It is unfortunate that Ohio State was robbed, but we could have locked our doors. Swap a few touchdowns for field goals and we have the insurance and security to absorb a few bad calls. You would be hard pressed to find disagreement among Buckeyes that it was disheartening and critical that they failed to convert their three red zone trips into touchdowns instead of FGs. It was inexcusable from the Ohio State offense and some credit must be given to Clemson’s defense, but put 21 on the board instead of 9 and we’re having a different discussion this morning.
However, reason 1b to that 1a is the officiating. No matter what way this cake is sliced, Ohio State gets the lesser of it. It is absolutely inexcusable that a targeting penalty, of which a completely unblocked blitzer makes a sack, gives Clemson a second chance on life. This team was buried and the final nail being placed into the coffin before a zebra striped official screamed, "Wait!" No college fan is happy with the enforcement of targeting, but what makes it egregious is the officials slow down the play to proceed at slow motion to determine if Wade made contact with Lawrence’s helmet by leading with his own. After slowing the play down, it appears Wade aims to hit Lawrence in the chest and it is Lawrence who begins to tuck his head to shield his body and forces the illegal contact. This call breathed new life into Clemson and escorted them down the field for their first score.
The second penalty is so disingenuous because of the reasoning and method used to enforce the first. There was no flag thrown for targeting because by all accounts it was simply an excellent, clean sack, but wait!, we must examine this on instant replay. The no catch call that stole six points and invaluable momentum from Ohio State was a catch. No matter what group of college football viewers (aside from referees) watched this play, the conclusion would always be it was a catch then fumble. The official hired by ESPN tells Kirk Herbstreet during the dialogue that you can’t examine this play in slow motion because it appears to be a catch but when you watch it in live speed it is not. Umm...what?! So clear control of the ball and three steps is only a catch if he goes slow enough? Or how come we don’t view targeting in the same lens and ban the use of replay to create a targeting penalty out of nothing?
These questions need to be answered. The overlords who determine the rules for football and officiating community for the NCAA and NFL need to provide answers. It is outrageous that these penalties and no calls clearly influenced the outcome of this game. Until then, the 2018 New Orleans Saints should open up a seat at the bar and welcome the 2019 Buckeyes with open arms. After all, misery loves company.