What is Targeting? What is a Fumble?

I’m not necessarily a die-hard Ohio State fan. One could say I’m more of a neutral voice in this matter compared to say a Browns game or something to do with Cleveland sports. However, in the Ohio State vs. Clemson game, I felt there were two extremely egregious calls against the Buckeyes that certainly helped the Tigers win one of the biggest games of the year in the Play Station Fiesta Bowl.

Ohio State was up 16-0 with just under five minutes to go in the half when defensive back Shaun Wade got ejected for “targeting” on a crucial 3rd down sack. 

First of all, I think the rule of targeting is stupid, in general. Elites on Twitter like to brag, “Oh, that was textbook targeting. I’m so smart – I can look up the rules to college football and read.” Anyway, I feel like football is a dangerous game and sort of is what it is. The players know the risks and trying to make it “safer” is not what the game needs. Don’t play if the risks are too much…

Anyway, let’s talk about this specific play.

Wade is running full-speed to try and tackle the quarterback that looks like a girl, Trevor Lawrence. He reaches him and it looks like Lawrence ducks down and this is why the helmets connect. Additionally, Wade wraps his arms around the quarterback to make what is a legal hit for the sack.

Thus, it was by no means a cheap shot. It wasn’t a play where it was obvious that the guilty player was trying to hurt or injure the “victim.” Instead of Clemson having to punt again, they got the first down and that led to a touchdown. It ended up being 16-14 Buckeyes at the half and it could have been 16-0 or even more had that horrible targeting call not been made. Finally, no one knows what plays Wade would have made had he not gotten tossed.

The next play to analyze is the Clemson catch-and-fumble that was originally returned for a touchdown. It got reviewed and was called incomplete. This play would have given the Buckeyes the lead and completely changed the entire dynamic of the second half.

What I see is the ball is caught instantly. Then, there are three steps with possession of the football. On the fourth step, Jeffery Okudah sticks his hand in and knocks the ball out. It is then recovered and ran back for the aforementioned touchdown.

What is a “football move.” Does a receiver have to do the entire Cha-Cha Slide for the catch to count? Had it been a catch with two steps and then the third step was out-of-bounds, that would have stood as a catch. Why didn’t this play stand?

I don’t like blaming things in sports on the refs. Yes, Ohio State did still make a plethora of mistakes and that was also a big reason why the team lost. However, to not take a good look at the officiating and admit that it was awful is disingenuous.

Finally, there is no way to know for sure the outcome of the game had those two calls stood. Clemson would have had to punt without targeting and Ohio State would have had a touchdown if the fumble stood. Everything else would have been decided on the field. Simply put, it felt as if the refs had a certain bias against the Buckeyes and that led to those horrific calls.

When a game is set-and-done, it is a shame when fans are talking more about the calls made by the officials than the actual performances by the players. That’s what happened in Ohio State vs. Clemson and it’s a damn shame.

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