I don't normally post about college football, but the hometown team was ranked No. 2 in the BCS rankings when it began play a few hours ago.
Rutgers played a solid game against the Bulls, using a very effective rushing attack to control the game. Big plays ruled the day, particularly on special teams, and one play in particular looms large in retrospect.
Late in the second quarter, the Bulls blocked a field goal attempt. Two Bulls players attempted to pick up the ball before a third South Florida player got control of it and carried it into the end zone. It looked to me at the time as though the first two players fumbled forward intentionally, which may be against the rules. On the field, however, the play was ruled a touchdown.
Now, in college football, the replay umpire can cut in at pretty much any time to review a call. The umpires reviewed it, and ruled that a USF player illegally batted the ball. But here's the thing: To my eye, at least, the video replay did not support the reversal of the call.
At normal speed, as I mentioned above, it really looked like the USF players were fumbling and bumbling deliberately toward the end zone. Once the play was slowed down, however, the first player to try to pick up the ball never gains control of it and seems to be trying to grab the ball with outstretched hands (fingers splayed) rather than batting it downfield. The second player had looked particularly guilty at normal speed. The replay, however, showed that he had the ball tucked under his left arm when a Rutgers player knocked the football loose (absolutely no evidence of any intent to fumble). The USF player brings in his other arm to try to collect the loose ball and ends up knocking it away.
It's the sort of thing that happens often with a fumble. Players think they'll grab the football and end up knocking it away. It happens when there is no good reason to bat the ball away.
I just don't see how the officials can justify overturning a call like that based on the video evidence. I could understand how one could use the video evidence to buttress a decision made based on the real-time perception of the play, however. I think it was a bad call.
As for the game, however, Rutgers played well enough to earn the win, and I offer my congratulations.