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BYU’s hopes of going to a New Year’s Six bowl game came up a yard short against Coastal Carolina.
The Chanticleers (10-0) continued their undefeated season with a 22-17 win over previously undefeated BYU in a hastily arranged Saturday matchup. BYU (9-1) got the ball back with less than a minute to go without any timeouts with the chance for the game-winning score and immediately drove down the field.
The Cougars got all the way down to the CCU 18-yard line with three seconds left, but wide receiver Dax Milne was stopped about a yard short of the goal line as time expired.
The winning score came with 11:35 to go when CCU running back CJ Marable scored from two yards out to give Coastal a five-point lead.
The Coastal Carolina defense clamped down on BYU’s potent offense in the second half outside of that final drive. BYU managed just one field goal over the final 30 minutes after scoring 14 points in the second quarter.
Coastal might have been fired up about the end of the second quarter. Zach Wilson threw an interception on a last-second Hail Mary that was picked off by Derick Bush. Wilson was knocked to the ground twice during Bush’s return by CCU players and a scuffle ensued on the field as both teams converged instead of heading to the locker room.
No flags were thrown on either the play or the scuffle.
Wilson finished the game 19-of-30 passing for 240 yards and a touchdown and that interception. Ninety of those 240 yards came on the final drive that came up short.
Wilson ran for 55 yards too, but BYU didn’t commit to the run game despite averaging over six yards a carry. Tyler Allgeier had 13 carries for 106 yards, but BYU ran the ball just 26 times overall.
BYU needed to go undefeated for consideration for a New Year’s Six bowl game since it’s an independent and was only eligible for an at-large berth. And it needed some marquee wins too. That’s why the Cougars hastily stepped in to play Coastal Carolina after Liberty was unable to play the Chanticleers on Saturday because of COVID-19 positives and quarantines.
The game was a potential chance for BYU to boost its status in the eyes of the playoff committee. Instead, BYU is likely left on the outside of the New Year’s Six bowls like it could have been had it not played Coastal Carolina at all.
Coastal Carolina is for real
How is the College Football Playoff committee going to treat Coastal Carolina’s win? The committee showed that it didn’t like BYU’s schedule when it had the Cougars outside the top 10 despite being 9-0. And the same can be said for Coastal Carolina’s schedule as the Chanticleers were five spots behind the Cougars.
Coastal needs to be in the top 15 in the next set of the rankings on Tuesday. And it should be in or near the top 10.
Coastal rushed 54 times for 281 yards against a BYU team that was markedly bigger. The potent option offense controlled the line of scrimmage and had BYU defenders on skates at times. Marable had 23 carries for 132 yards and scored twice while QB Grayson McCall ran for 68 yards and was 10-of-15 passing for 85 yards.
Coastal helped out its defense with the running game. Yeah, time of possession is overrated. But It was clear that CCU wanted to keep the ball from BYU as much as it could. The Chanticleers had the ball for nearly 38 minutes.
Thanks to Cincinnati’s excellence, CCU needs the Bearcats to lose to Tulsa to have any shot at a New Year’s Six bowl game as the top Group of Five team. But Coastal should also be considered as an at-large team too if it beats Troy to end the season and No. 25 Louisiana in the Sun Belt title game.
The Sun Belt’s big wins
Coastal Carolina’s win over BYU is another benchmark for the Sun Belt in a remarkable 2020. Coastal opened the season with a win over Kansas and other teams have wins over Power Five opponents too. Louisiana beat Iowa State — the top team in the Big 12 — to open the season and Arkansas State beat Kansas State.
Those wins should help Coastal in the eyes of the committee. The league is no longer clearly at the bottom of the top level of college football. No Sun Belt team has ever made a New Year’s Six bowl game. But if Coastal Carolina’s 2020 success is a sign of things to come, that could change pretty soon.
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