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Georgia football won its second-straight College Football Playoff National Championship with a win over TCU after defeating Ohio State in the semifinal. However, the Bulldogs either trailed or tied the Buckeyes for the vast majority of the evening.
Ryan Day’s side dominated the first three quarters, particularly the middle two.
Ohio State and Georgia were knotted at seven at the end of the first quarter. And the Buckeyes started to pull away. They went up 28-24 at halftime and led by two scores at the end of the third quarter.
It appeared as though the reigning champs were set to be dethroned.
The momentum completely shifted at the end of the third quarter. Ohio State’s star receiver, Marvin Harrison Jr., was knocked out of the contest with a concussion and did not return.
He was hit by Bulldogs defensive back Javon Bullard in the back of the end zone and went limp. The lick immediately came into question. Was it targeting?
Most people watching in the stands and at home (outside of those rooting for the Bulldogs) would agree that a flag was warranted. A targeting penalty was called on impact, but it was later ruled that targeting did not occur and the call was overturned. Nothing else was called.
Although Harrison would not have been able to return either way, a penalty likely would have changed the entire game. It may have caused the final result to swing in the other direction.
Ohio State was screwed.
Harrison’s concussion took him out of the game. He had five catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns up until that point.
After his exit, the Buckeyes offense scored just three points. His presence on the field might have changed how the offense was able to operate in the fourth quarter.
I think it came down to a couple plays… towards the end of the game. Unfortunately I wasn’t there to play in that fourth quarter. I think I could’ve helped my team out down the stretch, but yeah I think, you know, a couple plays away from having a totally different story this year.— Marvin Harrison Jr. at Big Ten Media Days
Putting his absence aside, the targeting penalty would have won the game. On paper, at least.
Had it been called targeting, Ohio State would have gained 15 yards and received a fresh set of downs inside of the 5-yard-line. Presumably, it would have resulted in a touchdown.
Instead, the Buckeyes were forced to kick a field goal.
They ultimately lost by one point. A touchdown on that drive would have propelled them to the Championship. Brutal.
Big Ten officials disagree with the no-call.
While speaking at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis, Big Ten officiating supervisor Bill Carollo called out the Pac-12 crew at the Peach Bowl. In his eyes, they bungled the call.
I’m not here to hash through the problems. But when you have a play like that and most people think it should have been a personal foul, they didn’t call that. They didn’t execute that well on it. They should have had a personal foul with targeting […]
It was a major call in the game. If you call it, you have to have indisputable video evidence. It was a gray area. They flipped it. That’s what they felt and that’s what they thought. I know a lot of people at Ohio State and fans across the country might have a different opinion of that.— Bill Carollo
As for how Carollo and his team plan to operate moving forward, nothing is going to change. Had he and his crew been in charge of officiating at the Peach Bowl, something would have been called.
… I think for the most part we were calling that probably a foul most of the time throughout the year and the last few years. This one, they flipped it in their opinion. It’s always in the eye of the beholder as far as what they think it is.— Bill Carollo
If not targeting, a personal foul would have allotted Ohio State a first down inside the 5.
Personal foul with targeting. Let’s say, for whatever reason, they took off the targeting and they did, then at least you still have 15 yards and a first down on the play. It ends up with the same result, except the (Georgia player) could stay in the game.— Bill Carollo
Carollo was not comfortable with the overturned call.
The Big Ten’s officiating chief believes that Georgia got away with one.
Bummer for the Buckeyes. The past is in the past, but that call changed a lot of things in the Peach Bowl — and in college football as a whole.
To make matters worse, Ohio State likely would have had no issue taking care of business against TCU. Oh well. Onto the next one.