College Football Overtime (Cont.)
The first-ever Pac-12 league game between USC and Utah provided a full-blown officiating controversy. It didn't determine the outcome of the game, but it did have some serious ramifications in Las Vegas.
USC's Matt Kalil blocked Utah's attempted game-tying field goal on the final play to preserve a 17-14 lead, and Torin Harris returned it 65 yards for an apparent icing-on-the-cake touchdown. However, because USC coaches and players poured onto the field while the play was ongoing, officials called unsportsmanlike conduct on the Trojans. Fans headed to the exits and reporters began filing their stories believing the final score was 17-14.
Not until hours after the game did the Pac-12 send out a statement "correcting" the final score to 23-14, with conference officiating consultant Mike Pereira noting that unsportsmanlike penalties against substitutes are considered dead-ball fouls, normally enforced on the next play. But there was no next play.
Pandemonium ensued in large part because the otherwise superfluous touchdown meant USC covered the 8.5-point spread after all, which of course raised all sorts of suspicion. Who's ever heard of a conference overruling its officials as to the final score?
However, it's important to note that nobody "overruled" anyone. On Sunday, Pac-12 Coordinator of Football Officiating Tony Corrente issued a statement clarifying the situation. "The final play of the game between USC and Utah was ruled properly and the touchdown did stand," said Corrente. "There was a miscommunication between the officials and the press box that led to the confusion about the final score. We will make the appropriate adjustments to improve communication between on field officials and press box personnel so that we avoid any scoring issues in the future."
What caused the confusion? None of the refs actually signaled a touchdown. In announcing the penalty, referee Jack Folliard said: "By rule, the game is over," but he, too, neglected to mention any touchdown.
"It took a while," said USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone, "but ultimately everybody got it right." That's no solace to anyone holding a USC ticket in Vegas: The major sports books declined to honor the corrected score, seeing as many Utah bettors had already collected their winnings. Both the school and conference were quick to point out that's not their concern.
My reaction to the latest AP and Coaches' polls:
Overrated: Mississippi State (AP and Coaches': No. 25)
This team is still ranked because ... I guess because it plays in the SEC West. But Dan Mullen has yet to beat an SEC West team other than Ole Miss. Perhaps pollsters could have found someone more deserving.
Underrated: UCF (unranked)
Jeff Godfrey and the Knights took down Boston College 30-3, with the defense absolutely stifling Eagles quarterback Chase Rettig, who threw for 70 yards and two interceptions. This is an SEC defense playing in Conference USA.
Each week, I'll update my projected BCS lineup (as necessary) based on the latest week's games. Here's my preseason edition:
Title game: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Rose: Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Fiesta: Nebraska vs. Boise State
Sugar: South Carolina vs. Florida State
Orange: Virginia Tech vs. USF
Only one change this week: Wisconsin and Nebraska flip-flop, with the Badgers to the Rose Bowl and the Huskers to the Fiesta. Russell Wilson and Co. have looked dominant so far, albeit against light competition, while Taylor Martinez and Co. struggled to put away Fresno State. The Huskers' offense may run into trouble in the Big Ten, but it's not like the rest of the conference is tearing it up, either.
Nobody can say why it took Denard Robinson three quarters to get going against Notre Dame, but once he did ... my heavens. And while he mostly looked like his old, freelancing self during the Wolverines' fourth-quarter surge, it's worth nothing that Sholeace completed all four of his touchdown passes from under center, while his two interceptions came from the shotgun.
Brady Hoke and coordinator Al Borges have clearly had an impact on Robinson, though through three quarters it did not seem positive.
The Jadeveon Clowney era has officially begun. While fellow South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram got the glory for two touchdowns (one on a fake punt, one on a fumble recovery) against Georgia, the frightening freshman Clowney had two sacks, the latter coming when the Bulldogs inexplicably left him unblocked and causing the fumble that Ingram returned for a score. The next three years might not be the most enjoyable for SEC East quarterbacks.
Thankfully, Minnesota coach Jerry Kill was reported to be improving and resting comfortably Sunday after suffering a seizure and collapsing on the sideline late in Saturday's game against New Mexico State. It was a scary moment, but Minnesota's staff was prepared; Kill had two previous occurrences while coaching at Southern Illinois. He should return to work shortly, and he certainly has work to do after the Gophers lost at home, 28-21, to the lowly Aggies.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer earned his 200th career win in very Beamer-esque fashion: with the Hokies limiting a powerful East Carolina offense to just 112 total yards in a 17-10 win. It wasn't a memorable day for the Virginia Tech offense, however, with quarterback Logan Thomas completing just 8-of-20 passes for 91 yards and an interception, and the Hokies committing 12 penalties for 92 yards and two turnovers.
Tennessee's Tyler Bray showed promise as a freshman last season, but now he's blossoming into a truly elite quarterback. With help from talented receivers Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter, Bray went 34-of-41 for 405 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-23 win over Cincinnati. Get used to it, because Bray, Rogers and Hunter are all sophomores. "I've never had three of them like this, this young," said Vols coach Derek Dooley. "I hope they keep doing what they're doing."
Another emerging star: Arizona State's Brock Osweiler, who picked apart Missouri's defense to the tune of 353 yards and three touchdowns on 24-of-32 passing. The 6-foot-8 junior executes coordinator Noel Mazzone's vertical spread passing attack with precision. The Sun Devils still needed overtime to survive the Tigers, 37-30, but they're one of just two Pac-12 South teams that hasn't lost a game already. The other, USC, is ineligible for the league title game.