Earlier this week, Dean Straka of 247Sports released a list of the 10 “most controversial” college football games since 2000. And, as you might expect, Ohio State‘s battle with Clemson in the 2019 College Football Playoff made the list.
If you recall, the Buckeyes stormed out of the gate. They tacked on a field goal at the end of their opening drive, scored on a 68-yard run by J.K. Dobbins just minutes later and tacked on two more field goals in the second quarter to take a commanding 16-0 lead with seven minutes to go until halftime. Disaster then ensued.
Ohio State star defensive back Shaun Wade obliterated Trevor Lawrence on a blitz. Wade was called for targeting, though, and was ejected from the game. That appeared to light a spark for the Tigers – and obviously impacted the Buckeyes defense. Clemson went on to score two touchdowns in a span of just a few minutes to close the gap and make it a 16-14 score at the half. Somehow, Wade’s ejection wasn’t even the most controversial play of the game.
Trailing 21-16 late in the third, the Buckeyes needed to make a play on defense. It appeared they did when Jordan Fuller scooped up a Justyn Ross fumble and returned it for a touchdown. The booth reviewed the play, though, and proceeded to determine Ross didn’t fumble the ball because the pass was incomplete. Replay review showed Ross had control of the ball and took several steps, though. It’s one of the more controversial calls of the past few decades.
“Trailing Clemson 21-16 after once leading the contest 16-0, Ohio State momentarily regained the lead when Fuller recovered and scored a touchdown on what was initially ruled a catch and fumble by Tigers wide receiver Justyn Ross,” Straka wrote via 247Sports.
“Officials, however, determined that Ross never had full control of the ball after reviewing the play, erasing a momentum-changing sequence.”
Despite the controversial call, the Buckeyes still had an opportunity to win the game.
Trailing 29-23 with just over 30 seconds remaining, Justin Fields and the Buckeyes found themselves at the Clemson 23-yard line. Fields wound up throwing an interception, though, costing Ohio State the game in the process.
The 2019 College Football Playoff battle is one of the best games in the playoff era. Unfortunately, it’s overshadowed by several controversial sequences, all of which appeared to favor Clemson.