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What Mississippi State's Record Might Be If Crucial Officiating Errors Had Been Corrected

Mississippi State could have finished the regular season with a better overall record if it weren't for these mistakes.

Complaining about the referees whether it be in college football or the NFL has a sort of evergreen quality to it -- and it shouldn't. Perhaps it's just the recency effect, but this season in college football has seemed to be one of the worst in regards to officiating that we've seen in recent history.

Mississippi State, while certainly not alone, was one team that was greatly affected by officiating errors throughout the season. Just about every game the Bulldogs played in had some significant errors that could be argued to have played a role in the outcome of the game that wasn't in their favor, but two stand out among the others.

And this isn't a "this could have been a turning point in the game that if X, Y and Z played out, Mississippi State could have come away with the win after all" -- though there are definitely some of those, too.

If the errors committed by the officials in the 31-29 loss to the Memphis Tigers on Sept. 18 and the 31-28 fall to the Arkansas Razorbacks on Nov. 6.

What happened in the Memphis game received far more attention than the latter, though both errors ended up being just as bad in the end.

The issues started as early on as the bottom of the first quarter in Liberty Bowl Stadium, when MSU was looking to call timeout before the officials called delay of game, but that was far from the worst of it all.

On Calvin Austin III's 94-yard punt return for a touchdown that never should have been, cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. put his hand on the ball and thought he had downed it.

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The referee signaled the play had ended and it all should have stopped there... it didn't. With Austin's touchdown, Memphis extended its lead from 21-17 to 28-17 with just under six minutes left in the game. On the same play, two Memphis players were wearing the No. 4 jersey at the same time, so the play should have been void right there.

The Bulldogs scored a touchdown less under three minutes later to cut Memphis’ lead to 28-23. Following that, the Bulldogs were called for illegal touching on an onside kick. The referees overturned that after review -- but then they retroactively called an illegal block penalty on MSU. The Bulldogs were forced to kick it again and it was recovered by Memphis. The Tigers put a field goal on the board on that next possession.

The Bulldogs got back to the scoreboard about 30 seconds later, with quarterback Will Rogers coming up short on the two-point conversion that allowed the Tigers to kneel out a win -- and it's a victory that it's hard to believe the Tigers would have ever achieved if it weren't for the officiating problems.

The SEC itself seemed to realize that, releasing this statement after the day's events:

Moving on to the Arkansas game, MSU seemed to take a step back and could have been better in several aspects to put itself in a better position to win, but a holding call on 4th & 1 (the most glaring officiating error of the night) allowed Arkansas to continue a drive that ultimately was the difference between MSU winning and losing the game.

The call is questionable and quite soft, to say the least -- this hardly qualifies as holding, as can be seen here.

And speaking of holding calls, among the missed calls that went in Arkansas' favor was this one. That's about as textbook as it gets.

State finishes the regular season at 7-5 with its bowl game still yet to be determined, but it's easy to get the sense the Bulldogs had ought to be 9-3 instead, third overall in the SEC West standings, right behind an Ole Miss team that went 10-2.