Controversial calls leave Michigan frustrated after College Football Playoff semifinal loss

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan - TCU
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A pair of rulings during No. 3 TCU’s 51-45 win over No. 2 Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl sparked controversy, especially among Wolverines fans who were frustrated with how the controversial calls affected their chances their teams in the wild College Football Playoff semifinal. While the Horned Frogs were penalized twice for 70-plus yards by the Wolverines in a game that featured several questionable calls on both sides, a pair of plays that were subjected to video review stood out.

First came a potential game-changer by Michigan receiver Roman Wilson early in the second quarter. His 50-yard plunge by quarterback JJ McCarthy was initially ruled a touchdown. Upon review, however, the officials deemed Wilson down at the 1-yard line. In the end, it shouldn’t have mattered — the Wolverines should have been able to gain a yard from there to hit the dirt — but it ended up being an important and questionable call when a botched handoff between McCarthy and Kalel Mullings had resulting in a touchback and turnover on the next play.

It looked like Wilson didn’t actually have the football until he was in the end zone, when the momentum from his dive carried him over the goal line, but the officials ruled otherwise and the costly fumble ensued. In a game decided by six points, a call that took six points off the board — along with a possible extra point — hung over the rest of the game.

Then, with Michigan in possession of the football and facing a fourth-and-10 from its own 25-yard line in the final minute, it appeared TCU’s Kee’Yon Stewart might have been on target. The junior cornerback kept his head down while helping reduce Michigan’s Colston Loveland well short of the first down.

A targeting call would have resulted in 15 yards and an automatic first down for the Wolverines, which would have drastically changed the way the final minute played out. After a video review, however, the officials ruled there was no targeting and TCU was able to kneel the football and run out the clock.

Ultimately, Michigan’s three turnovers — including two TCU pick sixes — and the Wolverines’ red zone struggles did more damage than the crew. But it may take some time for Wolverines fans to get over the way the game was called. For the record, TCU fans have been unhappy with the officiating as well, including this questionable roughing the passer call that extended a Michigan drive in the first half.

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