Rutgers fought valiantly against Michigan State and had a chance to win. They were driving down 31-24 and found themselves near midfield, but things hit a snag when Chris Laviano took a big sack for a loss of 10 on third down.
Rutgers quickly got back to the line of scrimmage for one final fourth-down heave ... and Laviano spiked the ball into the ground, turning the ball over on downs and ending the game.
Interim head coach Norries Wilson was displeased:
And gave Laviano a talking-to:
UPDATE: Wilson said he called for the spike.
Interesting postgame comments at Rutgers. pic.twitter.com/jeZM4sEjFO— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) October 11, 2015
For now, this is Wilson's last game as Rutgers' interim head coach. He took over for Kyle Flood, who was suspended for three games for academic misconduct, who returns next week at Indiana.
To be fair, Rutgers was kinda damned if they do, damned if they don't: They needed a 50-yard throw to win the game, and only had a few seconds to communicate that to the wide receivers. Plus, with so little time on the clock, it makes sense they were paying more attention to that than to the down.
That said: SPIKING THE BALL ON FOURTH DOWN is the one thing with a lower success rate than 50-yard Hail Mary passes. Somehow, nobody -- not coaches, not receivers, not linemen -- overruled when everybody sprinted to clock it.
Rutgers is not the first team to spike the ball on fourth down -- FAU did it a few years back trailing big against Miami -- but so far as I can remember, they're the first to do it with the game still technically up for grabs.