It was the college football play of the year--so far. Central Michigan completes a Hail Mary and lateral play that gets it a game winning touchdown on a final--untimed--down to defeat Oklahoma State last Saturday. It was a situation we all love: the "little guy" sticking it to the "big guy". The only problem is, it should not have happened under the rules of college football.
For some background, Oklahoma State had the lead with just a few second left in the game. On fourth down the Cowboys' quarterback threw a pass from the pocket deep down the sidelines and out of bounds--running off the remaining time and giving OK State a narrow win. But the officials flagged the play as Intentional Grounding--as the QB was in the pocket and threw a ball to an area where there was no receivers present. Since the infraction occurred on 4th down--and intentional grounding results in a loss of down--the officials ruled that Central Michigan would get the ball and an untimed down--as the game cannot end on a penalty.
However, the officiating crew did not know the rule that pertains to such end of game scenarios. Yes, Oklahoma State committed intentional grounding--but nowhere in the rules does it allow for the Chippewas to get an untimed down after that. In fact, the rule clearly states that an untimed down does not apply when the team with the ball commits an infraction (which prevents a losing team from continuously committing fouls to extend the game) nor does it apply on any penalty that results in a loss of down--as it did in this case.
Yes, the rule as written benefitted a team that committed the penalty--and it may seem like "justice was served" by the officials botching the call--giving CMU the untimed down--and the resulting miracle touchdown. But the rules are the rules for a reason--and you would not want officials to set them aside (or just plain not know them) at any other point in a contest. That is why there have been calls for the conferences involved--the Big XII and the Mid-American--to reverse the call on the field, nullify the untimed down and credit Oklahoma State with the victory they deserved.
By the way, the officiating crew that worked the game and botched the ending has been suspended indefinitely. If only we could do the same with activist judges that set aside the rules and laws they don't think are "fair"........