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Did the Refs Cost Stanford a Pac-12 Championship?

One questionable call gifted USC the game...

National University Holiday Bowl - Nebraska v USC Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

USC defeated Stanford, 31-28, after benefiting from a questionable call from the referees.

With eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Stanford lined up for a fourth-down goal line push from the 1 yard line. The ball was handed to Cameron Scarlett, and Scarlett was ruled down, just short of the end zone.

But was he really down? Watch the shot below (via Dr. Saturday); it’s pretty clear that Scarlett fell on top of FB Daniel Marx and OG Brandon Fanaika. At no point did Scarlett touch the ground, and at no point should he have been ruled down:

Here’s an up-close, still shot (also via Dr. Saturday); the shot below makes it even clearer that Scarlett never touched the ground, and should not have been ruled down:

Nonetheless, the refs whistled Scarlett down, and instead of Stanford adding another seven points to its score, Stanford lost the game 31-28.

This was not the first time referees whistled down a goal line push even though a Stanford player never touched the ground. Against Notre Dame in 2012, a similar call from referees on a push by Stepfan Taylor likely cost Stanford an appearance in the National Championship Game.