By TOM LEA
CORVALLIS, Ore. - It's worth nothing now, simply because Wisconsin and Oregon State have parted their separate ways after a dismal and unprecedented offensive performance from the Badgers.
But that doesn't mean the team that failed to convert 12 of its 14 third down chances, mustered just 64 yards of total offense in the opening half before scoring just seven points against Oregon State didn't deserve it's final shot to rally for a game-tying field goal or game-winning touchdown drive.
The refs simply booted the call.
Standing on the sideline, just about 25 yards from Kyle French, I was extremely confident that I saw an Oregon State player touch the ball prior to French falling on it. From my angle I had no idea if the ball had traveled 10 yards or not, but I was very confident the ball had trickled off an OSU player before bouncing back in French's direction, essentially rendering the 10-yard rule irrelevant.
The stadium replay booth did not show the play during the five-minute conference so I didn't get a second look at what seemed to be Wisconsin's ticket to pulling a win out of its bag of tricks.
But having seen plenty of replays since, I'm not sure how the officials found enough indisputable evidence that French absolutely touched the ball before it went 10 yards, enough to overturn what they originally deemed Wisconsin's ball.
It looked pretty clear from my 1998-style box TV in my hotel room and on my computer screen that the football was going one way before taking a turn the exact opposite way, even from the more difficult and blinded side angle. You could still see the ball change direction.
Unless we're dealing with the football equivalent of the magic bullet theory, that probably means an Oregon State player hit it.
It should have been Wisconsin ball with approximately a minute and a half to play.
But that's not how it went. Wisconsin lost and probably deservedly so, especially considering the way the offense struggled throughout the majority of the contest.
There's no guarantee Danny O'Brien and company would have even been able to move the ball in that situation. But they should have gotten their chance.
I would have liked to seen the film the official watched that conclusively and comprehensively proved French touched it first, before it went 10 yards. I haven't seen it yet.
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