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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Flippo: Revisiting MSU Football’s Controversial Loss Against Memphis

Landon Scheel | The Reflector

MSU football ranked fourth in the country in passing yards per game last season.

The Mississippi State University football team opens the 2022 season with revenge on their mind.

There are two things to grasp from last year’s catastrophe in Bluff City. One, the SEC officiating crew made a horrific call on former Memphis wideout Calvin Austin III’s punt return touchdown. Secondly, the Bulldogs held a two-possession lead heading into the third quarter but could not seem to put the University of Memphis away. 

Let’s take a closer look at what went wrong in last year’s matchup as MSU looks for revenge in 2022.

It’s no secret that in past years the college football landscape has seen its fair share of missed calls and terrible officiating. The catastrophe that occured in this matchup between the Bulldogs and Tigers sent shockwaves throughout the college football landscape.

Memphis held a 21-17 lead over MSU heading into the final seven minutes of play. The Tigers forced the Bulldogs to punt with around five minutes remaining on the clock, and what happened just mere seconds later ended up becoming one of the most controversial calls of the 2021 season.

As the officiating crew seemingly marked the spot of the ball, Austin III swept past a plethora of Bulldogs and took it to the house 94 yards for a touchdown. The mistake made by the officiating crew was obvious, as a bean bag was tossed to signal the ball was down.

So after officials handed the Tigers a touchdown, Memphis led MSU by 11 with only five minutes remaining.

Even with officiating woes, the Bulldogs did not surrender. Quarterback Will Rogers drove the MSU offense down the field and connected with Malik Heath for a touchdown, bringing the Bulldogs within five. After a missed two point conversion, MSU went for an onside kick and what happened next added to an already atrocious performance from the officiating crew.

The Bulldogs recovered the onside kick, but were flagged for illegal touching initially. After further review, the officials decided that MSU did not touch the ball before it reached 10 yards but did decide to hand the Bulldogs a illegal blocking penalty which led to a re-kick and a recovery from the Tigers.

Memphis kicker Joe Doyle nailed a 51-yard field goal, which extended the Tigers lead to 31-23 with two minutes left in the game.

On the ensuing drive, Rogers connected with wideout Makai Polk for a 36-yard touchdown to bring the Bulldogs within two points. Even with all the officiating blunders that occurred, MSU was a two-point conversion away from tying the game.

The Bulldogs offense missed the two-point conversion try, and after a failed onside kick attempt, the Tigers ran down the clock and won 31-29.

Fast forward to 2022, and what you find is the Bulldogs have a date with destiny on September 3rd. The Memphis Tigers make the trip to Starkvegas in what will make for one of the most anticipated rematches on MSU’s schedule in 2022. 

Can the Bulldogs avenge the loss against the Tigers from last season? According to Bill Connolly of ESPN, MSU ranks first among all SEC teams in returning production at 78%. With a potential Heisman candidate at the helm and a supporting cast of talented wideouts, the Bulldogs look to send the Tigers back to Memphis with the blues this season. 


About the Contributor
Dylan Flippo
Dylan Flippo, Former Sports Editor
Dylan Flippo served as the Sports Editor from 2022 to 2023.
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Flippo: Revisiting MSU Football’s Controversial Loss Against Memphis