College Football Review: Zero Tolerance Helps BYU Win

I picked Brigham Young to be my BCS Bowl gate-crashing team. So Saturday’s 28-27 last second win over Washington was important to BYU achieving that goal. But the way BYU accomplished the victory leaves a dirty taste in my mouth.

Not that it was Brigham Young University’s fault. The blame has to go to the NCAA, which adopted the stupid excessive celebration unsportsmanlike penalty, and the blame has to go to the PAC-10 officiating crew at the game, who refused to exercise common sense and went zero tolerance instead.

BYU and Washington had battled throughout the day, with BYU struggling for its first non-conference road win over a BCS team since December 1, 2001. BYU, behind the passing of Max Hall, took the 28-21 lead late in the fourth quarter, but Washington refused to die, and after a 17 play drive, Washington quarterback Jake Locker ran the ball in for a touchdown with two seconds left in the game. Locker jumped up from the turf, tossed the football behind the back, and ran into the arms of his teammates.

Thus the atrocity.

The PAC-10 officiating crew proceeded to throw a flag on Locker for excessive celebration, saying that it wasn’t a judgment call and that they were required to throw the flag for excessive celebration because he tossed the ball into “the air.” The result was a 15 yard penalty that left Washington attempting a 35 yard point after touchdown. An attempt which failed when BYU blocked the kick.

I don’t know if Washington would have made the PAT if it was from the normal spot, but generally, even in college, the PAT is automatic from 20 yards. And for this game to be decided by such a stupid, misguided flag is just wrong. Even if it was does benefit a team that I’ve got picked to finish with a high rating and a big bowl game.

But as dramatic as BYU’s victory might have been, Wake Forest’s 30-28 win over Mississippi almost topped it. In what had been another back-and-forth game, Mississippi took the 28-27 lead with 1:01 in the game, only to have Wake Forest go 56 yards in under a minute and kick a field goal with three seconds left for the win.


The Rice Owls trailed the Memphis Tigers 28-13 heading into the fourth quarter. Rice went on to score four touchdowns in that quarter behind the play of quarterback Chase Clement. For the game, Clement was 26-for-44 and a touchdown on the passing end, while he ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns. James Casey was the receiving star for Rice, catching 11 passes for 208 yards while Clement’s normal pass-catch partner Jarrett Dillard caught eight passes for 65 yards and a TD. Rice tied the game at 35-35 late in the fourth, and it appeared that the game was headed into overtime until Rice’s Chris Jammer intercepted a pass from Memphis’ Arkelon Hall and returned it 66 yards for the game clinching touchdown with 11 seconds left.

The Houston Cougars, meanwhile, proved that they can score on just about anybody. However, new coach Kevin Sumlin has the same problems as Art Briles had with the Cougars while he was here. The defense can’t stop legitimate offenses. The Coogs had the 16-14 halftime lead over the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday night, but the Cowboys came out in the second half and scored on their first five possessions, winning the game 56-37. The Cowboys rolled to 699 yards on offense – the second most in school history, and for the first time in Oklahoma State history, they had a player go for 200-plus yards rushing (Kendall Hunter, 210 yards and two TDs) and 200-plus yard receiving (Dez Bryant, 236 yards and 4 TDs). Cougar QB Case Keenum was 35-for-61 for 387 yards and four touchdowns, but it just wasn’t enough.

The upset of the week involved the East Carolina Pirates – who last week upset Virginia Tech on a last-minute punt block return for a touchdown – beating the eighth ranked West Virginia Mountaineers 24-3. The Pirates dominated the game, shutting down Heisman hopeful Pat White. It was the first time West Virginia failed to score a TD in a game since 2001. On offense, the Pirates moved the ball at will. This was East Carolina’s third straight win over a top-25 ranked team (last year’s Hawaii Bowl win over Boise State, then Virginia Tech, and now West Virginia). It was also East Carolina’s first win over a top-10 team since defeating Miami in September of 2001.

Andafter Ohio State’s embarrassing 26-14 win over Ohio on Saturday, let’s hope the AP voters finally get a clue and start to knock Ohio State down a few pegs. Ohio State was down 14-12 heading into the fourth, and had to scramble for the win. Much like Notre Dame had to scramble for the 21-13 lead over San Diego State, who lost to Cal-Poly last week but dominated Notre Dame for nearly three quarters this week and came within a yard of taking a 20-7 lead in the third quarter until fumbling the football just short of the goal line.

Make sure to come back tomorrow as I’ll be posting my Top 25 rankings after two weeks of play. – John Royal

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