The 1983 Cougars are in the shadow of the National Championship team, but the team deserves praise of its own. BYU rolled to an 11-1 season and seventh overall in the AP poll by the year’s end. In Steve Young’s last season, the Cougars racked up the second-highest scoring total per game in the nation and capped the season off with a win over a middling Missouri team in the Holiday Bowl. Here’s a look at the third-best BYU football season of all-time:
Biggest moment: UCLA didn’t look like much of a contender heading into the fourth week of the season, but a win over the Bruins would end up being the most important for BYU that year. UCLA was winless with losses against Georgia and Nebraska and a tie against Arizona State, before falling to BYU 37-35. UCLA would go on to rebound for the rest of the season, winning six of seven games on the way to a Rose Bowl drubbing of Illinois. BYU’s strength of schedule was boosted later on in the season and the afterglow of the win helped set the Cougars up for a national title run in the eyes of voters the following season.
Lowest point: The lone loss of 1983 came in week one on a road trip against Baylor. The Bears needed 75 yards to score, with BYU leading 36-33 with less than four minutes to go. Baylor engineered a long drive against a tired BYU defense, capped by a plunging touchdown from Alfred Anderson. The Cougars missed an opportunity to go undefeated and grab a quality win over an out of conference opponent.
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Season MVP: Possibly the most athletically talented quarterback that Edwards ever had, Steve Young was the epitome of physical talent and leadership. Young tossed 33 touchdowns to 10 interceptions with 3,902 yards through the air and a 71 percent completion percentage. He was also a dual threat, rushing for 444 yards and eight touchdowns for a total of 41 touchdowns from scrimmage.
Legacy: 1983 may be the sidekick to 1984, but this Cougar team laid the foundation for their successors to win the National Championship. Young was phenomenal all season and went on to have quite the NFL career, while the UCLA and even Missouri wins elevated BYU’s status in the national picture.