Lincoln Riley speaks on horrendous officiating in USC Football's loss

Evan Desai
Lincoln Riley, USC Football, USC Trojans
Lincoln Riley, USC Football, USC Trojans / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
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In the first quarter of USC Football's loss against Utah, an interception to give USC the ball up 14-0 on the Utes was called back due to an egregious roughing the passer call. Utah got 15 yards and the ball at the USC 12. They scored the next play. Watch this play below, and realize that anyone who thinks this is remotely close to a roughing the passer call needs to see an eye doctor immediately:

Both the color analyst for the game (Brock Huard), and the officiating analyst for the game (Dean Blandino) were against the call. Huard in particular absolutely TORE INTO the officials for the call. It says a lot, as he was a quarterback himself. A Washington QB in college, he also if anything would have quite a bit against USC in general.

Then, with Utah driving one last time to try to win the game down 42-35, SC had them stopped for a fourth down. Instead, however, another objectively terrible roughing the passer penalty was called on USC.

The first was on Stanley Ta'ufo'ou, and the second on Nick Figueroa. There is no video available right now for Figueroa's, but similarly to Ta'ufo'ou's, it set the internet on fire due to how objectively awful everyone watching the game (except perhaps a few Utah fans) found it. The entire football community hated the calls. It wasn't just USC fans:

Lincoln Riley addressed the officiating during USC Football's controversial loss after the game.

Lincoln Riley also got screwed over and forced to burn a timeout when USC Football was trying to mount a last-second scoring drive to end the first half. It wasn't just the roughing the passer calls that crushed SC for no reason. The refs ruled Mario Williams with a catch and down in the middle of the field in that drive, so Riley called a timeout.

The officials used that time to then review the play, and then ruled it incomplete. Therefore, there would be no timeout, correct? According to the Pac-12 refs, the timeout was somehow still called despite Riley calling it because the refs screwed up and called it a catch when it wasn't.

Riley was asked about the refs, and he had an interesting answer. It's an answer that can be argued to be the perfect answer:

Here's why this could be argued to be a perfect answer, if one can't tell: It is 100% true that the officiating was really bad and one-sided tonight. Again, it was FAR from just USC fans saying this. Riley spoke the truth in that half of his comment. As for the other half, USC still was good enough to win the game even with the officiating.

Utah Tight End Dalton Kincaid wrecked this SC defense for 16 catches and 234 receiving yards. When has SC given up that type of performance to a pass-catcher this year? Never, as this was the first time. Therefore, SC absolutely was capable of preventing him from playing at THAT superhuman level.

That was next-level stuff from Kincaid, and if USC could have even contained him from superhuman level to even just elite level, they win the game. Also, if USC didn't have three penalties on their last possession, they just might get in field goal range and win the game (one of the fouls was on special teams, and the other two were on offense). They would have had a good shot.

SC managed 30 yards on that last drive. If they would have had 30 yards and no penalties from where Raleek Brown returned the kick on that last drive (which was a great return), they likely are in field goal range. I say likely because there is no scoring that gives an exact spot on the field as to where Brown returned it to, but the eye test looked like he returned it to about the USC 45-yard line.

30 yards from there absolutely puts SC in field goal range. So, here's the reality: Even with all that god-awful officiating, SC was still good enough to win that game. In Utah. On an emotional night when Utah was honoring two players that passed away. In a true must-win game for the Utes.

The fact that SC would have won this game given those circumstances if the refs were even somewhat competent could speak volumes about this team. Maybe this just goes to show that if they just stay the course, they'll pull these type of wins out moving forward. Maybe it means that as long as the officiating isn't egregiously bad, they have these games locked up.

And think about it. Can games even be officiated worse than this one was? Two things can be true: It's true Utah was gifted 14 points, and those drives of course would have been over if not for two hideously bad roughing the passer calls. And it's also true that SC still was good enough to win the game even with those calls. Riley seemed to hit on that after the game.

Game-by-game predictions for USC in 2022. dark. Next

Perhaps it foreshadows that SC will be winning these types of games moving forward, as it's not likely for SC to be battling officiating breaks this bad in every game. SC is still alive in the Pac-12 race, and very well could get in if they win the rest of their conference games.

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