Oklahoma State's wide receivers dropped a number of passes in Saturday's 33-24 loss to Oklahoma. The most infamous "drop," however, came from the defense.
With Oklahoma down four points and driving in the final minutes of the game, Sooners quarterback Blake Bell threw a pass intended for wide receiver Lacoltan Bester. Playing in single coverage, Bester and Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert both jumped for the ball.
Gilbert came down with it, but then the officials blew the play dead. The pass was ruled incomplete—not an interception—and Oklahoma still had life.
It looked like a pick. Gilbert plucked the ball out of the air and secured it into his body on the way down. However, the ball popped loose once he bounced off Bester and hit the ground. Here's a GIF of the play, via Bleacher Report:
Oklahoma scored the game-winning touchdown a few plays later: a seven-yard pass from Bell to receiver Jalen Saunders.
As ESPN's Travis Haney notes, that score makes the Gilbert "drop" even more controversial:
Officials had better hope Oklahoma State gets a stop, or this will be a thing.— Travis Haney (@TravHaneyESPN) December 7, 2013
It was a bang-bang play and certainly worthy of another look. However, Oklahoma—wisely, mind you—hurried to the line of scrimmage and ran another play before the incomplete pass could be reviewed further.
Should the officials in the replay booth have made the call down to the field earlier? Sure, and officiating had been a sore spot most of the game for both sides.
But Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said himself after the game that he didn't challenge the play because he didn't think he would win:
Mike Gundy said he didn't challenge Gilbert's almost INT, because he didn't think he would win it.— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) December 7, 2013
Additionally, Dave Cutaia, better known on Twitter as ESPN's football rules expert, says that Gilbert did not look like he had clear possession:
@JohnBlairV Looked like correct call, when defender came dwn landed on reciever then hit the ground lost control of ball, no clear posession— Dave Cutaia (@CFBRulesExpert) December 7, 2013
Like most close judgement calls, it's tough to determine what's right and wrong.
Funnily enough, Oklahoma ended up on the wrong end of two official reviews earlier in the game for ball spots. On both occasions, it appeared the Sooners had a first down, but they were marked short. Upon further review for both plays, the calls stood and Oklahoma faced fourth downs.
What you can definitively say, though, is that one play doesn't cost a team a win. Rather, there are dozens of moments that Oklahoma State can look back on and wish that they had turned out differently.
For as great as Oklahoma State played on defense, on Saturday and all year, to give up a game-winning drive has to be crushing. Likewise, the Cowboys offense came up short on two big moments. The first was a Desmond Roland touchdown run on the first play of the game that was called back for holding. The other was a goal-line stand by Oklahoma's defense.
The Bedlam game was not won or lost on that one play between Bester and Gilbert. That's not to downplay the significance of that play, though. With a Fiesta Bowl berth on the line, it's easy to see why it's been magnified.