MAC suspends officiating crew after blunder in Central Michigan-Oklahoma State game

Oklahoma State linebacker Chad Whitener sits alone in the Central Michigan end zone while the Central Michigan team celebrates a last second touchdown by wide receiver Corey Willis, resulting in a 30-27 win. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
Oklahoma State linebacker Chad Whitener sits alone in the Central Michigan end zone while the Central Michigan team celebrates a last second touchdown by wide receiver Corey Willis, resulting in a 30-27 win. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)

Central Michigan upset Oklahoma State Saturday on a miraculous Hail Mary play — one that should have never occurred.

An officiating error following an intentional grounding penalty allowed for an untimed down, ultimately costing the Cowboys a win. A day later, administrators from both conferences have handed out penalties to those involved. First, the Mid-American Conference announced a two-game suspension for the eight-man referee crew that called the game. Additionally the Big 12 announced that its instant replay crew, which oversaw the game, has been suspended for two games as well.

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“After a thorough review and evaluation of the entire Central Michigan at Oklahoma State contest, we have decided to suspend the officiating crew for the next two consecutive weeks. I have personally informed the crew of our decision,” said Bill Carollo, Coordinator of Football Officials, Collegiate Officiating Consortium.

Added Big 12 football coordinator of officials Walt Anderson: “The crew missed an opportunity to advise the MAC officiating crew of the misapplication of the penalty giving CMU an untimed down that resulted in its game-winning touchdown. NCAA rules permit instant replay to correct egregious errors and it is unacceptable that it did not occur in this situation.”

The Big 12 also said the replay crew “will not be eligible for assignment to an end-of-season bowl game.”

The blunder occurred as Oklahoma State, which led 27-24, was trying to run the clock out on a fourth down play with four seconds left. OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph simply threw the ball out of bounds to let the final seconds expire, but the pass was nowhere near any receivers and Rudolph was still inside the pocket.

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Rudolph was flagged for intentional grounding, but CMU was mistakenly awarded an untimed down. Our Nick Bromberg broke it down on Saturday:

The NCAA rule book states that a period is extended if a penalty is accepted for a live ball foul but “the period is not extended if the foul is by the team in possession and the statement of the penalty includes loss of down.” The sentence in quotes applies perfectly to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys had the ball and committed a foul (intentional grounding) that includes a loss of down.

And on the play that should have never happened, CMU’s Cooper Rush threw a deep ball to Jesse Kroll, who lateraled it to Corey Willis. Willis then raced the rest of the way into the end zone.

Oklahoma State, which was a 17.5-point favorite in the game, dropped to 1-1 and out of the Top 25 with the loss. CMU improved to 2-0 with the win.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!