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Twenty-Five Years Ago BYU Stopped Air Force's Bid For A National Title

Today's game against BYU and Air Force is the last scheduled game between the two since BYU is now going independent, so it is as good a time as any to revisit the 1985 game that halted Air Force's bid for a national title in 1985. 1984 was the last time that a team not from a current BCS league won a national title, and that team was BYU.

What a lot of people do not know is how close the 1985 Air Force team was to also winning a national championship. Twenty-five years ago Air Force was set to play BYU and the Falcons were fourth in the country and were on pace to play Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl and with a Falcon win they would have been national champions. Air Force had just two games left on the schedule before a potential national title chance; this BYU game and then a game against Hawaii. It is not that Air Force lost the game, but it was how they lost since they started out with a bug 21-7 half time lead:

Part of the lingering pain is how the BYU game started. Just 20 seconds after Falcons running back Randy Jones caught a 22-yard touchdown pass, Tom Rotello returned a Robbie Bosco interception 25 yards for a touchdown. Less than three minutes into the game Air Force led 14-0. Weiss said he thought the team was shocked to start that well. Another interception return helped Air Force to a 21-7 halftime lead.

Air Force had the game in hand and only needed to beat Hawaii for their shot at a national title.  The quarterback of that team, Col. Bartholomew W. Weiss, thought about that time quite often once he left the Academy:

"Oh sure, especially the first 10 years I thought about it," said Weiss, the quarterback of the 1985 team. "I don't think there was a day or week, especially in fall, when I didn't. To a man, the guys on that team think about what would've, could've happened."

That season was still a great success as the Falcons ended the season 12-1 by beating Texas in the Bluebonnet bowl and ended up eighth in the polls.

Today's game does not have that same meaning for the Falcons, but this team on paper looks to be one of the best teams in a long time at Air Force.  Plus, a win over BYU would put them on track to be in the top three of the Mountain West once the season ends.