BYU was dominant once again in 1996 under LaVell Edwards, finishing with its second highest AP ranking ever and a 13-1 regular season record over a tough schedule. The Cougars started the season with a hard fought win over 13th ranked Texas A&M and finished it with a win over 14th ranked Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, again riding an explosive offense and reliable defense to success. The 1996 team saw the end of an era as Edwards would never reach double digit wins in Provo again, allowing the legendary coach to leave with a bang.
Here’s a look at the second-best BYU football season of all-time:
Biggest moment: BYU’s win in the Cotton Bowl was important, but the most important win of the season came with a 28-25 overtime win over 20th ranked Wyoming for the WAC Championship. The Cougars sent the game into overtime and following a field goal miss from Wyoming, kicker Ethan Pochman buried a field goal of his own to win the game.
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Lowest point: In a week three matchup with Washington, BYU was simply outclassed by a tough opponent from a better conference. The Cougars went down 29-17, ending the dream of another perfect season.
Season MVP: Quarterback Steve Sarkisian, the current head coach at USC, was another in a long line of successful BYU quarterbacks, throwing 33 touchdowns to 12 interceptions and 4,027 yards with a 68.8 completion percentage. Runningbacks Ronney Jenkins and Brian McKenzie also earned recognition, rolling for a combined 25 touchdowns and 1,961 yards from scrimmage.
Legacy: This BYU team was the last bowl winning team under Edwards and the last double digit winning team for the head coach. After more than two decades in Provo, this team showed the Edwards could still coach an incredible offense and hang with the best programs in the country. The 1996 team also secured the best overall AP end of season ranking since the National Championship team and the second highest AP ranking in BYU program history.