Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin seemed to have every right to be angry after a controversial call cost his team dearly on Saturday.
The Rebels held a 28-27 lead over the Auburn Tigers with just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter. After Ole Miss’ go-ahead score, Auburn return man Shaun Shivers appeared to clearly touch the ensuing kickoff as it bounced past him. Despite this, the play was ruled a touchback. That meant Auburn kept the ball, and ultimately rallied for a 35-28 win.
Head referee Marc Curles said the Auburn returner didn’t touch the ball.
It’s close. pic.twitter.com/eLEmo3uoOq
— Brad Logan (@BradLoganCOTE) October 24, 2020
Not only does Shivers’ finger appear to move on contact, but the trajectory of the football changes slightly as well.
Had Shivers been ruled to have touched the ball, the play would have resulted in an Ole Miss touchdown. What’s more, the referees did not even review the play. That, in particular, angered Kiffin, as he said on Ole Miss Radio Network postgame, via John Brice of Football Scoop, regarding the reason for no review:
“I don’t know. These guys stop everything in the world. We have 100 stops throughout the game. They stop every scoring play. That’s really a scoring play, potentially.
“I don’t know why. I asked why on a critical play like that would you not stop. And they said, ‘Well, someone looked at it upstairs and said he didn’t touch it.’ It looked like from our vantage point he did touch it.”
Kiffin is right on all counts. The correct call likely would have changed the game. The referees should have at least checked.
Auburn, meanwhile, caught another break, and it’s fair to say the Tigers are living right so far this season as far as officiating goes.