American Football Database
1984 Holiday Bowl
Bowl Game
1 2 3 4 Total
University of Michigan 0 7 7 3 17
Brigham Young University 0 10 0 14 24
Date December 21, 1984
Season 1984
Stadium Jack Murphy Stadium
Location San Diego, California
Attendance 61,243[1]
Payout US$502,635 per team[1]

Holiday Bowl
 < 1983  1985

The 1984 Holiday Bowl was one of the games that determined the national championship in college football for the 1984 season. Played on December 21, 1984 at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California, it pitted the BYU Cougars against the Michigan Wolverines; BYU won the game, 24-17. The attendance of 61,248 was a record for Jack Murphy Stadium at that time.

National championship

At the conclusion of the 1984 college football season, BYU was the only undefeated team in Division I-A. As such, BYU was the leading candidate to win the national championship if it were to win its bowl game. However, BYU, as champion of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), was obligated to play in the Holiday Bowl which was not one of the top-tier bowls. As such, the young bowl would not automatically draw a high-caliber opponent for the WAC champion. Many of the poll voters were reluctant to crown a WAC team as national champion, because of the unconventional style of football being played at that time in the WAC, relying more heavily on the pass than was prevalent among the more traditional teams in larger conferences, and the perception that the difficulty of the WAC schedule was weak compared to those of the major powers with losses to highly ranked opponents.

The Holiday Bowl settled on Michigan after some other schools passed on the bowl because of its early time period, citing interference with final exams. Eventually, the Holiday Bowl picked the 6-5 Michigan Wolverines to play BYU with the national title possibly on the line for Brigham Young University. The Wolverines managed to give BYU a tough game, but BYU won the game by a score of 24-17 and would later be awarded the consensus national championship after all of the other bowl games had been completed.

Game summary

First quarter

BYU’s first drive ended when Robbie Bosco threw an interception. On the second drive, Bosco was carried off the field after a roughing-the-passer penalty led to a knee ligament strain; this injury would plague him throughout his Pro career. He was replaced by Blaine Fowler, who came in with the game still scoreless. Fowler’s first pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage. On his second play, Fowler threw a short pass for a first down on 3rd and 2. The Cougars eventually punted.

Second quarter

Robbie Bosco returned on BYU’s next possession. Bosco led the Cougars to their first touchdown of the game, a TD run by Kelly Smith with 8:33 remaining in the second quarter. Besides throwing several passes, Bosco also made a gutsy scramble for a first down.

Michigan’s next possession ended in an attempted punt. The BYU defenders however penetrated too quickly and the punter had no time to punt and tackled out of bounds on the 5 yard line. On the ensuing possession, Bosco fumbled the ball into the endzone on 3rd and goal from the 3 and Michigan recovered for a touchback.

Michigan responded by driving down for a touchdown. They were aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct call against BYU, and later a running into the kicker penalty after Michigan had kicked a field goal. Rodgers scored for Michigan on a 5 yard run to tie the game at 7-7. BYU took the ball deep in their own territory, ran the 2 minute drill, and kicked a field goal with 4 seconds left in the half to take a 10-7 lead into halftime.

Third quarter

On BYU’s opening possession of the second half, Bosco’s pass went off the fingertips of Lakei Hemilu, and Michigan’s Mike Mallory intercepted it. After a Michigan punt, BYU committed another turnover when Bosco was stripped by Jim Scarcelli. Michigan recovered the fumble.

With 3:20 to play in the third, a field goal attempt by Lee Johnson was blocked. After the block, Michigan drove down and scored on a TD pass from Chris Zurbrugg to Bob Perryman, giving them a 14-10 lead. The ensuing kickoff was bobbled by Vai Sikahema who was then tackled on the 5 yard line. BYU then fumbled again a few plays later and Michigan recovered with 6 seconds remaining in the third quarter. This was BYU’s fifth turnover of the game.

Fourth quarter

BYU’s Defense held, forcing Michigan to settle for a field goal despite advancing the ball to the 10-yard line. This gave the Wolverines a 17-10 lead and thus setting up another BYU epic Holiday Bowl comeback as in the 1980 and 1983 game.

BYU drove the length of the field and scored with 10:51 remaining on a 7-yard Bosco to Glenn Kozlowski TD pass to tie the game 17-17.

After a Michigan punt, BYU took possession but another Bosco pass was intercepted after it went off the hand of Glenn Kozlowski and into the hands of Jim Scarcelli. BYU then forced yet another Michigan punt. Finally, BYU drove the length of the field and scored on a pass from an injured Bosco to Kelly Smith with 1:23 remaining. Marv Allen, who also played in the very first Holiday Bowl as a redshirt freshman in 1978, sealed the victory with an interception.

Questionable calls

  • In the first quarter the play was blown dead as BYU’s Leon White stripped Michigan’s running back and returned it for a would-have-been touchdown.
  • In the second quarter, the referees ruled that a Michigan fumble recovered by Kyle Morrell was out of bounds. TV cameras showed that the ball was still in bounds when it was recovered. Upset BYU players were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and Michigan went on to score a touchdown.
  • In the third quarter, Bosco threw a twenty yard pass to David Mills that was ruled incomplete for touching the ground. However, replay clearly showed it was a catch. BYU was forced to attempt a long field goal which was then blocked.


Michigan finished the 1984 season with a mediocre 6-6 overall record following their Holiday Bowl loss. However, Brigham Young's 2-year spanning win-streak, their position as the lone undefeated team in the nation that year, and their ability to defeat a traditional powerhouse in a bowl game was enough to sway the voters. The Cougars were at the top of both the AP and UPI/Coaches' polls, though they had to wait nearly a week for the final results. The reason for the wait was because the 1984 Holiday Bowl marked the only time in college football history that the eventual national champion played its bowl game in December.

Controversy continued after the bowl season among supporters of the Washington Huskies who believed that they had been deprived of a national championship. As a result BYU would be pitted against a formidable opponent in the Kickoff Classic to open the 1985 season. They would face the Boston College Eagles, who had finished the previous season ranked 4th and 5th in the UPI and AP polls, respectively. Brigham Young won the Kickoff Classic over Boston College, who had lost their QB Doug Flutie and finished with a 5-8 record that season, by a score of 28-14. Two weeks later they would also face the Washington Huskies, who had finished the previous season ranked immediately behind Brigham Young at #2 in both major polls, and had been one of the more vocal detractors of the previous years official outcome. Brigham Young would also go on to win that match-up by a lop-sided score of 31-3. The Brigham Young Cougars 25-game winning streak which had begun on September 17, 1983 came to an end against UCLA on September 7, 1985, when they lost 27-24 to the Bruins.


External links