Penn State Football: A Look Back at Big Ten Refereeing

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Penn State 34 @ Purdue 9


Penn State: 8 for 75 yards (2 holding)

Purdue: 8 for 88 yards (2 Holding – 1 on kick return)

Questionable Calls: In the first quarter, on second and 10 from their own 8 yard line, Purdue was given a first down and 15 yards on a roughing the passer call on Amos. This call ended up not hurting Penn State, but the egregiousness is still noteworthy. In the second quarter Mauti was flagged 15 yards for kick catch inference when the replay clearly shows he was pushed in the back by a Purdue player; PSU would dodge a bullet here on a missed 45-yard field goal by Purdue. Despite those two calls, neither ultimately hurting PSU, the game was called pretty well, comparatively speaking. I know both sides had pass interference penalties go against them that were iffy, but both would probably concede that they were called correctly.


Penn State 23 @ Nebraska 32


Penn State: 8 for 60 yards (2 Holding)

Nebraska: 7 for 55 yards

Questionable Calls: Up 7-6 in the second quarter, Nebraska was charged with a personal foul. The clock was not reset, to McGloin and O’Brien’s chagrin, and PSU was hit with a delay of game; PSU would have to settle for a field goal here, putting them up 10-6. Up 17-6, Nebraska goes three-and-out and is forced to punt. Maher shanks a punt 16 yards and oddly, without a warning, PSU is hit with a 15-yard personal foul sideline infraction. On replay, it shows nothing out of the ordinary. The official didn’t run into anyone on the sidelines, players didn’t come into the field of play while the ball was in the air – nothing. After the punt sailed out of bounds, quickly mind you because of the shank, PSU begins to bring their offense on the field, to which the official throws his flag. PSU does its best to overcome that call and is faced with a fourth-and-1 at Nebraska’s 16. As they’ve done all season, PSU sneaks for a first down. An official calls a false start, unseen on replay, and without mention of player who committed infraction, forcing PSU to settle for a short field goal. With less than 9 minutes to go in the game, PSU down 27-23, Lehman stretches the ball across the plane for a touchdown to seemingly take a 30-27 lead. However, the replay booth erroneously refuses to overturn the call and Nebraska gets a touchback, leading to Nebraska using clock, flipping the field to PSU’s own 2, and forcing a safety. Like OSU, Nebraska ran the ball 57 times and wasn’t charged with a single hold or illegal block – pretty amazing stat.

Games are not won or lost on a single play – unless it’s a last-second play – but it would be incorrect to believe that every play doesn’t influence the following plays. Penn State can’t get outscored by so much in third quarters and expect to win. McGloin can’t throw pick-sixes either. But in key situations, those in Blue and White are stuck wondering how their team could have responded had they not been fighting an uphill battle. We don’t know what would have happened had PSU not been called for a phantom hold on the punt against Ohio State, or if Lehman’s touchdown is ruled correctly in Lincoln – and that is the frustrating part. Teams should be able to battle on the field to see who was the best that day, not have an outside influence situationally change portions of the contest.

Against Penn State, Ohio State and Nebraska ran the ball a staggering 110 times combined. They were called for a total of ZERO offensive holding or illegal block penalties. Truly astounding. But at the end of the day, it’s just whining about the calls, right?

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