OK, I care nothing about either of these two teams, but Washington got hosed on a penalty call that may have been correct by the rule, but that may have created an absolute travesty of justice.
To recap: Washington was behind by 7 points very late. They scored a touchdown with 0:02 left on the clock in the 4th quarter. The runner, excited about scoring an apparent game-tying touchdown, tumbled into the end zone and then threw the ball into the air.
The refs called a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Washington runner. The excessive celebration rule explicitly states that throwing the ball high into the air is a penalty. The touchdown counted, but 15 yards were marked off on the extra point, creating a 35 yard extra point. Knowing what we know about college kickers and kicking units (they're unreliable), it is no surprise that the extra point was blocked, and BYU won by a point.
Let's be clear, the kick was blocked, and it appears from replays that if the guy who blocked it hadn't been there, any of about 2 or 3 other players could have blocked it. That is to say, the protection was horrible. Had the penalty not been called, would it have made a difference? Hard to say. Maybe the penalty affected the kicking team mentally. Maybe a regular extra point would have allowed the kicker to pop it up more.
The world will never know if the penalty actually made a difference, but the damage has been done because the media is talking about it. For what it's worth, the penalty call appears to have been correct within the rules. But was it wise? If that's a penalty, is the rule too restrictive?
I don't have a problem with an excessive celebration penalty existing in college football. I don't want to return to the days of choreographed dances after a touchdown. On the other hand, the game of football is not served by removing displays of genuine emotion.
Football is a game of collisions, of high energy, of adrenaline rushes, of aggression. It is impossible to decouple the game of football from intense emotions, and we shouldn't try. The college game is emotional to an even greater degree than professional football, for reasons too complex to fully explain here (I think it has to do with money and capitalism, but that may be too simplistic).
A rule that penalizes displays of genuine emotion during an emotional game is a bad rule and needs to be changed. When that bad rule actually maybe changes the outcome of a game, a travesty of justice may have occurred.