Aleva Hifo tosses the ball to the referee after a big gain against USC. BYU topped No. 24 USC in overtime 30-27 Saturday, Sept. 14. (Hannah Miner)

BYU football has faced two overtime games in the last two weeks and has come out on top both times, giving BYU national attention. The Cougars were left out of the top-25 in the AP Poll but did receive 12 votes to be included on the list, the most they have received this season. These 12 votes are the seventh most received by an unranked team.

The Cougars slipped past Tennessee on Sept. 7th and pulled off a comeback win of 29-26 in double overtime. On Sept. 14, they took their overtime talents to LaVell Edwards Stadium and upset No. 24 USC with a 30-27 overtime victory.

Head coach Kalani Sitake said the team has been preparing for high-stress situations, and while he would rather the team win in regulation, he’s enjoyed watching them work together in these overtime contests.

“It was a lot of fun. Obviously we don’t want to have it be a habit, but I’ll take it,” Sitake said.

Overtime play looks different this season than it has in years past after the NCAA made a few adjustments going into 2019.

The first two overtime periods in a game will look the same as before, with both teams getting an opportunity on offense. The teams start their drives on the 25-yard line and go until they kick a field goal, score a touchdown or turn the ball over.

Zach Wilson gets hoisted into the air as the offense runs off the field after a touchdown against USC. (Hannah Miner)

When the third overtime is reached, teams must attempt a two-point conversion if they score a touchdown. The rule will help shorten games that might otherwise keep going much longer.

If a game reaches the fifth overtime period or beyond, teams will run one play from the two-yard line. Each overtime period consists of one possession for either team.

Having now overcome two high-stress overtime games, the Cougars are confident as they gear up to face No. 22 Washington on Sept. 21.

The Huskies currently sit at 2-1 on the season with wins over Eastern Washington and Hawaii and a loss to California.

Once ranked as high as No. 14, the Huskies dropped in rankings after their 20-19 loss to then unranked California. At the time, the loss came as a surprise to many in the college football world, but with California now ranked at No. 23, just one spot behind No. 22 Washington, the Huskies are poised to climb back into the nation’s spotlight.

The Huskies faced a Hawaii team that went 2-0 with wins against Arizona and Oregon State, and Washington was able to stop the Rainbow Warriors abruptly with a 52-20 win. Until this game, Hawaii had not scored fewer than 30 points in a game this season.

BYU fans hurdle the barriers and storm the field following BYU’s upset victory over No. 24 USC. (Hannah Miner)

Washington scored the first 38 points in its big win over Hawaii, and quarterback Jacob Eason and receiver Hunter Bryant connected for 115 yards on five passes.

Eason is 63 for 91 through the air this season, adding seven touchdowns and only one interception. The Lake Stevens, Wash., native stands at 6-foot-6, giving him reach over every defensive player on BYU’s roster with exception of 6-foot-7 Devin Kaufusi.

As a whole, the run game for Washington was also strong against Hawaii. It was very much a “run by committee” effort for the Huskies with six different player recording at least one touch on the ground. The team finished with 193 yards on the ground, lead by Salvon Ahmed who tallied 83 yards rushing. In the week prior against California, Ahmed finished the game with 119 rushing yards.

This strong rushing offense may prove to be a tough matchup for BYU football, which has struggled against the run offense through its first three games of the season, allowing an average of 225 rushing yards per game. Of the 130 FBS teams with recorded rushing defense stats, BYU ranks 119th for rushing defense.

BYU and Washington are set to kickoff at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 21. The game will be televised nationally on ABC or ESPN 2, depending on geographic location.

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