College Football Overtime (cont.)
If there's one thing I learned from last week's Syracuse-Toledo extra point snafu, it's that people get more worked up about officiating errors than anything besides the BCS, polls and realignment. So this week I offer up two tales of referees gone wild.
The first comes from Air Force-Navy, a dramatic, well-played rivalry game that was unfortunately decided in part by a penalty. After Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor scored a go-ahead touchdown in overtime to put the Midshipmen up 34-28 (this on the heels of an 18-point fourth quarter comeback), officials flagged Proctor for unsportsmanlike conduct after he appeared to say something unkind to a Falcons defender in close proximity. "Some guy got in my way and I just told him to move explicitly," said Proctor.
Much like in the infamous Jake Locker-BYU game three years ago, Jon Teague's extra-point attempt was moved back 15 yards, and Air Force's Alex Means blocked it. Tim Jefferson then scored the winning touchdown for the Falcons, who took a huge step toward retaining the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Navy fullback Alexander Teich was not pleased.
"This is an emotional game. These guys know that coming in as a ref," Teich said. "You're reffing on CBS the Navy-Air Force game. There's no more emotion, you can't get any more psyched up about a game like that. You score a touchdown like that at the end, we'd fought back and worked so hard, it's disappointing. It's pitiful, really, it's pitiful."
This one was a judgment call, not an error. But if the MAC went to bat for Toledo, just imagine whom Navy could bring in. Special congressional committee, anyone?
Meanwhile, in Ruston, La., Hawaii and Louisiana Tech staged what the Shreveport Times said "may have been the worst officiated game in WAC history." Among the highlights: Hawaii receiving the kickoff in both halves ("I still haven't gotten an explanation on that one," Tech coach Sonny Dykes said afterward) and a 22-minute second-quarter delay while replay officials tried to figure out whether Hawaii had been given a fifth down ("I'm still waiting to find out what happened there," said Dykes).
Hawaii won, 44-26, and while Tech AD Bruce Van De Velde wasn't blaming the officials for the outcome, he "will pursue a review of the officiating of this game with the WAC office," he said. "... Hawaii is very good. But it was officiated badly."
Beware, Texas State and UT-San Antonio. This is what you're getting into.
When Auburn survived Utah State on opening weekend thanks in part to a perfectly executed onside kick, it went down at the time as the latest example of the Tigers' charmed existence. Little did we know it was a preview of the Aggies' horrific luck.
Gary Andersen's team fell to 1-3 last Friday when, with 11 seconds left, BYU backup quarterback Riley Nelson -- who'd replaced an ineffective Jake Heaps -- threw a 13-yard pass that Utah State defensive back Will Harris unwittingly deflected right into the hands of Cougars receiver Marcus Matthews for a game-winning touchdown. Much like in the Auburn game, the Aggies had plenty of chances to stop BYU sooner. Nelson had to lead his team on a 96-yard drive and complete a 40-yard pass to set up the final score, but that didn't make it any less heartbreaking.
This after Utah State lost to Colorado State on a failed two-point conversion in overtime a week earlier.
"This is as hard of a stretch as I have ever been through," said Andersen.
"We could be 4-0 right now," said running back Robert Turbin. "We're not."
If there' any consolation for the Aggies, it's that none of the losses came in conference play. The WAC sans Boise State is pretty much wide open (Fresno State managed to lose at home to Ole Miss on Saturday), and Utah State seems talented enough to make a run -- as long as those WAC refs don't start giving the Aggies' opponents five downs.
Mini-previews for three of this week's big games:
Oklahoma vs. Texas, Saturday (Noon ET): While school presidents David Boren and William Powers meet somewhere in the Cotton Bowl to plot out the future of the Big 12, Bob Stoops and Mack Brown will stage their latest grudgefest. Texas will need to get its running game going to keep pace with Landry Jones' Sooners.
Florida at LSU, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): Florida freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel will likely make his first career start in Death Valley against LSU's insanely good defensive line. Meanwhile, Les Miles will continue to find ways to get another quarterback, former starter Jordan Jefferson, back on the field.
Ohio State at Nebraska, Saturday (8 p.m. ET): The Tattoo Five (minus Terrelle Pryor) make their triumphant return for the Buckeyes just in time to face an angry, struggling Huskers defense. Ohio State's better bet is to force Taylor Martinez to throw the ball. When that happens, good things often ensue for the other team.
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