While the majority of the nation was focusing on what was happening at the top of the BCS standings, fans of the little guy were still taking in what had occurred just a few hours earlier in Ruston, Louisiana.
Thanks to No. 20 Louisiana Tech’s 48-41 overtime loss to Utah State, there will be no BCS buster this season.
The Bulldogs, who came into Saturday with an outside chance of qualifying for an automatic BCS bowl berth, were labeled as a team with the potential to struggle before the game started.
As it turned out, Louisiana Tech struggled mightily before finally getting things together in the second half and making a furious comeback that eventually forced overtime.
After a two-yard touchdown run by Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams with less than two minutes left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs had dug themselves into a considerable hole and were down, 41-17. But then the offense came alive, and Louisiana Tech stormed back to score three unanswered touchdowns in a span of about one quarter.
A 32-yard field goal by Matt Nelson with 11 seconds remaining in the game capped off the comeback and sent the game into overtime tied at 41.
Down a score in overtime, the Bulldogs were faced with a 4th-and-3 call. When the cloud of dust settled after Ray Holley’s run, Louisiana Tech had come up two yards short.
Sometimes it’s a sickening thought to the losing squad that two yards can be the difference between a potential Orange Bowl berth and the Independence Bowl, especially when you’ve been averaging 581 yards per game this season.
Credit needs to be given to Utah State, though. The Aggies proved that their defensive numbers weren’t a joke for three quarters, and even when the Bulldogs mounted a comeback, the Aggies were able to dig deep and find a way to win.
Senior running back Kerwynn Williams will go down as the game’s hero, doing everything in his power to help Utah State to victory.
Williams accounted for 303 total yards, including 162 rushing and another 125 receiving.
Years from now, Aggies quarterback Chuckie Keeton may be able to refer back to this game as his coming-out party. The sophomore threw for an astounding 340 yards and added another 121 yards on the ground, while also avoiding committing any turnovers.
In the end, this game really came down to ball security.
Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron, who had been perfect heading into the game throwing 27 touchdowns and no interceptions, finally looked human against Utah State’s stingy defense.
The senior threw two interceptions on the day, one of which came while the Bulldogs were driving in the red zone.
Without the three turnovers by the home team, this game may have had a different end result.
Still, Utah State’s upset victory over the Bulldogs will serve as the proverbial nail in the coffin for the non-AQ conferences’ chances at getting a team to a BCS bowl.
Without Louisiana Tech, Kent State will almost surely be the only non-AQ conference team in the newest BCS rankings. Since the Golden Flashes are making an entry so late into the season, it is hard to imagine a situation where the school would move up into the Top 16, which would make them eligible for an automatic BCS bid, provided that they finish ahead of an AQ-conference champion.
While this is upsetting to some fans who like to see the underdog conferences get a chance in the BCS every year, it may be best thing for the reputation of those conferences.
Louisiana Tech wowed pundits a little over a month ago by matching Texas A&M’s offense all game en route to a close 59-57 loss. However, Utah State validated concerns that the Bulldogs’ defensive issues would eventually be too much to overcome.
In a BCS bowl, Louisiana Tech may have suffered a similar fate to the one Hawaii experienced when it went to the Sugar Bowl back in 2008.
In that game, Hawaii’s potent offense was overwhelmed by Georgia’s defense, and the Warriors were pummeled 41-10.
By ending the Bulldogs’ hopes now, Utah State may have saved the little guys a black eye.
Unfortunately for Sonny Dykes’s team, that isn’t the way they probably see it. Losing always hurts, but losing out for a chance to play on the big stage will haunt them forever.