Why Miami-Duke finish was craziest ever and never should have counted

November 1, 2015

For almost 35 years, the Stanford band play where Cal beat its archrival with a five-lateral frenzy was the hands-down No. 1 pick for wildest finish in college football history. That may have changed Saturday night, fittingly on Halloween, as Miami pulled off a stunning eight-lateral endeavor that lasted an amazing 49 seconds and ultimately included (at least) three blown calls. One of the calls went against Miami. The other two bailed out the ’Canes’ miraculous finish.

The Stanford band play seemed orderly compared to the chaos from this finish and subsequent handling of it all by the ACC refs. The ball zig-zagged across the field several times and went back some 20 yards at one point. This wasn’t a kick-6 or a Hail Mary or from a crazy bounce or deflected ball.

Miami defensive back Corn Elder capped off the 75-yard return by sprinting into the Duke end zone with a convoy. However there was a flag at the Duke 25-yard line for an illegal block in the back. FOX Sports Rules Analyst Mike Pereira said that block was actually a legal block, where the UM player hit the Duke defender on the side, not in the back.

However, after studying the tape in replay numerous times, Pereira noted that No. 22 on the ’Canes delivered a clear block in the back at the Miami 15 to help spring the play.


What made this finish even wilder than the Stanford band play was the dubious handling of all this Saturday by the ACC officials after their nine-minute review.

"It’s Halloween and Duke got tricked,” said Pereira. “The replay (booth) got involved and did something they shouldn’t have done. The crew used replay to pick up the flag which they can’t do.”

In addition, there are screenshots that show what also seemed like another blown call, where a Miami ball-carrier’s knee was down moments before lateraling the ball off.

Several folks also noticed that a Miami player ran onto the field with his helmet off, but Pereira said that’d be a "dead-ball foul" and wouldn’t have nullified the play.

In the game Miami was flagged for 23 penalties while No. 22 Duke was called for five. Miami won 30-27.

The crazy Miami finish comes at the end of what has been a tumultuous week for Miami players that saw them lose to Clemson 58-0 in the worst loss in school history, which was followed by their head coach Al Golden getting fired, which was followed by the death of standout DB Artie Burns’ mother who many of the players had known for years and then this, the wildest finish in college football history.

Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FS1. He is also a New York Times best-selling author. His new book, “The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks,” came out in October 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB and Facebook.