Iowa State survives awful fumble call to beat Memphis in Liberty Bowl

Dr. Saturday
Iowa State quarterback <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/227145/" data-ylk="slk:Joel Lanning">Joel Lanning</a> (7) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Memphis in the first half of the Liberty Bowl NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning (7) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Memphis in the first half of the Liberty Bowl NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Iowa State’s first fumble of the season came at a really, really bad time. But it also probably wasn’t even a fumble to begin with.

With the Cyclones leading 21-20 with 4:06 left in the fourth quarter, ISU RB David Montgomery fumbled into the end zone after scoring an apparent touchdown. But the play was ruled a fumble on the field and inexplicably upheld on review.

(via ESPN)
(via ESPN)

Thankfully for Iowa State, the call ultimately didn’t matter. Memphis turned the ball over on downs on the ensuing possession and dual-threat linebacker/quarterback Joel Lanning salted the game away with a first down.

But back to the fumble, which is one of the most egregious calls you’ll see all bowl season. We understand that there has to be “clear and convincing” evidence to overturn a call on the field. But that GIF above is pretty convincing, right? And look at this side-by-side view of two replays. Officials have the ability to sync up multiple angles.

(via ESPN)
(via ESPN)

How is this not a touchdown? On the slightest of chances Montgomery is starting to fumble the ball right there, he’s still far enough into the end zone that it would have been a TD. The play is over as soon as the ball breaks the plane of the goal line.

If college football games are going to be stopped multiple times per game for replay reviews, calls like this have to be right. Especially in situations like the one above. Montgomery’s TD and the ensuing PAT would have forced Memphis to score a two-point conversion along with a touchdown to tie the game. Without the TD, all the Tigers had to do was kick a potential game-winning field goal.

The fumble call ruined what would have been an FBS record, too. No team had ever made it through an entire season without losing a fumble. Iowa State should be that team. Unofficially, they will be that team.

The win means the Cyclones finish the season 8-5. It’s the first eight-win season for the program since 2000 and the first bowl win for Iowa State since the 2009 season. Memphis finishes the season at 10-3.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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