College football and the NFL sure are different beasts. Every game I convince myself which is better, changing my mind weekly on which is superior to the other. A few weeks ago, I finally figured out the fact that you can't compare the two. The ability of one player to dominate in college is unseen in the NFL, except for a select few in select years, such as Tom Brady in 2007 and Adrian Peterson the past two years. The same goes on the team level. Only in college football can a team dominate it's competition for more than a season.
Being on Auburn fan has been tough on me the past three weeks. I have no legit reason to be a fan, but have been since I was about ten, and stuck with them ever since. After starting 5-0 and talk of challenging Alabama for the SEC West crown, the past three contest Auburn has sputtered. Their offense has looked anemic, when just weeks prior was generating talk around the nation. Their defense has been a sieve, allowing Arkansas, Kentucky and LSU, none of which are offensive juggernauts, to either punk them on the scoreboard, or score when allowing a score is not an option. And finally their special teams, which was hidden behind the wins of the early season, has been the same old as all year; not making plays and giving up plays to the other team.
So with a 31-3 score, I made the decision to stop hitting recall on the remote to just watching the Florida Miss. State game. I'd been checking it out periodically throughout the night, and saw a Bulldog team that knew what it wanted. It wanted to take advantage of a prime time game, at their house, and beat Florida in front of the whole nation. What an upset that would be, something that isn't supposed to happen to Florida. When it happened last season, the nation, and the Gators, were shocked together. One way or another, Florida wasn't going to be upset in 2009, at least not yet...
Each team played sloppy at one point or another. I saw interceptions for both sides, and poor execution at critical times. It's clear both teams play in the SEC. They have their respective well known offensive weapons, and each play tough, opportunistic defense that makes plays of their own. I saw this when Tebow was picked off in the redzone, the ball being returned 99 yards for a touchdown, making a game that seemed as if it was about to become out of reach into a manageable game at your home stadium. Suddenly everything looked great again for Miss. State, and the full support of the crowd noise could only help. Was an upset in the works. I'll tell you, I had a great feeling before the game even started. It seemed like my gut would prove to be something I could trust.
Until the play. Miss. State quarterback came onto the field needing a score to stay with Florida. His teammates on the other side of the ball had kept the high powered Florida offense in check for the better part of the night, now it was time for him to charge up his spread and score. He takes the snap, gets the ball tipped up in the air, and I, and I'm sure every other Bulldog fan in the country had their heat stop. Then everything snapped back into reality as Dustin Doe snagged the ball out of the air. He runs towards the endzone, and begins a Deion Sanders esque high step. Whether he knew it or not, a Miss. State player was closing in.
The ball was hit, came out, and did not cross the plane in the control of Dustin Doe, its as simple as that. I watched the replay numerous times, along with the pieced together replay, which by the way the referee is allowed to use to come to the correct conclusion on a play. Doe didn't have the ball, and it was not a touchdown. The correct ruling would have been a touchback, giving the ball to Miss. State on the twenty yard line, with a new set of downs.
Now in no way am I criticizing the ruling on the field, which was a touchdown. That is a call in the heat of the moment, in a prime time SEC game. There is no real way the naked human eye could correctly diagnose a call that close; I completely understand that. What I am criticizing is the horrible call made by the booth on the call. There was absolutely conclusive evidence that would overturn that call had it been assessed correctly. I'm not saying that would have won the game for the Dawgs by any means, but I must say that could have kept all the momentum in the Bulldogs favor, despite the fact they briefly regained it later in the game, when it was too late.
Say what you will, but I have formed my opinion, Mississippi State got screwed.