Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 10/23/11
The officiating crew at the Michigan State-Wisconsin game Saturday night game was in a no-win situation. Knowing that, they put it all aside and did the right thing. I'll explain. By now, you've probably seen the replay of the game's last play a couple of hundred times. But let me set the scene for those who haven't: Score tied, Michigan State has the ball at the Wisconsin 44-yard line with only four seconds to play. Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins rolled out to his right and heaved a Hail Mary-pass towards the end zone, then probably said a prayer. The ball bounced off Michigan State receiver B.J. Cunningham's facemask right into the hands of teammate Keith Nichol to give the Spartans an improbable 37-31 victory over the previously unbeaten Badgers. Here's where it gets interesting. The officials on the field ruled that Nichol, who was battling two Wisconsin defenders to get into the end zone, was short of the goal line. But when it went up to the booth and replay official Tom Herbert, who I'm sure looked at many times, he made the decision to reverse the call and with it -- Michigan State was awarded a touchdown and the win. Judgment calls are made on the field and in the replay booth. Herbert made the right judgment call when he concluded that on the second surge toward the end zone, Nichol broke the plane for a touchdown. One of the keys is this: Nichol is a runner, and all it takes to be a touchdown is for the tip of the football to break the plane. On the second surge, you can see that the ball has clearly broken to plane. Tom Herbert knew what the magnitude of his decision would be, and he put it all aside to make the right call. Michigan State happy, Wisconsin not. Like I said, a no-win for the officials. But they did their job and they did it right.
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