The Central Michigan Chippewas scored a stunning upset over then-No. 22 Oklahoma State Cowboys early in the 2016 season, with the Chippewas using an awe-inspiring Hail Mary hook-and-ladder to steal the win with no time on the clock.
Steal is indeed the key word there, as MAC officials ultimately ruled that the play Central Michigan scored on should never have taken place.
Central Michigan’s Hook-And-Lateral Upsets Oklahoma State
Central Michigan’s 51-yard Hail Mary on that fateful September Saturday went into the history books as one of the best plays that season. With no time left on the clock, Central Michigan called and landed a Hail Mary, but the play wasn’t over when the ball came down around the 10 yard line; the Chippewas connected with a perfect hook-and-ladder after the catch to reach the endzone, winning 30-27.
This was Central Michigan’s first win over a ranked team in 25 years when they beat Michigan State.
The Controversy That Followed
The reason the play shouldn’t have happened is because of what happened on the previous down.
Oklahoma State had the ball on 4th-and-13, where they were called for an intentional grounding penalty as time expired. Usually, penalties allow for an extra play to take place, but since intentional grounding results in a loss of down, an extra play shouldn’t have been allowed by NCAA rule.
By rule, the call on the field was wrong, but you would think that the NCAA might consider changing this rule after this game. Would you really want a team to be able to intentionally ground the ball to end the game?
However, as the Big 12 mentioned in their statement above, the game was over and the ruling could not be reversed. Instead, Central Michigan secured its first victory over a ranked opponent since 1991, and Oklahoma State sat in Stillwater with a big loss for the Big 12.
The Chippewas weren’t exactly national powerhouses during the 2016 season. They finished with a 6-7 record under second-year coach John Bonamego, with only three wins in eight Mid-American Conference (MAC) games. To bookend the season, they were blown out by Tulsa in the Miami Beach Bowl, 55-10.
The loss at Boone Pickens Stadium wasn’t the last bit of adversity the 2016 Cowboys faced under iconic head coach Mike Gundy. After losing two weeks later on the road to then-No. 12 Baylor, Oklahoma State’s record fell to 2-2 as they dropped from the AP Top 25 poll. Led by quarterback Mason Rudolph — he had 4,091 yards, 28 TDs and 4 INTs that season — the Pokes rattled off seven-straight wins before losing Bedlam to the Oklahoma Sooners and some redshirt junior quarterback named Baker Mayfield.
Oklahoma State romped then-No. 9 Colorado to win the Alamo Bowl, 38-8, finishing the season at 10-3 and No. 11 in the final AP poll.
Take away the fabled Hail Mary that didn’t count, and this Cowboys team was arguably one of the best Stillwater had ever seen.