Best-ever bowl comeback still belongs to BYU


            Some are calling Colorado State’s 48-45 win in the New Mexico Bowl the best bowl comeback ever.

            It certainly makes a good case. It took two touchdowns, a 2-point conversion and a field goal in the final three minutes to get the Rams a win over Washington State.

             Still, it wasn’t better than the 1980 Holiday Bowl. In that game, BYU overcame a 20-point deficit in under four minutes.  

        BYU had cut SMU’s led to 38-25, but then gave up a touchdown that made the score 45-25. At that point the stadium was almost devoid of fans.

            Colorado State’s winning points against WSU came on a 41-yard field goal as time ran out.  But in BYU’s memorable Holiday Bowl, Jim McMahon threw a pass from midfield on the game’s final regulation play, to tie the score. The PAT provided the winning margin.  

            As to whether CSU’s Statue of Liberty play or McMahon’s “Hail Mary” was more exciting, that’s entirely subjective.

            Having covered the ’80 Holiday Bowl, I’m still going to stick with it as the best bowl comeback ever.

            If you have a better one, make sure to post a comment on it.

[poll id=”334″]


  1. Mark Freckleton

    At the end the stadium was half full, but 95% of those who remained were from Texas. As play began with 3 seconds left I remember thinking – “well, at least they made it respectable.” Since BYU had never won a bowl game at that time, the fact they might win this game was not even thinkable.

    Half of the party I came with left with five minutes left and missed out. I had driven in from L.A. through rush-hour traffic on the 405 and was not about to leave early. Afterward I walked around with my jacket open so all those guys in stetsons could see my BYU sweat shirt. It felt amazing.

  2. Dan Taylor

    I was a member of the BYU marching band at this game playing trumpet. I have to admit many of us were begging the band director to let us go back to the Hotel before this game was over. Thank you Dr. Bacheldor for not listening to us. I witnessed the best comeback game in college football history from the endzone under the scoreboard that day. It is obvious that those voting for the other game are to young to have seen or appreciated the BYU game from the past but it is clearly with out a doubt the best in history and I was part of it.

  3. ron bates

    I was at the game and left after SMU scored 45-25. I haven’t left a game early since or turned off the TV, watch to the end. I listed to the game on the radio on the way home and that was amazing, I wish I would have stayed. On of the best bowl games ever. it should get mentioned with other great finishes. The Flutie pass wasn’t any better.

  4. Ken

    What you need to remember about the ’80 Holiday Bowl win is that it was against a quality team with All-American/6 time pro-bowler Eric Dickerson and another Pro-bowler in Craig James. Both players had an outstanding game and outstanding careers. It’s fun to re-watch this game and listen to the broadcaster’s commentary as they were already patting SMU on the back for the last quarter or so. Interestingly amongst those who left early were Clay Brown’s parents. Good thing for the re-runs!

  5. Jim Meyer

    I was watching on TV in Provo and became so discouraged I left the room about the beginning of the 4th quarter. For some reason I came back to the TV with about 5 minutes left. There has not been a comeback to compare to that since. Completely unbelievable. No other comeback even comes close.

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