Ohio State survived its first test of the year with a 45-31 victory over Minnesota at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Thursday.
Regardless of who won the game, however, one thing is certain: No one was happy with Big Ten officials by the end of the contest. They made rough calls all game, with the most notable example coming in the fourth quarter. Minnesota was attempting to overcome a 14-point Buckeyes lead with roughly four minutes remaining when Golden Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan threw a 20-yard strike to Mike Brown-Stephens, who then took a hit from Ohio State defensive back Lathan Ransom.
The tackle — aimed at Brown-Stephens’ head and neck area — not only lodged the ball loose, but also left the receiver down on the turf, seemingly concussed from the collision with Ransom. Officials called Brown-Stephens down by contact, then reviewed the play while trainers tended to the downed receiver. When they came back from review, they revealed they weren’t reviewing the play for targeting, but whether Brown-Stephens fumbled. They ruled he had, giving Ohio State the ball on a recovery and ending any chance Minnesota had of a comeback.
The play in question, from two angles:
It seems as if officials missed a fairly obvious targeting call, which was only made worse by the fact they reviewed the play to determine whether Brown-Stephens fumbled.
That wasn’t the only unpopular ruling Thursday. Officials reversed a targeting call against Ohio State linebacker Teradja Mitchell in the first quarter but later called a questionable roughing the passer penalty against the Buckeyes’ Dallas Gant. Regardless, Twitter was incredulous at the officials following their ruling on the Brown-Stephens play:
No one knows what targeting is. You think you do. But you can never fully grasp it. It’s the twilight zone of college football.
— Big J Pablo (@PabloEscobarner) September 3, 2021
How was that not ruled targeting on replay?
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) September 3, 2021
Targeting rule has been removed for 2021.
— Brandon Walker (@BWalkerSEC) September 3, 2021
How in the world was that not targeting? Unbelievable!
— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) September 3, 2021
That’s…. an interesting sequence of events.
Defenseless receiver gets knocked out. They review for targeting. End up calling it a fumble?
Nice work, football.
— Chris Long (@ChrisLongKSTP) September 3, 2021