The 2006 Cougars are the best of the modern era under Bronco Mendenhall, a season in which BYU cruised to an 11-2 record, beat an ascending Oregon team in the Las Vegas Bowl and beat Utah at Rice-Eccles with a last-second pass. The Cougars scored at least 30 points in all but three games on the way to the fifth best points scored differential in college football, while holding opponents to under 20 points in 10 games, good for the 10th best points against average. Here’s a look at the fifth-best BYU football season of all-time:
Biggest moment: The Cougars beat Oregon and ended a 13-game winning streak by 17th ranked TCU, but the victory over Utah was the highlight of that season. At the time, BYU had lost four straight to the Utes, including in overtime the previous season. Trailing 27-31 with only three seconds left, quarterback John Beck faded to the left, directing traffic and under pressure, rolled back to his right before unleashing an off balance throw to tight end Jonny Harline. Harline caught the 11-yard pass for a touchdown, winning the game 33-31 for the Cougars. Beck finished the game with 375 yards passing and four touchdowns, while Harline had 118 yards and three touchdowns of his own. <freeform>
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Lowest point: Slow out of the gate that season, BYU stumbled to a 16-13 loss to Arizona in Tucson in week one. It was BYU’s lowest point total of the season, with only one touchdown despite 289 yards of offense and two field goals. Arizona kicker Nick Folk buried a 48-yard field goal on the last play of the game to secure the victory. The Wildcats went on to only a 6-6 record, hurting BYU’s overall resume.
Season MVP: Beck was another in the mold of successful Cougar QB’s, racking up 3,885 yards passing and 32 touchdowns to eight interceptions in 2006. He also rushed for six touchdowns and commanded another prolific offense. He was consistent and accurate throughout the season and was clutch when it mattered most, delivering 375 yards passing and four touchdowns against Utah.
Legacy: The 2006 team won 10 straight games, losing only twice to Arizona and on the road to 23rd ranked Boston College led by Matt Ryan. These Cougars ended a four game slide against Utah, beat a tough TCU team and beat an Oregon team that would go on to win at least nine games every year in the next seven seasons. BYU went on to win two of the next three in the rivalry game.