Greatest Game

BYU Classic Football Face-off: BYU/Texas A&M (1996) vs. BYU/Air Force (1985)

2013-07-22T03:00:00Z 2013-11-06T21:45:36Z BYU Classic Football Face-off: BYU/Texas A&M (1996) vs. BYU/Air Force (1985)Jared Lloyd - Daily Herald Daily Herald
July 22, 2013 3:00 am  • 

The field has been narrowed as we get closer to determining the greatest BYU football game ever — and it's all up to you.

This matchup features the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the Home Games region, a dramatic offensive shootout and a game impacted by a big special teams play.

(Click here to see the entire bracket)

Which one will move on and which one will be eliminated? Be sure to cast your vote in the poll on the right side of the screen to decide which of these was the greater moment for BYU football.

Here is a look at today's matchup:

No. 2 seed

BYU 41, Texas A&M 37 (1996)

Records and AP ranking (entering the game): BYU 0-0 (NR), Texas A&M 0-0 (No. 13)

What happened: The Aggies came to Provo for the Pigskin Classic with quite a bit of hype, while the Cougars were barely a blip on the national radar. Texas A&M came out strong as it took at 20-6 lead midway through the second quarter, but BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian tossed two touchdown passes to tie the game at the half. The two teams went back and forth in the second half with the Aggies edging out to a late lead on a 52-yard field goal. The Cougars went back in front on another Sarkisian TD pass, then a fumbled snap allowed BYU to secure the win.

Signature play: With just over a minute to play, Sarkisian dropped back and fired deep to K.O. Kealaluhi down the left sideline. Kealaluhi hauled it in behind the Texas A&M defense and took it in for the 45-yard touchdown. After crossing the goal line, he slid to the ground with the ball held above him in celebration as his teammates mobbed him.

What it meant: The win over the Aggies propelled the Cougars into the Top 25 and on their way to another phenomenal season, one in which they would win a school-record 14 games and end up as the No. 5-ranked team in the country.

No. 3 seed

BYU 28, Air Force 21 (1985)

Records and AP ranking (entering the game): BYU 8-2 (No. 16), Air Force 10-0 (No. 4)

What happened: Only a year removed from a national championship, the Cougars had lost a pair of heartbreaking games while the Falcons appeared on their way to possibly duplicating the feat BYU had accomplished in 1984. Undefeated Air Force rolled to a 21-7 halftime lead but the Cougars rallied by scoring all three touchdowns in the second half. The Falcons had a chance in the final minutes but an interception in the end zone gave BYU the upset.

Signature play: Cougar return specialist Vai Sikahema changed the game with a 72-yard punt return in the third quarter, then caught a 69-yard pass from Bosco with under six minutes to go to put BYU in front for good.

What it meant: The Falcons could easily have had a chance to play for a national championship if they had beaten the Cougars. Instead, AFA had to settle for going 12-1 and being ranked No. 8. BYU finished the year at No. 16 after a third disappointing defeat to Ohio State in the Citrus Bowl.

Jared Lloyd's Take

I just about went with the underdog — just about. The win over Air Force was a dramatic showcase that showed the strength of the Cougars in the mid-1980s ... but 1985 was just too much of a disappointment overall. The 1996 team had so much more success that I have to give Steve Sarkisian and Co. the edge.

The Pick: BYU 41, Texas A&M 37 (1985)

-- Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd is also the beat writer for the BYU football team, the columnist for the Cougar men’s basketball team and covers a variety of Utah Valley high school athletics. He can be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.
Read more from  Jared Lloyd here.

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