THE GRUDGE REPORT: OU gets beat by Technology as much as KState
The picture you see above this story is Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley celebrating another Big 12 title with his team.
What Riley really wants is to be standing on the Superdome floor in New Orleans in January, celebrating an OU national championship.
That is LESS likely to happen now than it was a few days ago.
Because the Sooners watched their defense collapse in a stunning 48-41 loss at Kansas State on Saturday.
Upsets are part of the fabric of college football and we would have no problem--nor probably would the Sooners--accepting the defeat if had been a normal "upset''.
But OU's first loss of the season was tinged in controversy and the latest example of technology infringing on the natural ebb and flow of a big time college football game on national television.
The condensed version of what happened was that OU, plagued by 5 turnovers, found itself trailing Kansas State 48-23 two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Not much was at stake for the 5th ranked Sooners.
Just a chance to compete for a national championship and possibly a third consecutive Heisman Trophy by an OU QB.
It was time Oklahoma and quarterback Jalen Hurts to turn on the afterburners and change this from a disaster to a scare.
The Sooners climbed back until they trailed 48-41 with 1:45 remaining in regulation time.
Onsides kick time, which everyone was expecting. It was executed nearly flawlessly as the football bounced and twisted and spun and landed up in Oklahoma's hands.
Well not exactly. After looking at several angles of the replay from several different angles, the officials judged that the ball had bounced off an Oklahoma player 9.5 yards (Onsides kicks are required to go 10 yards before the kicking team can attempt to recover the kick).
And just like that the OU comeback was over and a blemish was on the record of a team which didn't have much equity in the respect for their schedule, a major issue in deciding which team make it to the Final Four.
First of all, let's not assume that even if the call had gone Oklahoma's way, the Sooners would have been able to score a game tying or winning TD.
But it would have been fun to watch.
The call reversal, in our opinion, was not conclusive. Depending on the camera angle, either the football had traveled 10 yards or it hadn't. It was at the very least "disputable.''
Which gets to the heart of the replay issue--calls are only to be reversed if indisputable evidence shows. At least that's what the rules say.
Game referee Reggie Smith tried to explain the decision in a statement, ""We did consider all aspects of forced touching. However, based on Rule 2-11-4-c That was the primary determination for considering forced touching.''
But replays also show that the Oklahoma player was blocked into the ball by a Kansas State player.
Which leads us to Rule 2-11-4-c which states, "If the touching is forced, the player in question by the rule has not touched the ball
Ou ball right?
Yeah, maybe, could be.
What the television audience and the crowd at Kansas State saw was Oklahoma RECOVER the kick.
We are not here to bad mouth the replay process. It has become a necessary part of the game to make sure the right calls are made and they still make mistakes.
Ask the New Orleans Saints about the non call made in their NFC championship game last season against the Los Angeles Rams.
Ask the University of Washington, which has to live with the admission by Pac-12 officials that they missed a pass interference call against Oregon in the Huskies, which would have given the Huskies in the red zone in the final minutes of what turned into a 35-31 Oregon victory.
A Washington victory would have virtually eliminated the Pac-12 from the Final Four discussion.
Oklahoma can still make it to the Final Four by winning the rest of its games and finishing with another Big 12 title and a 12-1 record. But now the Sooners need some upsets in the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 to make that happen.
Getting the call right and correcting mistakes is good for the game, but we are not sure that a mistake was made on Oklahoma's on-side kick.
Too close to call?
When that happens, it should be simple. Don't call it.
That didn't happen on Saturday. Oklahoma is in trouble and Wisconsin and Notre Dame (big losers to Ohio State and Michigan) are basically eliminated, which is the way it happens every year as teams come up short.
That's the system and, while it has flaws, it still works most of the time as the teams start to establish a pecking order.
But it didn't work for Oklahoma, which left Riley disappointed and philosophical.
""We didn't do the things well when we fought and we won,'' said Riley, after the game. "A win on the road is hard. It was a 50-50 call that didn't go our way.''
Which leaves us with what as we approach next week's first committee rankings?
In our opinion the first four should be LSU, Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson,not necessarily in that order.
Thus far, those look like the four best teams, with Penn State on the fringe, ready to jump into the group.
Other than that it is merely a matter of luck and good and bad calls, which Oklahoma is now learning.