Referees forget what a fumble is allowing Auburn to stun Arkansas

Jake Crandall via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Auburn is a team that has a knack for earning bizarre wins and Saturday was no exception as the Tigers just barely took a 30-28 win over Arkansas in controversial fashion. The problem? It sure seems like the referees forgot what constitutes a fumble.

Trailing 28-27, Auburn was driving the field looking for the go-ahead score in the final minute of the game. The Tigers got the ball down to the 19 and quarterback Bo Nix lined up under center looking to spike the ball. He fumbled the snap, picked the ball up, then turned around and spiked it into the ground.

The problem? This is a fumble.

The reason teams spike the ball is to stop the clock. When the quarterback takes the snap and spikes it down, it's an incomplete pass and it stops the clock...so long as you throw it forward. A backward pass, however, is a not an incomplete pass, it's a fumble.

If you watched the replay and did not immediately recognize that it was a fumble, that's OK. You're a fan and when you know Nix is trying to spike the ball so you probably just naturally assumed the spike was OK and moved on. You know who can't do that? The refs.

A referee's job is to know the rules of the game so when Nix turns around and spikes the ball, you're not allowed to just say, "hey, don't worry about it Auburn! I know what you were trying to do!" It's your job to know that is a fumble and to call it a fumble. Obviously, that didn't happen. But don't worry everyone, they did call intentional grounding on the play so...take that Auburn. Don't do it again!


Instead of losing the ball, the Tigers kicked the game-winning field goal with seven seconds left to go to win the game, but again, remember that the refs called intentional grounding on what was an obvious fumble so you can't really say Arkansas got screwed.