Thursday’s roundup: Boise State survives vs. BYU

Associated Press
BYU tight end Tanner Balderree is brought down by Boise State linebacker Ben Weaver.

Boise, Idaho — When BYU lined up to attempt a game-winning field goal with 16 seconds remaining, Boise State nose tackle David Moa was struggling to get his shoe on along the sideline as head coach Bryan Harsin was pleading for someone to help Moa.

"That might have been the most stressful moment in the whole game," Harsin said. "BYU is lining up for a field goal and I can't get my nose tackle out there."

Moa managed to get his shoe on in time before he blocked the Cougars' 44-yard field goal attempt and help Boise State escape with a 28-27 victory Thursday night in a wild finish.

The Broncos (7-0), who won their 23rd straight non-conference home game, overcame five turnovers in the victory. Since 2004, FBS teams that are minus-5 in the turnover category are 9-231.

"I think it shows the will of this team," Boise State linebacker Tanner Vallejo said. "We scratched and clawed and were able to get the win. This is a confidence booster for this team."

BYU (4-4) still had another chance to win the game after Rhett Almond's field goal attempt was blocked. The ball didn't cross the line of scrimmage and Mitch Juergens recovered for BYU, giving the Cougars the ball at the Boise State 42 with 8 seconds left.

The Cougars, who beat Boise State on a last-minute Hail Mary play last season, couldn't duplicate the magic on the final play of the game as the ball was knocked down in the end zone.

It was another narrow defeat for BYU, which has lost all four games by a combined eight points.

"We had five turnovers and we were able to take care of the football, which is what kept us in the game," BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. "When you're ahead 5-0 in the turnover battle, you shouldn't even be in the game. That says a lot about how good this Boise State team is."

Taysom Hill was 21-of-42 passing for 187 yards for BYU, while Squally Canada rushed for 88 yards.

BYU, which was without leading rusher Jamaal Williams due to an ankle injury suffered in practice this week, mustered just 322 yards of offense, well below its 405 yards per game average.

However, it was still almost enough for the upset-minded Cougars.

BYU took a 27-21 lead with 13:33 remaining on a 37-yard field goal by Almond.

Then Boise State's offense came to life for the first time in the second half.

Rypien engineered a 10-play, 90-yard drive that ended in a 4-yard touchdown run by Jeremy McNichols with 10:37 remaining. Tyler Rausa's extra point gave the Broncos a 28-27 lead that withstood BYU's last-minute rally.

Rypien threw for 442 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.

McNichols rushed for 140 yards and had 109 yards receiving along with a pair of touchdowns. Thomas Sperbeck also had 109 yards receiving on nine catches, his 11th career game with more than 100 yards receiving.

Saban wary of Knight

Trevor Knight has changed teams, proven he’s not a one-game wonder and re-emerged with a national title contender.

The Texas A&M quarterback was a redshirt freshman for Oklahoma when he picked apart Alabama’s defense in the January 2013 Sugar Bowl and looked every bit the rising star.

Now, the top-ranked Crimson Tide, with mostly new players, finally gets another shot at Knight when he leads the sixth-ranked Aggies into Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday in a matchup of the Southeastern Conference’s top teams.

His career with the Sooners never took off, but Knight’s doing just fine now.

“It was a long time ago,” Knight said. “I’m not even at the same school anymore. They talk about it’s me and I guess (Mississippi’s) Chad Kelly are the two teams that have beaten Alabama, but again that’s so far in the past that you can’t look into that now.”

It’s still noteworthy to reflect on just how good Knight was on that January night in New Orleans against a strong Alabama defense.

Knight wound up passing for 348 yards and four touchdowns to win Sugar Bowl MVP honors and outshine Heisman Trophy runner-up AJ McCarron for the underdogs. His 32 completions set a Sugar Bowl record and was only 15 shy of his season total.

“We won and that was a good feeling,” Knight said. “Again that was a great game. ... I don’t think too much (about) it nowadays.”

He has more pressing matters on his mind. Knight is thriving in coach Kevin Sumlin’s offense at Texas A&M. He has passed for 1,500 yards and nine touchdowns while rushing for 502 yards and another nine scores.

More importantly, he has guided the Aggies to a 6-0 start and four straight SEC wins. Knight has passed for 200-plus yards and rushed for more than 80 in each of his last three conference games.

Saban doesn’t need to replay the Sugar Bowl to be impressed with Knight.

“He’s very athletic. He’s very quick,” Saban said. “... This guy’s a complete player at the position. I thought he was that when we played him before and I think he’s even better now.”

Now, Knight gets his biggest challenge perhaps since that Sugar Bowl. Alabama (7-0, 4-0) has the nation’s top rushing defense.

Extra points

No. 10 Wisconsin plans to play top linebacker Vince Biegel at Iowa after he missed two games with a right foot injury.

... No. 22 North Carolina has lost starting offensive guard Caleb Peterson and linebacker Jonathan Smith to season-ending injuries.