A controversial sack call in Texas-Alabama 2022.
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"The Safety That Wasn't" and Other Blown Calls That Robbed Texas Against Alabama

The Alabama-Texas thriller was officially the Crimson Tide's sloppiest game in the Nick Saban era, but honestly the referees missed way more than the 15 penalties called against the Tide. The result, unfortunately, may have gifted then-No. 1 Alabama the win and robbed Texas.

Sure, Alabama looked messier than a puppy's water bowl. Will Anderson Jr., the expected first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, had more flags than an Olympic opening ceremony. And yes, the Longhorns certainly didn't help themselves by missing a chip-shot field goal just before halftime that left three points off the board.

But in an alternate universe, one where the referees in that game call everything correctly, Texas wins that game handily. Four major missed calls affected the outcome by as much as 13 total points. How did I get that number? In this scenario, I assume Texas successfully takes advantage of every missed call. Even if the Longhorns take advantage of one, that's enough to win the game. Of course, this isn't entirely realistic, but then again, neither is writing about a game from an alternate universe standpoint (or expecting referees to be competent).

The First Missed Call: A Pass Interference Even the Broadcast Booth Saw

On third and goal in the first quarter, Texas was looking to answer Alabama's field goal. Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers threw a fade in the end zone to Ja'Tavion Sanders. Alabama cornerback Ga'Quincy McKinstry put his hands all over him but wasn't flagged for pass interference. Even the broadcast booth said the referees missed the call. That would have given Texas a new set of downs. Instead, they had to settle for a field goal.

The Bryce Young Safety Fiasco

By far the most controversial play of the game came in the third quarter with the game tied at 10. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young looked to have been sacked in the end zone on third and seven, which would've gone for a safety. The initial call, however, was targeting and roughing the passer, which didn't make sense if Young wasn't considered down. The referee then said there was no foul on the play, but the questions still loomed: was Young down? Why was the throw not considered intentional grounding and thus a safety? If it were, Texas gets two points on the safety and the ball.

The Face Mask on Bijan Robinson Near the End Zone

The third call that was clearly a whiff came at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Texas running back Bijan Robinson's face mask was clearly grabbed by Alabama defensive back Jordan Battle on first and 10 inside the red zone. It was so clear that, again, the broadcasters expected a flag. Instead of second and five, Texas would have had first and goal. They kicked a field goal after not being able to grab a first down. In this scenario, they score a touchdown.

The Missed Holding Call Seals It

The last egregious non-call came during Alabama's game-winning drive with under two minutes left. With about 30 seconds left, Texas dialed up a corner blitz. Young was able to evade the blitzer and run free on the right side of the field first a first down and much more. However, it was clear that Alabama right tackle JC Latham was holding Texas defensive end Ovie Oghoufo, who otherwise likely makes the tackle on Young before he reaches the first down. Alabama had just one timeout left and would've had to burn it while still near the 40-yard line. If the holding is called, do they still get close enough for that game-winning kick? Who knows. For the purpose of this article, we'll say he misses a long field goal. Texas wins. College football explodes. Nick Saban retires on the spot.

I'm kidding. And I hate to be one to complain about referees, but this game had massive implications. Let's hope we don't get any more games this season as poorly officiated as this one.

MORE: A Good Loss and a Bad Win: Alabama Looked Mortal Against Unranked Texas