Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford stood helplessly on the sideline, wearing a T-shirt, a sling and a towel around his neck.
All he could do was watch as his Oklahoma Sooners lost their chance for a perfect season—and the BYU Cougars launched their bid to become the latest BCS busters from the Mountain West.
Max Hall threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to wide-open McKay Jacobson in the back of the end zone with 3:03 left, giving No. 20 BYU a 14-13 victory over No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday night.
The Sooners’ last hope to recover ended when Tress Way came up short on a 54-yard field goal with 1:23 left. BYU players exchanged flying chest bumps right away, then celebrated wildly when their upset was complete, a stunning end to the first college football game—and first regular-season game—ever played at the nearly $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium.
One Saturday into the college football season and already the national title race—and Heisman Trophy race—have been thrown for a loop.
Cougars fans made up only a small portion of the crowd of 75,437, but they all stuck around long after this one. The team stayed on the field so they could all enjoy it together, cheerleaders waving flags and players pointing to friends and family in the crowd. Hall’s uncle, former Cowboys quarterback Danny White, was expected to be among them.
“I don’t know if we can measure it now,” said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, who opened his fifth season with his biggest victory and one of the best in program history. “All I can say is I’m very proud of this football team.”
The Cougars won at least 10 games each of the last three years, helping regain some of their national profile, but they’d lost 12 straight to ranked non-conference foes. Their last such win was over No. 1 Miami in 1990.
“This is unbelievable, playing a game like this, having a chance to drive down the field and score,” Hall said.
Hall was 26 of 38 for 329 yards and two touchdowns. The numbers that matter most: a 16-play, 78-yard drive that included converting a fourth-and-4 and throwing the winning touchdown after being shoved back from the 2 on a delay-of-game penalty.
Hall was intercepted twice and sacked four times, but this win could vault him to the fringe of the Heisman talk—especially with Bradford’s status unknown.
Bradford sprained his throwing shoulder when he was tackled to the turf on a hard, clean hit by linebacker Coleby Clawson in the closing seconds of the first half. Oklahoma kicked a field goal on the next play to up 10-7, but backup Landry Jones wasn’t able to stretch it very much.
The best Jones could do was get the Sooners to the 1-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. After he failed to get in on a third-down sneak, coach Bob Stoops opted for another field goal. Hall made that strategy backfire, leaving Oklahoma 0-1 for only the second time in 11 seasons under Stoops.