Don’t fear Dec. 21 — I will save you

It was such an uneventful day in college football Friday that one of my Twitter followers asked me about my prediction for when I thought the world would end.

The Mayan calendar believes the world will cease to exist in about a month, on Dec. 21.

I certainly hope not, because we’d miss the BCS bowls and the NFL playoffs, and heaven knows we wouldn’t want that. But whatever my guess would be, my only desire would be that big replay booth in the sky would initiate a challenge and call a penalty on me.

The only thing that could possibly save us would be a play involving a “halo effect.” We’re in luck — and I may have just saved the world — because we had exactly that in the Washington-Washington State game.

Here was the situation: Washington State had a 10-7 lead and the ball, fourth down and 9 at its own 38-yard line with 13:56 left in the third quarter.

The Cougars’ Michael Bowlin punted the ball 41 yards to Washington’s Cody Bruns, who called for a fair catch. Washington’s Adam Long pushed WSU’s Nolan Washington in the back, and into Bruns. A flag came out, which initially appeared to be for fair-catch interference on Nolan Washington, but instead was a penalty on Long for an illegal block in the back.

The rules give the receiver of a kick two forms of protection once he calls for a fair catch. The first is that the receiver can’t be hit before, during or after catching the kick. The second part, which is new, brings back a version of the “halo rule.” A member of the kicking team cannot be within one yard of the kick receiver if the kicking-team member is directly in front of the receiver. The rule states: If interference with a potential receiver is the result of being blocked by an opponent, is it not a foul.

The officials did a good job of eventually calling the illegal block in the back that created the potential for interference.

Here are some other interesting plays from Friday.



The game: LSU at Arkansas

The situation: Arkansas had the ball, second and 10 at the LSU 18 with six seconds left in the game. LSU led, 20-13.

The play: Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson’s pass to Mekale McKay in the end zone was incomplete. Time expired and the game was declared over.

My take: Remember in 2009 at the end of the Texas-Nebraska Big 12 championship game when Texas quarterback Colt McCoy’s pass hit the ground out of bounds and the game clock expired? After reviewing the play, the officials added one second back on the clock and the Longhorns ended up kicking a field goal to win the game and earn a spot in the BCS championship game. That’s what should have happened in the LSU-Arkansas game. There was still one second remaining on the clock when Wilson’s pass hit the ground. Here’s the interesting thing. It wasn’t a rule in 2009, but the referees actually put one second back on the clock. In 2011, the NCAA made it officially a rule. The rule states: “If the replay official has indisputable visual evidence that time should have remained on the game clock when the ball became dead, he may restore time back on the clock.” He didn’t here, but he should have. Arkansas should have had one more play.



The game: LSU at Arkansas (yup, we had two from this game)

The situation: Arkansas had the ball, third and 15 from the Arkansas 39 line with 38 seconds left in the second quarter. LSU led 10-0.

The play: Wilson threw an incomplete pass that appeared to set up fourth down. However, LSU’s Barkevious Mingo was called for roughing the passer.

My take: Although the announcers thought this hit was legal and a few of our Twitter followers agreed (obviously LSU fans), this is exactly what the NCAA and the NFL want called as roughing the passer. Mingo launches and makes contact at or near the head or neck area. There was no attempt to tackle and, in my mind, only an intent to punish. I would expect this to be called 10 out of 10 times. With all of the quarterback injuries in both college and the NFL, more and more emphasis will be on protecting quarterbacks.



The game: Washington at Washington State (another double-dip game!)

The situation: Washington State had the ball, third and 5 at the Cougars’ 10 with 14:05 left in the second quarter. Washington State led 3-0.

The play: The Huskies’ Justin Glenn intercepted Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel’s pass intended for Brett Bartolone. Bartolone briefly has his hands on the ball but didn’t control it, which allowed Glenn to get control while making the tackle, his shoulder and helmet landing in bounds before he rolled out of bounds. Washington State challenged the call, and the play was upheld.

My take: This is my definition of a silly challenge: Challenging the ruling of the replay official on a call already confirmed by that same replay official. Can you imagine that conversation when the referee says to the replay official, “He’s challenging the ruling of interception that you’ve already said was an interception.” That would be a short conversation. “Uh, well guess what, it’s confirmed again.” I think this is a silly rule. In the college game, I would just put it entirely in the replay official’s hands and leave the coaches out of it entirely.



The game: Nebraska at Iowa

The situation: Nebraska had the ball, second and 7 from its 18 with 13:47 left in the fourth quarter. The Cornhuskers led 13-7.

The play: Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez carried the ball for 4 yards and then tried to pitch the ball to running back Ameer Abdullah a little past the 23-yard line. No penalty was called, and Nebraska ended up with a first down. However, after a review, an illegal forward pass was called on Martinez and Nebraska was penalized 5 yards.

My take: Some people didn’t realize that replay can create penalties. In this case, the ball was pitched forward beyond the line of scrimmage and therefore was an illegal forward pass. Although a penalty was not called, replay can change it to a forward pass and enforce a 5-yard penalty for it being illegal beyond the line. Other penalties which can be enforced upon video review, even if not called on the field, include: 12 men on the field and illegal touching of a pass or kick. The rule coincides with the NFL rule.