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Pylon-Gate Hands Michigan a Score

Oct 25, 2008 – 5:53 PM
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Chris Burke

Chris Burke %BloggerTitle%

Brandon MinorI've seen a lot of football in my lifetime. I have never seen a play like the one in the first quarter of the Michigan/Michigan State game. Ultimately, it did not matter all that much in a 35-21 Spartans win, but it will still garner some discussion for the next few days, I'm sure.

Michigan had a 3rd-and-long at Michigan State's 19. Wolverines quarterback Steven Threet tossed one to running back Brandon Minor near the front left corner of the end zone where, it appeared, Minor caught the ball well out of bounds. The officials called for a replay -- apparently just to double check what had been called on the field -- but the replay seemed to confirm the call.

Or did it?

After the review, the referee signals a touchdown, citing that because Minor caught the ball while his foot was touching the front pylon - regardless of the fact that he landed at least a foot out of bounds - it was a touchdown.

Judging by MSU coach Mark Dantonio's subsequent screaming at the refs, he did not agree. Judging by the rule that ESPN cited soon after, he may have had a point. Rule 4.2 in the NCAA rule book online:
Player Out of Bounds
ARTICLE 1. a. A player or an airborne player is out of bounds when any
part of his person touches anything, other than another player or game
official, on or outside a boundary line (A.R. 4-2-1-I and II).

b. A player or an airborne player who touches a pylon is out of bounds.
That rule book sentence from part b seems to be a direct contradiction to how the replay official explained the call via ESPN. So either this isn't the exact rule that they cited, there's some variation they hit on ... or they flat out blew the replay call.

Remember, this is from the same rivalry that produced the Desmond Howard Trip to end MSU's 1990 win and the brutal clock controversy in 2001. Both of those calls went Michigan State's way.

Looks like Michigan may have gotten one back today - except, unlike that other pair of questionable calls, it didn't lead to a win.
Filed under: Sports