Nebraska (0-1) fans had to feel concerned when one second was left on the clock as BYU’s (1-0) last offensive possession was running out of time. Just as it did in 2009 in the Big 12 championship game against Texas, that last second came back to haunt Nebraska. BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum, in relief of an injured Taysom Hill, unloaded a Hail Mary pass to the end zone, and Mitch Matthews somehow came down with it across the goal line for a wild 33-28 lead and the win. The officials needed to review the final play, but it did not take long to confirm the call on the field for the game-winning touchdown. It was Mangum’s only touchdown pass of the game.
After the game BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Hill is done for the season. The quarterback was roughed up at times and needed to leave the game twice for medical attention. That will put the offense in the hands of Mangum moving forward, and that is a tough blow to BYU.
BYU established some dominance in the first half by taking a 24-14 lead into halftime, but the Cornhuskers roared back in the second half to take a 28-27 lead into the fourth quarter. But BYU clamped down and prevented Nebraska from tacking on any more points. Meanwhile, the offense chipped away and moved into position to pull the stunner on Nebraska.
Hill ended his day with 268 passing yards and a touchdown pass to go with his 72 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. His counterpart, Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong, had 318 passing yards and three touchdowns, while the running game split contributions in the post-Ameer Abdullah era.
For Nebraska, at least it wasn’t the worst loss of the day suffered by a Big Ten team (that distinction belongs to Penn State). It did, however, do nothing to help boost the Big Ten’s sluggish start to the season’s non-conference action. Michigan and Minnesota each lost to power conference teams on Thursday night. Penn State just went down to Temple. Now Nebraska had a setback against BYU. These are the types of games the Big Ten could not afford to lose to carry over momentum gained from a nice postseason run last year. But hey, at least Northwestern topped Stanford today, so it’s not all bad for the Big Ten and Big Ten West (Wisconsin vs. Alabama pending).
For BYU, this is a great start to a very challenging September. The Cougars have Boise State, UCLA and Michigan still to play, but breaking even with a 2-2 record was always viewed as a realistic possibility and a positive start to the season. That’s still in the fold for BYU. Heck, a winning record may not be impossible to grab.