Central Michigan wide receiver Jesse Kroll tosses the ball back for a teammate on CMU's game-winning play. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)


For a second straight season, college football fans were captivated by a wild, game-winning play _ only to find out afterward it shouldn't have been allowed to happen.

Central Michigan's Hail Mary-and-lateral against Oklahoma State on Saturday came only after officials gave the Chippewas an untimed down following an intentional grounding call on OSU. The Cowboys were trying to run out the clock when Mason Rudolph threw the ball away on fourth down. The clock did run out, but officials awarded the change of possession to CMU and allowed one more play.

The Mid-American Conference said afterward its officiating crew shouldn't have extended the game. But it did, and then this happened:


Last year, Miami beat Duke on a lateral-filled kickoff return. A Miami player's knee appeared to be down during the play before he flipped the ball to a teammate, and the Atlantic Coast Conference later suspended the officiating crew.



What made both of these officiating mishaps so surprising was that each crew had some time to think things through. Calls get missed in a fast-paced sport, but the Central Michigan-Oklahoma State mistake occurred during a dead ball -- after the Cowboys were called for grounding. In a way, it was similar to Colorado's infamous fifth down against Missouri in 1990.

And in the Miami-Duke game, officials reviewed the play for nine minutes but didn't take away the touchdown.