BYU becomes bowl eligible with close win over Washington State

Allgeier rushes for 191 rushing yards and two scores as BYU wins battle of Cougars, 21-19.

BYU running back Tyler Allgeier carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Both BYU and Washington State went into Saturday’s game with something to prove, but only one team could walk out victorious.

The Cougars from Provo were looking to snap a two-game skid. The Cougars from Pullman, Wash., were looking to win amidst the biggest shakeup the program could have had midway through the season.

But a pair of failed 2-point conversion attempts hurt Washington State and BYU was able to pull out a 21-19 win.

Not only did the win break BYU’s losing streak, it made coach Kalani Sitake’s team bowl eligible. It also served as the first time BYU has defeated four Power 5 programs in the same season.

“A lot of credit to Washington State,” Sitake said. “I know they’re going through some adversity and some change, and I thought those guys showed up ready to play, really motivated. When it comes down to it, we just made one more play than they did. But if you look at it, it was a pretty balanced game.”

Washington State saw four members of its staff, including head coach Nick Rolovich, be released from the program when the group failed to get vaccinated in spite of an Oct. 18 vaccine mandate deadline placed by the state.

However, even with Jake Dickert as interim coach, Washington State was quick to score with an 11-yard touchdown run by Max Borghi on its opening drive. The BYU Cougars responded with their own opening-drive score, a 3-yard touchdown run by Lopini Katoa.

If people thought the quick offensive starts would lead to a shootout, they were mistaken.

After each team put together 75-yard scoring drives, they each struggled to move the ball and failed to add to the score for the remainder of the first half.

The action picked up once more when the BYU Cougars scored early in the third quarter. The WSU Cougars responded on the ensuing drive, but opted to go for a 2-point conversion in hopes of taking the lead instead of tying the game. They were unsuccessful.

The failed 2-point try came back to haunt the WSU Cougars later, when they needed the two points to tie the game, but were stopped by BYU once more.

“Luckily our defense was anchored and got it,” defensive back Malik Moore said about stopping Washington State from scoring on the second conversion.

BYU’s ground attack rebounded a week after posting a season-low 67 yards. At Pullman, the BYU Cougars rushed for a season-high 238 yards.

Junior Tyler Allgeier was once again a large part of BYU’s rush attack with 191 rushing yards and two scores on 32 carries.

In the first quarter, on his fourth carry of the day, Allgeier broke for a 30-yard run that got him over the 2,000 career rushing yards. He became the fastest BYU running back to reach 2,000 yards with 316 carries. Luke Staley had previously been the quickest to reach that milestone with 349 carries.

Allgeier’s performance on Saturday was the best by a BYU running back against a Power 5 team in school history.

“I’m a little banged up, but it should be good,” Allgeier said.