Third-ranked Clemson University’s football team escaped Raleigh, N.C. with a 26-14 victory over the unranked N.C. State Wolfpack – but the Tigers (3-0, 1-0 ACC) needed a blown call from the Atlantic Coast Conference officiating crew to keep their national championship dreams alive.
With Clemson leading N.C. State 13-7 midway through the third quarter, Wolfpack wide receiver Bryan Underwood took a handoff from quarterback Pete Thomas and raced 83 yards down the right sideline for what should have been a go-ahead touchdown (pending the extra point).
But the ACC officials incorrectly ruled that Underwood had stepped out of bounds at the Clemson 47-yard-line – stripping him of the touchdown.
Here’s a video of the play, which shows Underwood’s run from multiple angles …
Yeah … that’s a touchdown, people.
So why didn’t the coaching staff at N.C. State (2-1, 0-1 ACC) challenge the call? They couldn’t. Out-of-bounds calls outside the five-yard-line are – per NCAA rules – not reviewable. Also the play had been blown dead.
“It was right in front of me,” N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren said after the game. “He didn’t go out of bounds. Unfortunately they blew it dead so they couldn’t review it. It’s an unfortunate deal. I know the guy felt bad about it. You can’t do anything about it. That’s just the way it is.”
Three plays later, N.C. State fumbled the football – and five plays after that Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd hit wide receiver Martavis Bryant for a 30-yard touchdown strike, turning what should have been a 14-13 Wolfpack lead turned into a 20-7 Clemson advantage.
Now … we’re not saying N.C. State is better than Clemson. And clearly Boyd and Bryant – as well as Tigers’ defensive lineman Vic Beasley (who forced the N.C. State fumble) – had a lot to do with the game-changing momentum shift.
But the Tigers caught a huge, undeserved break that materially contributed to their win … keeping them undefeated and in the thick of the national championship conversation.