NCAA FB

Key calls determined Big Ten title game

Mike Pereira breaks down a call from Wisconsin's win over Michigan State.
Mike Pereira breaks down a call from Wisconsin's win over Michigan State.
Share This Story

Mike Pereira

Mike Pereira was the NFL's Vice President of Officiating from 2004-09, having spent the five seasons previous to that as the league's Director of Officiating. He also served as an NFL game official when he acted as a side judge for two seasons (1997-98). Follow him on Twitter.

MORE>>
 
   
 

Wisconsin-Michigan State, the rematch, was definitely the clear-cut, undisputed champion of Championship Weekend.

CFB

ASK MIKE

Our football refereeing guru is on Twitter and takes your questions during live events. See his latest tweets and his latest analysis.

The Spartans defeated the to-that-point-unbeaten Badgers on a Hail Mary back on the final play of the game on Oct. 22. Saturday night on FOX, they played another masterpiece in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game.

Once again it came down to the closing minutes, but this time Wisconsin won, 42-39. And like the Hail Mary play, in which a lengthy review was needed to confirm whether the ball broke the plane of the end zone, Saturday night’s game came down to a late call by the official.

The Badgers, holding a 42-39 lead with 1:37 left, were facing a fourth down and 3 at their own 26-yard line, the Spartans eager to get the ball back. Wisconsin’s Brad Nortman punted the ball away, but Michigan State’s Isaiah Lewis was called for running into the punter, which gave Wisconsin five yards and a first down. The Badgers then ran out the clock.

You hate to see a game end like that, but it was clearly running into the punter and definitely a good call by referee Bill LeMonnier.

The kicker is protected from any and all contact, and it’s the severity of the contact which determines whether it is roughing or running into the kicker. Replays showed there was clearly contact and, although Lewis was being blocked, it did not significantly change his direction. If it would have, it wouldn’t have been a foul.

**********

Another play I want to break down also took place late in the fourth quarter, and also went against Michigan State. But again, it was the correct call.

Here was the situation:

Michigan State had the ball, third-and 8 at the Spartans’ 39 with 3:05 left in the game. Wisconsin was leading 42-39. Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins completed a 26-yard pass to Keshawn Martin on the sideline that was ruled a catch on the field. After an officials’ review, the play was reversed to an incomplete pass and the Spartans were forced to punt.

This was an incomplete pass for two reasons: First, they ruled Martin’s toe was down on the sideline, which made the pass incomplete. Second, even if the toe was in bounds, they would have changed the ruling to incomplete because Martin lost possession of the ball when he hit the ground out of bounds. This automatically would have made the pass incomplete because Martin was touching a loose ball while being out of bounds and before he completed the process of making the catch.

Yes fans, the process of the catch applies to college football, also.

**********

Here are a few other calls worth noting during the Big Ten Championship Game:

The situation: Wisconsin had the ball, third-and-2 at the Michigan State 41 with 4:59 left in the first quarter. The score was tied 7-7.

The play: Wisconsin’s Montee Ball took a handoff from quarterback Russell Wilson then passed it back to Wilson for 32 yards to the Michigan State 9-yard line.

My take: This is another one of the rule differences between college and the NFL. In college, a quarterback lined up under center is considered an eligible receiver; therefore, Wilson legally was downfield prior to the pass and legally touched the ball. In the NFL, in order to run that play legally, the quarterback would have to start in the shotgun formation. I like the college rule better. It gives us another exciting play.

BIG TEN ACTION

Have a look at the best Big Ten title game photos right here.

**********

The situation: After a great scoring play by the Spartans in which Kirk Cousins passed to Keith Nichol, who lateralled the ball to B.J. Cunningham for seven yards and a score, Michigan State was attempting the PAT, trailing 21-20.

The play: Michigan State faked the PAT kick, and holder Brad Sonntag rushed the ball in for a successful 2-point conversation.

My take: My Twitter followers have been asking about this all year long. The holder of the kick may get possession of the ball with his knee on the ground and then get up and run or pass as long as there is a kicker in position behind the holder at the snap or if the kicker simulates kicking the ball. Remember Lucy from Charlie Brown? After playing a trick on Charlie Brown by lifting the ball off the ground when Charlie was trying to kick it, Lucy could have gotten up and advanced the ball the same way Sonntag did for Michigan State.

**********

And here a few key plays from the other games on Saturday:

The game: Virginia Tech vs. Clemson (ACC Championship Game)

The situation: Virginia Tech had the ball, third-and-13 at the Hokies’ 48 with 3:45 left in the third quarter. Clemson led 31-10.

The play: Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas completed a 29-yard pass to Jarrett Boykin to the Clemson 23-yard line. A pass interference penalty was called on Clemson’s Coty Sensabaugh; Boykin was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for spiking the ball because he thought the referee hadn’t called the interference. The pass interference penalty was declined, but the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was enforced, giving the Hokies a first-and-25 at the Clemson 38.

My take: In the NFL, when live ball fouls combine with dead ball fouls, the penalties offset. Not the case in college football. Both penalties are enforced. In this case, the pass interference penalty was declined because the ball was caught with a gain of more than 15 yards, then the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was enforced. This another one of the rules differences from Saturday to Sunday.

SEC ACTION

Have a look at the best SEC title game photos right here.

The game: Georgia vs. LSU (SEC Championship Game)

The situation: Georgia had the ball, fourth-and-20 at the Bulldogs’ 3 with 6:08 left in the second quarter. Georgia led 10-0.

The play: Georgia’s Drew Butler punted the ball 59 yards to the LSU 38, and Tyrann Mathieu returned the ball 62 yards for a touchdown.

My take: At first glance, this looked like a touchdown. However, CBS showed a down-the-goal-line replay several minutes after Mathieu scored. In slow motion you could clearly see that Mathieu tossed the ball to the referee prior to the ball breaking the plane. The ball left his hand inside the 1-yard line and touched the line judge’s right arm, which was actually in the end zone. Rule 2, Section 19, Article 2 states: ``A pass is thrown forward if the ball strikes the ground, a player, an official or anything else beyond the spot where the ball is released.’’ This then became an illegal forward pass, since it occurred after a change of possession. The penalty is five yards from the spot of the pass, therefore, this should have been LSU’s ball, first and goal from the 6. Some of my Twitter followers asked why the replay official didn’t stop this. But nobody noticed this until CBS showed the down-the-line shot.

WEEK 14 ACTION

Looking for Week 14 photos? We've got the best shots right here.

The game: Texas at Baylor

The situation: Texas had the ball, third-and-2 at the Baylor 8 with 11:05 left in the fourth quarter. Baylor led 41-24.

The play: Texas’ Cody Johnson rushed the ball for two yards but fumbled it as he was going to the ground. It was recovered by Baylor’s Ahmad Dixon. After an officials review, the play stood as called, giving the Bears the ball at their 12.

My take: I love it when the referee says the ruling on the field STANDS. That’s a lot better than reversing a call without indisputable video evidence. You look at this play and you could make a case either way — that it was a fumble or that the runner was down — it was that close. The ball looked like it was just starting to come out when Johnson’s knees first touched down. It’s that close, even in slow motion. Leave it in the hands of the on-field officials when it’s that close.

ACC ACTION

Have a look at the best ACC title game photos right here.

The game: Virginia Tech vs. Clemson (ACC Championship Game)

The situation: Clemson had the ball, fourth-and-12 at the Tigers’ 32 with 5:04 left in the second quarter. Clemson led 10-7.

The play: Virginia Tech’s James Hopper was called for roughing the kicker on Clemson punter Dawson Zimmerman and the Tigers were awarded a first down at their 47-yard line. The replay official initiated a review to see if Hopper touched the ball, but after the review, the play stood as called.

My take: Running or roughing into the kicker is not to be called if the player who makes contact with the kicker touches the kick before the contact occurs. Under replay rules, touching of the kick is reviewable; therefore, when reviewing the play, if you have indisputable video evidence that the ball was touched, the flag is to be picked up. In this case, the replay official did not feel that there was enough video evidence to reverse the call made by the referee.

Tagged: Clemson, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, LSU, Georgia, Baylor, Texas, Montee Ball, Keshawn Martin, Russell Wilson, Brad Sonntag, Kirk Cousins, Tyrann Mathieu

More Stories From Mike Pereira

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash