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ACC suspends refs for 4 Miami-Duke mistakes, including 1 that cost Blue Devils the win

The ACC is acknowledging that bad officiating handed Duke a loss on Saturday.

On Saturday night, Miami beat Duke on one of the wildest college football plays ever, and also one that never should have happened. During a barrage of laterals that led up to the Hurricanes' winning touchdown, referees made a bunch of mistakes. And on Sunday, the ACC announced the entire game officiating crew has been suspended two games.

Here's the league's four-count indictment on the officials' mistakes:

  • The replay official erred in not overturning the ruling on the field that the Miami player had released the ball prior to his knee being down. If called, this would have ended the game.
  • The on-field officials erred by failing to penalize Miami for an illegal block in the back at the Miami 16-yard line. If called, the ball would have been placed at the Miami 8-yard line and the game would have been extended for an untimed down.
  • A block in the back foul was called at the Duke 26-yard line. After the officials conferred, which is appropriate, they correctly determined that the block was from the side, which resulted in the flag being picked up. The replay official was not involved in the decision to pick up the flag; however, the referee did not effectively manage communication and properly explain why the flag was picked up.
  • In addition, the on-field crew failed to penalize a Miami player for leaving the bench area and entering the field prior to the end of the play. This foul would not have negated the touchdown because it would have been enforced as a dead ball foul.
It's often not fair to blame game officials for wins or losses, because calls during the course of a given contest might fundamentally change the way it plays out. But in this case, Duke won. The game should've been over as soon as one Hurricane lateraled the ball after already touching the turf with his knee. The game should've been over because of Miami blocking Duke defenders in the back. The game just should have been over, and Duke should have won.

Miami was flagged for a school-record 23 penalties, so things were rough all around. But that's no solace for Duke.

Miami, for its part, couldn't care less.