SEC officials have yet another questionable call to explain, this time in No. 23 Auburn’s 34-24 win over Georgia State on Saturday.
This week’s questionable ruling came late in the fourth quarter, with the Tigers (4-0) trailing the 1-3 Panthers 24-19. On first-and-10, quarterback TJ Finley appeared to connect with John Samuel Shenker on a 19-yard completion to the Georgia State 11 with 1:13 remaining.
Officials ruled it a catch on the field, but the call went to SEC headquarters in Birmingham, Ala., for an official review. There, officials should have seen the ball hit the turf, negating the play and making it second-and-10 for Auburn on the Georgia State 30.
Instead, officials confirmed the play as it was called on the field, giving Auburn a considerably easier distance to travel for the eventual game-winning touchdown. The Tigers got into the end zone on fourth-and-9 with 45 seconds remaining. Finley completed a pass to Shedrick Jackson for the latter’s first career touchdown, giving Auburn a 27-24 lead:
Georgia State had a chance to tie the game or take the lead with under a minute remaining, but Auburn’s Smoke Monday intercepted Darren Grainger and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown to make the score more presentable for the Tigers.
The questionable call comes at a particularly bad time for SEC officiating, which earned plenty of bad PR during the week after blowing calls in two Week 3 nonconference games. The first — and most egregious — was allowing a Memphis player to return a punt against Mississippi State after the play had been called dead. The Tigers went on to win 31-29.
Later in the day, the SEC crew calling Auburn at Penn State mistakenly removed a down, causing Penn State to punt on what was, in fact, third down. That mistake did not prove costly as the Nittany Lions went on to win 28-20. That was of little comfort to Penn State coach James Franklin, who could only say, “Thank God” when talking about how his team would have a Big Ten officiating crew in Week 4.