BYU took its first major step on Saturday night.
In a season with high hopes and a loaded schedule, the No. 21 Cougars are off to an impressive start after gutting out a 26-20 double overtime win over No. 9 Baylor in Provo, Utah.
Lopini Katoa's 3-yard touchdown run in the second OT stood up as the winner after Baylor's ensuing possession stalled out at the 11 yard line.
It capped off a strange last sequence of the game in which three field goal attempts were missed, two of which were potential game-winners for BYU.
In the end, the home team prevailed over the defending Big 12 champs, much to the delight of the fans who stormed the field.
It ended up being one of the most exciting games of the night even though it finished well after 2 a.m. ET.
"Oh I'm going to be dancing, yeah, that's for sure," BYU head coach Kalani Sitake told ESPN afterward. "It's a late night but there's always time to dance."
It was an evenly played game throughout. Neither team ever led by more than one score.
And both top-notch defenses were in display as neither team found the end zone until late in the second quarter, when the Bears took a 6-3 lead on a 1-yard Qualan Jones run. (The PAT was missed. That will come into play later).
BYU answered with Jaren Hall's pinpoint 20-yard touchdown pass to Chase Roberts with 18 seconds left in the first half. BYU led 10-6.
The teams continued to trade scores from there. Jones ran in another score to put the Bears in front 13-10 early in the third, then the Cougars came back with 10 straight points later in the quarter to recapture the lead at 20-13.
The go-ahead score came on a tricky play where the wide receiver Roberts wound up tossing a TD pass to the quarterback Hall.
Baylor knotted it up at 20-20 early in the fourth on Blake Shapen's pass to Ben Sims. It was otherwise a tough night for Shapen, who finished 18-of-28 for 137 yards and the one TD pass.
The Bears preferred the run game, but that didn't have a ton of success either, particularly in overtime when the offense struggled mightily to move the ball.
Needing to match BYU's TD to stay alive in the second OT period, Baylor ran 11 plays — eight of them runs — and gained just 14 net yards. Shapen's 4th down pass sailed out of the end zone to end it.
In truth, the Cougars should have won it in regulation after the offense drove to field goal range in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. But Jake Oldroyd missed left on the potential game-winning kick from 35 yards out.
In the first OT, Baylor's Isaiah Hankins — the same one who missed the PAT earlier — missed his 43-yard kick well right. That set up BYU for another golden opportunity to win on a field goal, but Oldroyd missed again from 37 yards out.
In the second OT, the Cougars didn't leave anything to chance. Four plays into the possession, Katoa was in the end zone. No kick necessary.