Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 10/13/12
Was there a Cardinal sin committed in South Bend on Saturday? Maybe two. No. 7 Notre Dame beat No. 17 Stanford, 20-13, in overtime. But in my opinion, the Irish had the benefit of two controversial calls that not only helped the Irish tie the game to force overtime, but also prevented the Cardinal from scoring the game-tying touchdown in overtime. Let's start with the the last play of the game. Here was the situation: Stanford had the ball, fourth-and-goal from the Notre Dame 1-yard line in overtime, with the Irish leading 20-13. Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor appeared to be stopped at the goal line, but on second effort, turned and fell into the end zone. The ruling on the field was that Taylor was stopped short and after a review, the call stood. I've looked at the play from every angle and I think the call should have been reversed to a touchdown. It would certainly appear that forward progress was not ruled and Taylor was not down. The ball broke the plane before it came loose, which makes that aspect of it irrelevant. Also irrelevant is when the whistle was blown, because just like when a runner is ruled down and it turns out to be a fumble, the play is reviewed all the way through to the end result. The first thing that needs to be established is whether or not the ball broke the plane of the goal line. That seemed pretty easy to see. The ball did come loose, but had already broken the plane. The officials then needed to determine if Taylor was down. This was one of those plays that you had to look at from every angle. The closest part of Taylor's body to the ground was his left elbow, but it seemed pretty apparent to me that by piecing the different shots together that the elbow did not touch the ground until after the ball had crossed the plane. The shot that convinces me is the field-level shot from inside, not the shot from the outside that is down the goal line. Taylor extends the ball beyond the plane before the elbow is down. One thing you may not know: In college, the review decision is made totally by the replay official upstairs in the booth, not the officials down on the field. The second play came on Notre Dame's game-tying drive. Here was the situation: Notre Dame had the ball, first-and-16 at the Notre Dame 47-yard line with 3:38 left in the fourth quarter and Stanford led 13-10. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson carried the ball four yards, but as he was being tackled and going to the ground, he was hit in the helmet area by Stanford's Usua Amanam. Stanford was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness. Of course, I have the luxury of watching it in slow motion, but to me, this shouldn't have been called a foul. Golson was being tackled and was almost to the ground when hit by Amanam with his upper arm, not his shoulder or helmet. Golson was a runner at this point and he should not have been deemed defenseless unless, as the rule states, he was already on the ground. He was not down when the contact occurred. Officials are told to err on the side of safety and I think that was the case here. But it's a big call at a big point in the game. I can see why the official made the call, because it looked a lot uglier in real time. But it's a call that I think should not have been made. Stanford certainly had no luck on these two calls. All of that went to the Irish.
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