With such high expectations coming into the season, BYU Football has not performed on par.
A ten-game winning streak for BYU this season was not a crazy prediction. In fact, most fans would agree that out of the past three seasons, 2022 had the greatest potential. In addition to a manageable schedule, experienced coaches, and a roster that returned the most talent in the
nation, the team won ten games each of the last two seasons.
But BYU is sitting at 4-4 with no signs of winning many more games. Where does this season stack up with other historically tough seasons? Here are a few candidates.
There will be many who will claim that 2017 was the worst year for BYU Football. This was BYU’s first bowl game absence in 15 years, and it was also the most recent. In 2017, the Cougars went 4-9 and lost to East Carolina, Utah State, Boise State, and UMass. Yes, UMass beat the Cougars in Provo. Despite the embarrassing losses, nobody really expected much from BYU. Kalani Sitake was in his second season and had a ton of young talent. Older players were all recruited by Mendhenhall and were playing outside their scheme.
In 2014, the low was not so much a bad team or a team underperforming, but a heartbreaking injury to Taysom Hill. With their toughest tests behind them, BYU could have easily run the table and found themselves in a NY6 bowl after starting the season 4-0. There is no need to tell you what happened next. Taysom broke his leg and the Cougars lost the next four games. Though this may have been one of the biggest “what if” seasons of all time, BYU won their final four regular season games before losing in overtime in Miami Beach.
1990 and 1991
In some ways, 1990 and 1991 seem the most similar to 2022. The Cougars started 1990 with a 5-0 record and beat No. 1 Miami. It seemed like BYU could repeat its 1984 season with Heisman trophy winning quarterback Ty Detmer at the helm. All that ended with a tough loss to, you guessed it, Oregon.
Ty Detmer returned to the team in 1991, and the expectations were sky high. The Cougars’ dreams were quickly crushed as they lost their first three games of the season, although all against ranked opponents. Even though BYU didn’t lose another game the rest of the season, the damage was done.
Unless you are over 80 years old, you probably never heard or saw about the 1949 squad. BYU went 0-11 in 1949, their only official winless season. To make matters worse, their closest games were a 16-14 loss to Colorado State and a 27-13 loss to Pacific Fleet, which in my research no longer exists and certainly does not have football. There must be no lower low than this, right?
I’m not so sure. BYU Football wasn’t supposed to be good at this time. Outside of fans attending games and reading about it in the newspaper, no one knew about the games.
Early in the season, it looked like BYU would be playing in a New Year Six Bowl game. Oregon had been blown out by Georgia, Notre Dame started 1-2, and G5’s including Boise State and Utah State appeared to really struggle.
Fast forward ahead to now and BYU is 1-3 against P5 games, and just experienced one of the most embarrassing losses in program history falling 41-14 to Liberty. In the past two seasons the team went 20-4, leaving fans wondering, what happened to them? Could this be the lowest of lows for BYU Football fans? There is an argument to be made for that answer, but it is complicated.
It will be important to see how BYU finishes the season. It is hard to argue against this season being the most disappointing if BYU does not make a bowl game. If BYU finishes 9-4, although still upsetting, it would likely not be viewed as the worst ever.
What do you think? All of the seasons mentioned have a valid argument to be the toughest season depending on the angle it is looked at. When do you think BYU’s most disappointing season was?