It's crazy that we are only 22 days away from the start of the 2019 BYU Football season.
22 days away! When I first started to do the Top 100 countdown I remember feeling like I was Moses about to start my 40 years in the wilderness. It felt so far away and 100 player bios seemed like the toughest task in writing history. And yet, 836,000 words later here we are at player 22.
Player No. 22 all-time for the Cougars is one that mainly earns his spot in the Top 100 because of his playmaking ability and memorable moments, particularly in one of the five biggest games ever for BYU Football. In fact, instead of the traditional breakdown of rankings and whatnot, we are just going to focus on that game.
No. 22 Shay Muirbrook - Linebacker - 1993-1996
When looking at the biggest games ever, fans like to point to BYU vs Utah games. However, very rarely has that game actually carried significant weight as far both teams being ranked really high, one having an undefeated season on the line or in a bowl game.
The five biggest wins ever for BYU Football are:
1984 vs (3) Pittsburg
1984 vs Michigan (Holiday Bowl)
1989 vs Utah
1996 vs (14) Kansas State
2009 vs (3) Oklahoma
The game we are talking about today is the fourth best win ever for the Cougars. BYU was looking to become the first ever 14 win team in college football. They were 13-1 with their only loss being early in the season against Washington.
Despite their 13-1 record, many critics were still doubting the Cougars as a really good team and that showed in their 5th place ranking in the polls. They got their chance though against Kansas State. A win would show that the Cougars were a true top team, whereas a loss would prove the critics right and show that a WAC team had no business being in the Top 5.
Coming into the game the Cougars were 5th nationally with 40 PPG and the Wildcats were 30th with 30 PPG. Both teams were also ranked in the Top 25 in defense giving up 18.5 and 15.9 points per game. So nobody really knew what to expect.
The game ended up being a very low scoring game and came down to who was going to keep the other team from scoring as opposed to an offensive firework show . Yesterday in an article, I wrote how normally the quarterback is the most important player on the team. For most of the game though, that was not true for the Cougars. The most important player was Muirbrook.
Muirbrook was a monster on the defense, getting into the backfield and causing disruption on what seemed like every play. He ended up sacking the quarterback six times. That is a BYU record that is still in tact today. In fact, the next best player has four.
The first sack came early in the game that got the Cougars on the board with a safety. The next five sacks would come at times when the BYU needed a spark and was trying to keep KSU from running away with the game as they led by as much as 14-5.
His final stat line in the game was 12 tackles, six sacks, multiple disruptions, and a ton of havoc in the backfield.
Muirbrook went on to be the defensive MVP of the game and forever will be the hero of one of the biggest wins ever for BYU Football.