After the game ended, I went shopping with my wife. According to her, she’d suffered for over four hours and wanted to get out of the house. About an hour into the excursion, I called my Dad.
“Did we still win the game?”
“Yes, we still won.”
“Whew. I’m out shopping with (my wife) and was afraid the refs might have discovered some new rule and brought the teams back on the field.”
But that was the way I felt. Auburn didn’t do itself any favors in this game. As the game wore on, I felt like the refs were doing everything they could to give the game to Northwestern. Auburn was flagged for 140 yards in penalties. NWU had two five-yarders and one offensive pass interference that they were livid about. (Yes, NWU. If you throw a CB to the ground, it’s pass interference. Not even this crew could ignore that.)
However, it felt like Auburn won the game at least three and possibly four times, but were stymied by poor calls when they weren’t shooting themselves in the foot. Luckily, Auburn had more lives than the USA Men’s Olympic basketball team in the 1972 Olympics. But let’s look at it.
1) NWU has 4th and long in regulation. – Auburn sacks the QB and is flagged for a 15-yard facemask penalty and an automatic first down. Did the Auburn player touch the facemask? Yes. It was an accident, created by a QB ducking his head and trying to escape. In previous years, this would have been a 5-yard penalty and still 4th down. (Granted, with these refs, it would’ve been 15 yards anyway.) This is a no-call at best.
2) NWU QB fumbles in OT. Recovered by Auburn. - This could have gone either way and was likely correctly called as the NWU QB being down. However, you knew which way it was going.
3) Roughing the kicker – OK. This is the one that irks me. If there was any call more blatantly false, it was this one. The Auburn player goes for the block and is flat on the ground two yards in front of the kicker. His momentum does carry him toward the kicker sliding along the ground, but the kicker is HOPPING FORWARD. He and NWU should not be rewarded for tripping himself over a player. What makes this worse is that earlier in the game, a NWU player runs into Durst, our punter. THE REFEREE IS STARING DIRECTLY AT THE PLAY AND CALLS NOTHING. It was momentum and would have been likely a five-yard penalty. But still, he ran into him AND NOTHING.
4) We knocked them out of bounds on the fake. Finally, we won it.
But like I mentioned earlier. We didn’t do ourselves any favors. We nearly fumbled this game away. We allowed them to rack up 625 yards. And we had a lot of excessive celebration penalties. We didn’t play smart.
The Chicago Tribune made a comment that NWU would win because it’s players on defense were intelligent and could handle Auburn’s offense. They were insulting, but nearly right. Thankfully, Auburn opened the year of the Tiger with a win.