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Mike Pereira analyzes the big calls

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Mike Pereira

Mike Pereira was the NFL's Vice President of Officiating from 2004-09, having spent the five seasons previous to that as the league's Director of Officiating. He also served as an NFL game official when he acted as a side judge for two seasons (1997-98). Follow him on Twitter.

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Time waits for nobody — that is unless you have more than one clock.

Arizona State scored a touchdown on a controversial play against Notre Dame near the end of the second quarter that had many fans upset Saturday night.

But they shouldn't have been.

Here was the situation: Arizona State had the ball, fourth down and four at the Notre Dame 36-yard line with 1:36 left in the second quarter. Notre Dame had the lead 7-6.

ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly completed a 36-yard touchdown pass to Jaelen Strong, but NBC had two play clocks on the screen, their own and the one from the scoreboard.

When the center first moved the ball to start the snap — and that's all that's required -- the scoreboard clock showed one second left and NBC's had zero, which caused Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly to throw a fit. Not that Kelly could see the TV screen; he was upset because he thought there should have been a delay of game penalty called on ASU.

However, if you watch the replay, you can clearly see the stadium clock has not turned to zero when the center starts his snap. There's always an inherent, slight delay, because the official has to look at the clock turn to zero and then look at the ball. But in this case, the snap had started before the clock turned to zero.

Why NBC would put two play clocks on the screen is beyond me. Clocks are supposed to be synced to the scoreboard, but obviously there was a half-second difference between the two. And that half-second was the difference in this being a legal play and a delay of game.

So it's time for Notre Dame and its fans to stop complaining.


It's the most dangerous play in football, college or NFL.

No, not the helmet-to-helmet hits we are hearing so much about these days. Not targeting or personal foul calls associated with unnecessary roughness.

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It's the kickoff.

That's right. Both the NCAA and NFL recognized that collisions on kickoffs were the most dangerous to its players, and both adopted a new rule in 2012 that moved the kickoff up from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line to increase touchbacks.

Case in point: Saturday afternoon in Berkeley during the game between Washington State and Cal.

Here was the situation: Washington State was leading 21-15 at the start of the third quarter and was set to receive the second-half kick. Cal's Vincenzo D'Amato kicked off 65 yards into the end zone for a touchback.

However, during the kick, Golden Bears defensive back Joel Willis was injured after being blocked by Washington State's Freddie Davey near the 20-yard line. Willis had to be carted off the field.

According the cfbstats.com, the new rule change resulted in far more touchbacks last season. Prior to the rule change, 15.2 percent of kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Last season, touchbacks increased to 34.8 percent.

The fact that Willis was hurt on a touchback only emphasizes even more how dangerous kickoffs are.


I've been doing this for a long time — longer than the kids in the Kansas State-Oklahoma State game have been alive -- and I saw something Saturday I've never seen before.

See if you can follow me on this one.

There were 50 seconds left in the first half, and Oklahoma State had just scored a touchdown to take a 17-14 lead. The Cowboys' Kip Smith kicked the ball 40-yards, and it was caught by Laton Dowling.

That was the first problem. Dowling's a 6-foot-3, 245-pound defensive end and probably hasn't been in this position much before. So Downling tries to throw the ball forward to John Hubert. The ball hit the ground and it was recovered by Oklahoma State.

However, the Wildcats retained possession and were penalized five yards for an illegal forward pass.

Still with me?

By virtue of it being a forward pass, the ball is dead when it hits the ground and the kicking team can't recover. It was an illegal forward pass after a change of possession and, by rule, a five-yard penalty at the spot of the pass and the receiving team retains possession.

Confusing, but it was well officiated by the Big 12 crew, which handled it perfectly.


Where would we be without replay?

The sixth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs are probably woofing all the way back to Athens after Saturday's hold-on-for-dear-life, 34-31 overtime win over Tennessee in Knoxville.

With the chance to take the lead in overtime, Tennessee had a touchdown taken away by replay and turned into a touchback. Four plays later, Georgia followed up with the winning field goal.

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Where would we be without replay?

Here was the situation: Tennessee had the ball, second down and goal from the Georgia 7-yard line with the score tied at 31. Wide receiver Alton Howard took the ball on an end around and as he got close to the end zone, he dove for the goal line. The ball came loose as Howard crossed the goal line and the ball rolled through the back of the end zone.

It was ruled a touchdown on the field. However, in replay, you could clearly see Howard's right hand come off the ball as he was crossing the goal line and he couldn't maintain it with his left hand. By rule, that's a fumble and since the ball rolled through the back of the end zone, a touchback.

Twenty years ago, a touchdown would have been ruled on this play and nobody would have said anything. But nowadays, with all of the cameras and the capabilities to run video in slow motion, frame-by-frame, technology makes the difference in who wins and loses.

Where would we be without replay?

Replay has come along ways since it was first debuted on TV. It's been nearly 50 years since CBS used instant replay for the first time during the Army-Navy game on Dec. 7, 1963.

The fact is, people expect officials to be right 100 percent of the time, but the game is so fast that it can't be done.

Where would we be without replay?

Georgia, for one, doesn't want to know.

Tagged: Buffalo, Arizona State, California, Washington, Washington State, Tennessee, Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Brian Kelly, Taylor Kelly, Joel Willis

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