Why Virginia Tech lost (not the officiating)

January, 4, 2012
1/04/12
11:30
AM ET
NEW ORLEANS — When Virginia Tech lost to Clemson in the ACC championship game, Hokies' running back David Wilson questioned the playcalling. On Tuesday night, after the Hokies lost to Michigan in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Wilson called out the officiating.

When asked what the difference in the game was, Wilson said, "the referees."

"They did play a factor in this game," he said. "Jayron had a pass interference call, both of them were fighting for the ball, and it wasn't anything dramatic. Then they called me down, they showed the replay and I clearly wasn't on the ground. And then Danny Coale's catch. Those were three key plays that changed the momentum in that game. They definitely played a factor in the way the game turned out."

Me: Do you think it would've come down to those calls, though, if you guys were able to produce more in the red zone? On the 4-yard line, twice, and not to bring up a bad memory, but you kind of went the wrong way for a while there.

DW: "Nah, those calls were key calls. They definitely played a factor in how the game turned out."

Truth? I thought Coale's catch in the end zone in overtime was exactly that — a catch. But here's the thing: Officiating didn't lose the game for Virginia Tech or win it for Michigan. Here's what did:

SPECIAL TEAMS
  • A roughing the kicker penalty led to a Michigan touchdown.
  • A fumble on a kickoff led to a Michigan field goal.
  • A holding penalty on a Michigan kickoff led to Virginia Tech starting its final regulation drive inside their own 10.
  • Virginia Tech also missed a 37-yard field goal in overtime, the final margin of victory.
RED ZONE OFFENSE (or lack thereof)

Virginia Tech reached the red zone six times and only scored one touchdown. According to ESPN's Stats & Information group, entering the game, Virginia Tech scored touchdowns on 53.1 percent of their red-zone trips (ranked 10th in the ACC) and their red-zone troubles Tuesday were due to its inability to run the ball successfully.

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