The touchback call in the first quarter of the Louisville-Oregon State football game may have been correct according to the rules but it is inconsistent with the NCAA’s other fumble guidelines.
Louisville appeared to score a TD as quarterback Adam Froman scrambled 13 yards to the end zone. But after further review, a video replay showed Oregon State’s Suaesi Tuimaunei punched the ball out of Froman’s hands one yard short of the goal line and the ball went out of bounds.
Here’s what the NCAA rulebook says:
Ball carrier A1, advancing toward Team B’s goal line, fumbles when B1 bats the ball from his hand or tackles him from the rear. In either case, A1 loses possession short of the goal line, and the ball goes into Team B’s end zone, where Team B recovers.Â RULING: Touchback. Impetus is charged to the fumble by Team A (Rule 8-6-1-a).
In this case, the ball went through the end zone and out of bounds.Â So why is losing the ball at the goal line treated differently from fumbling the ball out of bounds?Â The play occurred on a third down, and Louisville would have had one more opportunity.
A similar situation occurred a week earlier when Josh Chichester fumbled at the two yard line and the ball rolled out of bounds on the sideline. However, Louisville got the ball back and scored on the next play. Were we just lucky Chichester’s bobble didn’t roll into the end zone?
The logic of the rule makes sense only if your team is affected positively by the inconsistency.