Sione Takitaki

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BYU’s Zach Wilson throws perfect game in rout of Western Michigan in Potato Bowl

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The term “perfect game” is a baseball term, but it seems justifiable to use it to describe the performance of BYU freshman quarterback Zach Wilson in BYU’s blowout of Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Friday afternoon in Boise, Idaho. Wilson completed 18 of 18 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns as BYU (7-6) blew away Western Michigan (7-6) by a score of 49-18.

Behind the confident passing of Wilson, BYU took over control of the game in the second half. After trailing the Broncos 10-7 at halftime, Wilson quickly got the Cougars on the move with a 48-yard pass to Neil Pau’u and later ended the drive with a touchdown pass to Dylan Collie to put BYU in front. They never looked back. Wilson connected with Collie again on BYU’s next offensive series to build on the lead. Wilson later tossed a 70-yard touchdown pass to Aleva Hifo to extend the lead to 28-10 as BYU was in the midst of scoring four touchdowns in the third quarter.

Wilson did throw an incompletion on BYU’s next possession, but a defensive holding penalty on Western Michigan wiped out the incompletion on the stat sheet to keep Wilson’s perfect afternoon intact. Wilson’s fourth touchdown pass brought him within one completion of tying the all-time record for most consecutive passes to start a bowl game of 19, previously set by Mike Bobo of Georgia (now the head coach of Colorado State) in the 1998 Outback Bowl.

Wilson’s day would come to an end without another pass attempt. With a 42-18 lead midway through the fourth quarter, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake opted to bring in senior quarterback Tanner Mangum to wrap up his collegiate career. While Wilson was stealing the show on offense, BYU’s Sione Takitaki was having himself a day on defense with 19 tackles in the game.

While the season may not have gone quite as well as some BYU fans would have hoped to see, the Cougars did end the season with a winning record and on a winning note after winning just four games in 2017. Wilson’s bowl performance will have optimism riding high in Provo for next season as well. The regular season will start with some stiff challenges once again next fall with a home game against Utah to open the year followed by a road trip to Tennessee and then a home game against USC and Washington in consecutive weeks.

Western Michigan will go back to the drawing board a bit to try putting together a better season. Since going to the Cotton Bowl with an undefeated regular season a couple of years ago, the Broncos have gone 13-12 the last two seasons under head coach Tim Lester. The Broncos lost four of their last five games with the loss in the Potato Bowl with a couple of blowouts and a victory over the MAC champion Northern Illinois making it difficult to project just what to expect from the Broncos next season. This was a game that just got out of hand for Western Michigan after halftime and Wilson was just on a different level passing the football for BYU.

Mike Riley doesn’t name names, but confirms suspensions for 5 Huskers

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Nebraska will suspend five players for the season opener against BYU, new head coach Mike Riley confirmed, but the names of those players will not be shared by Riley at this time. Riley said “it will become obvious as the kickoff occurs,” when asked for clarification in which players will be suspended for Nebraska’s season opener in Lincoln against BYU.

Word of the suspensions broke via a profile piece from The Portland Tribune, in which Riley asked about players that will not be available for the first game of the season. The story revealed five players will be suspended, one of which was reported to be a starting defensive player. The names of those players, however, were left out of the feature.

Nebraska will already have their hands full with a decent BYU, and losing a defensive starter would make things slightly more difficult, regardless of the player and position. Nebraska hosts BYU on Saturday, September 5 to open the new season.

BYU will also be playing through some suspensions. Linebacker Sione Takitaki has been suspended by the Cougars following misdemeanor theft charges. BYU is also expected to discipline some players for the season opener as a result of last year’s Miami Beach Bowl Brawl against Memphis. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall has remained silent on which players will be disciplined and to what degree that could entail, but suspensions served in the season opener would seem to be pretty standard. Memphis suspended 12 players.