Instant Analysis: Oklahoma-Oregon

Staff Columnist
Posted Sep 16, 2006

Memo to the people of the fine state of Oklahoma: don't riot or do anything destructive tonight... even though you'd be justified to feel like doing something violent. After all, this game was violently taken away from a deserving bunch of Sooners by inept officiating and even more inept replay evaluators.

Yes, it's very rare for analysis of a football game to so frontally, emotionally and nakedly talk about the officiating; this is a very rare practice, precisely because it seems like bad form on the part of the writer. An article about lousy officiating is almost never written because fans can easily interpret such an article as a sign of bias--entrenched and unprofessional--on the part of the author.

But in the wake of Saturday's game in Eugene--won by Oklahoma in every true sense, but not on the official scoreboard--normal practices have to give way to a rare approach. After all, what happened in the final minutes of this game was anything but normal.

There's no way to sugar-coat it or talk around it, and there's no need to be indirect in speaking about it: plainly put, the Pac-10 officiating crew made an incorrect ruling on Oregon's recovery of an onsides kick in the final 75 seconds. However, that is supposed to be acceptable in this day and age, because if the zebras mess up, the replay review system is supposed to set things right. And when all of America saw the replay of that onsides kick, the country's football fans saw that an Oregon player touched the ball after it had traveled 9.5 yards. Not 10, but nine and a half. That much was obvious.

Not to the replay official, though, for reasons that boggle the human mind. Oregon--a dead team--was given the football equivalent of several organ transplants... unethically. Oklahoma--who had earned a tough road victory with a surprisingly mature effort from Paul Thompson and an overwhelmingly physical second half--was given the football equivalent of hidden poison delivered by a friend, lover, or anyone else you'd expect to treat you with kindness and decency.

When this kind of an outrage occurs, the rest of the proceedings are rendered irrelevant. Sad, because a lot of players spilled their guts in Eugene. Adrian Peterson was a man among boys. OU's defense picked itself off the deck after being stunned in the game's opening minutes. Dennis Dixon overcame flop sweat to regather himself for the game's frantic finish, but it's a finish he--and Oregon--didn't deserve to have.

Oklahoma made a big statement with its performance on Saturday; with this level of football, the Sooners can compete with Texas and the rest of the Big XII. But sadly, Bob Stoops and his players were robbed of a celebration they deserved to have. Such is the awful reality of this game, and its astonishing, ugly... and tainted... outcome.

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