Big Ten explains officiating mistakes in Ohio State-Penn State game

The Big Ten further explained Sunday how it says a technical glitch allowed replay to uphold an Ohio State interception that clearly hit the ground. Also, the Big Ten said a breakdown in officiating mechanics allowed Ohio State to kick a field goal despite the play clock expiring.

Ohio State scored 10 points off two controversial calls in a 31-24 double-overtime victory over Penn State on Saturday.

In the first quarter, Buckeyes safety Vonn Bell was awarded an interception even though the ball hit the turf. Replay upheld the review because of what officials said was a lack of indisputable evidence to overturn. Ohio State scored a touchdown seven plays later after gaining possession at the Penn State 39-yard line.


After the game, referee John O’Neill told a pool reporter that the play was not thoroughly reviewed by replay official Tom Fiedler due to technical difficulties with the available feed.

On Sunday, the Big Ten said "the video feed to the replay booth was tested and confirmed on Friday and prior to the game on Saturday, but at the start of the game, the booth was no longer receiving all available feeds. The technician in the booth followed procedure by contacting the production truck, which immediately began working on the issue. Due to these technical difficulties, only one isolated shot from the overhead camera was available and the view did not provide sufficient information to reverse the call. As a result, the play stood as called. The production truck rectified the technical issues shortly thereafter, and the replay booth had access to multiple feeds for the remainder of the game.”

In another play, Ohio State kicked a 49-yard field to increase its lead to 17-0 in the second quarter despite the snap coming after the play clock expired. The Big Ten said in a statement "a breakdown in officiating mechanics occurred and the crew failed to properly monitor the play clock. There is flexibility for a slight delay between the play clock and the snap of the ball, but in this case, the timing far exceeded the tolerance for normal play clock procedures. The proper ruling should have been a five-yard penalty for delay of game."

Checking to see if the play clock reached zero before a snap is not a reviewable play.

“I’d love to come in here and tell you what I really think,” Penn State James Franklin said of the officiating in his post-game news conference. “But that wouldn’t be appropriate.”

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CBS Sports Senior Writer

Jon Solomon is CBS Sports's national college football writer. A former Alabama resident, he now lives in Maryland and also writes extensively on NCAA topics. Jon previously worked at The Birmingham News,... Full Bio

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