Full disclosure, this analysis contains a lot of woulda coulda shoulda. I’m going to analyze points we left on the board and points the referees effectively stole from us to make my predictions. I’m going to keep a running score along the way. While I know this analysis is pointless, it will hopefully be very therapeutic for me. Maybe it will for you as well…
Ohio State has all the momentum and Garrett Wilson makes an outstanding catch. It is called an incompletion but is called for review just as Dobbins appears to be taking an off tackle play into the end zone. While the review gave the Buckeyes the catch, it clearly stopped their momentum and stole what appeared to be a Dobbins TD. We end up getting a field goal instead. For that reason, I’m adding 4 points (+4 for the refs)
Q1 Score should be 14-0
Dobbins drops TD… This was a tough catch and the correct call on the incompletion. While we lost a potential 4 points on the play, I’m not going to add this to my final prediction because this kind of thing is just part of the game. (+4 potential)
Dobbins drops a clear TD on a screen. Again, Dobbins mistake is totally within his control so I can’t be bothered too much (+4 potential)
Targeting Call directly removes a potential TD for the buckeyes and gives Clemson a TD*.
Q2 Score should be 27-7 and potentially 35-7 if Dobbins controls his plays
*Here’s where the game takes a DRAMATIC and referee driven shift. Full disclosure here… to this point there had been relatively consistent bad calls agains both teams. They missed a bad interference against Ohio State and missed two against Clemson. Clemson also held EVERY SINGLE PLAY in the first half to this point, including a critical hold on Zach Harrison on a 3rd down play in Q1. That all changed with the targeting call. It’s about 50/50 on whether it should have been called but almost everyone who think it was the correct call believe the rule needs changed to make this a legal hit. This was really the first play I didn’t see clear holding on Clemson and obviously Lawrence paid the price. HUGE swing in momentum and HUGE swing in scoring potential. First off, the play removed a turnover on downs. Second, we lost a key player. And third, we lost critical momentum. There’s a reason teams score with a high percentage after being gifted a free set of downs by penalty. This needs to be factored to an even higher degree due to the nature of this event. IMO, if the play had stayed as called, we get the ball back and score relatively easily. Clemson would have been totally demoralized and Ohio State would have been sky high. EASY SCORE for the Buckeyes in my opinion and obviously Clemson’s points get taken off the board. Easily a 14 point swing. The route would have been on and we possibly see an LSU-Oklahoma type game. Remember these are kids and becoming hopeless plays a huge role in their performance. You better believe being down 27-0 would make a HUGE impact on Clemson’s psyche.
15 Yard Penalty for roughing the kicker. This was a horrible call. It probably could have been Running into the kicker which would have been 5 yards and another punt. Possibly shouldn’t have even been a penalty. According to the rules, “Roughing” is endangering the kicker. An example would be violently tackling him instead of going for the ball. “Running into the kicker” is when a player unintentionally runs into the kicker without an endangering intent. This would be if a player goes for a block, misses, and runs into the kicker. What happened on this play was a Buckeye player clearly trying to avoid the punter and the punter’s momentum took him into the Buckeye player. The buckeye player did NOT run into the kicker — it was the other way around. That being said, referees generally assume the momentum is part of the Punter’s “halo” even though that term is technically not in the rules definition. At worst, this is a redo, at best, this shouldn’t even have been a call. Clemson scores almost immediately. (-7 to Clemson)
Fumble return reversal. Egregiously bad call here. Certain +7 for the buckeyes. What’s worse is this actually contributed to Fields first interception which happened after the subsequent punt. Clemson never scored after the interception but all of this factors into the overall momentum and progression of the gameplan.
Q3 score should be 34-7 and potentially 42-7
Honestly, the 4th quarter was pretty clean. There were no direct point swings correlating with bad calls on the field but the damage had been done and done to an extreme extent — one I’ve never seen in my life.
Q4 score should be 41-14 and potentially 49-14.
So why are Buckeyes so pissed about this game? Well, if you just forget about the self-inflicted miscues and look only at the referee impact, the referees CERTAINLY took away 7 for the buckeyes and gave Clemson a free 14. That’s an unambiguous swing of 21 points. The reality is closer to a deduction of 11 or 18 points for the Buckeyes. If this game was played again, I wouldn’t hesitate to take the buckeyes with a line of (-14.5, o/u 45). Personally, I’d have the score at 42-21.