Cougars a lesson in running the football. The Mustangs’ two great running backs, Craig James and Eric Dickerson, rushed for a combined total of 335 yards. With 4:07 remaining in the game, SMU scored to go ahead, 45-25. From there the Cougars connected on a TD pass, recovered an on-side kick, scored on a one-yard run by Scott Phillips, blocked a punt. Finally, with three seconds left on the clock, Jim McMahon connected on a “Hail Mary” pass of 41 yards to Clay Brown. With the score tied, Kurt Gunther kicked the extra point to send BYU fans streaming onto the field. McMahon was 32 of 49 passes for 446 yards. It may have been the most exciting bowl game ever, with the Cougars getting 21 points in the final 2:33. Ironically, four passes on conversion attempts had failed before McMahon hit Phillips after the next-to-last touchdown to cut a 45-31 deficit to 45-39 and put the Cougars in a position to win the game with one more score. The 50-yard drive was set up when Todd Shell recovered a Brent Johnson on-side-kick at midfield. SMU got the ball back with 1:57 but had to punt. The kick was blocked by defensive back Bill Schoepflin and recovered by the SMU punter, Eric Kaifes, with 13 seconds left. McMahon threw one incomplete pass intended for Brown and another for Lloyd Jones before unleashing the famous pass to Brown in the end zone with no time left on the clock.

Rushes-Yards 24-(-2) 66-393
Passing Yards 446 53
Passes 32-49-1 6-11-0
SMU Dickerson 15-yard run 
SMU James 45-yard run
SMU Safety
SMU 42-yard FG
BYU Brown 64-yard pass from McMahon (kick)
SMU James 3-yard pass from Mcllhenny (kick)
SMU Garcia 44-yard FG
BYU Sikahema 83-yard punt return (2 pt. failed)
SMU Dickerson 1-yard run (2 pt. failed)
BYU Brown 13-yard pass from McMahon (2 pt. failed)
SMU Garcia 42-yard FG
BYU Phillips 1-yard run (2 pt. failed) 
SMU James 42-yard run (kick)
BYU Braga 15-yard pass from McMahon (2 pt. failed)
BYU Phillips 1-yard run (2 pt.)
BYU Brown 41-yard pass from McMahon (kick)
No. 14 BYU 7 6 6 27 46
No. 19 SMU 19 10 9 7 45