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Rules: Officials Get 4th-Quarter Missed Field-Goal Call Right as OSU Falls

Gil Imber@RefereeOrganistAnalyst IINovember 19, 2011

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 22:  Referee Ken Williamson during the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

En route to Iowa State's shocking double overtime defeat of No. 2 Oklahoma State, the OSU Cowboys missed a crucial field goal with only 1:21 left to play in a tied fourth quarter.

For OSU kicker Quinn Sharp and Cowboys fans everywhere, it was a controversial call that ended up allowing overtime and setting the stage for a dramatic loss in extra frames.

When play continued without so much as a review, it evoked memories of the infamous Toledo-Syracuse call that was incorrectly confirmed as a scored field goal.

Heading into play Friday night, college football's BCS standings featured LSU at the No. 1 spot with No. 2 Oklahoma State in hot pursuit. Until Oklahoma State's unexpected loss on Friday, LSU and OSU were the only two teams in the Top 10 with perfect 10-0 records.

With OSU's defeat at the hands of unranked Iowa State, sports fans and analysts alike are predicting that Oklahoma State's national title hopes are history.

That is precisely what made Friday night's late fourth-quarter field-goal call of "no good" such an important one.

But as painful and disagreeable as it may be for OSU, the on-field and replay officials both got the call right.

When Sharp kicked his high, tailing attempt, the ball appeared to pass directly over the uprights.

NCAA football rule 8-4-1-a specifies what constitutes a valid field goal:

"A field goal shall be scored for the kicking team if a drop kick or place kick passes over the crossbar between the uprights of the receiving team's goal before it touches a player of the kicking team or the ground."

Simple. A field goal is good if it passes over the crossbar and between the uprights.

But what if it passes over the uprights themselves?

Rule 8-4-1-b elaborates on how to treat peculiar situations in which a ball does the unexpected: "The crossbar and uprights are treated as a line."

In other words, extend a line straight up from the innermost point of each crossbar. The area between the line encompasses the space a ball must pass through for it to be considered good.

What does football have to say about an object touching or passing through a line? Visit rule 2-12 and you'll notice a common theme among all boundary lines: they are "out of bounds," with the key word "out."

Whereas the goal line is a planar boundary, 8-4-1-b explicitly states the crossbar and uprights are not to be considered a scoring plane.

Even with Sharp's kick sailing high above the uprights, the officials could correctly tell the attempt was wide.

As for the replay booth and its decision not to review the play, the officials also got this call correct. Per rule 12-3-b, "If the ball is higher than the top of the uprights as it crosses the end line, the play may not be reviewed."

Slam dunk.

In the end, OSU lost for many reasons. Playing with a heavy heart, the Cowboys could not overcome an awkward 3.3 yards per carry, five turnovers—including a costly OT interception—and a lopsided set of possession times: 35 minutes for Iowa State and under 25 minutes for OSU.

OSU was unable to seal the deal Friday night, but not because of a referee's bad call.

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