Penn State vs. Nebraska 2012: Do referees have bias against Nittany Lions?

Eric Francis

A controversial call was a big reason Penn State lost to Nebraska on Saturday, and the SB Nation blog Black Shoe Diaries is trying to figure out how the call was made.

The Penn St. Nittany Lions lost to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 32-23, Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The loss was highlighted by a controversial fumble call that went against Penn State midway through the fourth quarter.

The play, or apparent non-touchdown, cost the Nittany Lions a possible 30-27 lead, and has been the focus of the SB Nation blog Black Shoe Diaries.

The reason the NCAA has instituted replay reviews, and why the NFL has joined them in that regard, is to ensure that horrendously bad calls like that don't prevent teams from winning, so that the balance of the game doesn't rest in the whims of the referees. I won't blame the officials on the field for getting the call on Matt Lehman's touchdown catch wrong. It was a bang-bang play, one that easily could've gone either way, and live on TV, it looked like a fumble, too.

The Cornhuskers cemented their victory with a safety on Penn State quartberack Matthew McGloin, who was called for a penalty in his own end zone on the next possession, and a 32-yard field goal with 23 second remaining, which capped the scoring.

However, the last few scores of the game didn't matter. After the fumble call, the Nittany Lions fan base was already scorned and ready to point fingers.

The only possible explanation, then, is that the replay official was clouded by bias. Maybe he grew up a Nebraska fan. Maybe Tom Osborne slipped him a couple hundred bucks before the game. Maybe, like so many indignant reporters around this time a year ago, he wanted to show the world just how much he hates child abuse, and decided to take it out on Penn State.

(Read the full reaction here.)

Next week, Penn State hosts the Indiana Hoosiers at Beaver Stadium (Noon ET on Big Ten Network).

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