There’s an epidemic in college football this year. For some strange, inexplicable reason, players keep dropping the football before crossing the goal line.
It could be excitement. It could be a lack of concentration. We’ll never know.
But college football does have a history of players dropping the ball before the goal line. These are the 10 worst times it has happened.
10. Tyrann Mathieu – 2011
The Honey Badger took an electrifying 62-yard punt return back for a touchdown in the 2011 SEC Championship Game. You won’t see it at full speed, but Mathieu tossed the ball to the official before crossing the goal line. It was not called. LSU would have retained possession had the official noticed, but it was a pretty rough error in such a high-leverage game.
9. Oregon’s Byron Marshall – 2015
Oregon’s Byron Marshall lucked out big time in the 2015 national title game. Marshall broke free for a touchdown against Ohio State off a perfect pass from Marcus Mariota to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to five. You’ll also notice that he came terrifyingly close to dropping the ball before the goal line. The officials would review the play and let Oregon keep the touchdown.
8. Notre Dame’s T.J. Jones – 2010
T.J. Jones blatantly dropped the ball in 2010 against Michigan, but for some reason, it was not reviewed. It wasn’t even close. Even with this gift of a touchdown, Notre Dame lost to Michigan 28-24.
7. Cal’s Vic Enwere – 2016
During Cal’s upset of Texas in Week 3, the Bears’ Vic Enwere put the game away with his long touchdown run. He got too excited and let go of the ball before crossing the goal line. The officials reviewed the play, and ruled that Cal retained possession because there was no immediate recovery from Texas. That could be debated, though.
6. Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon – 2016
Joe Mixon should have lost his touchdown return from the Sooners’ loss to Ohio State, but the officials did not review a clear fumble before the goal line. The ball landed in the end zone, which should have been a touchback for Ohio State.
5. Florida State’s Dalvin Cook – 2016
In Florida State’s comeback win against Ole Miss, Dalvin Cook was on his way to a sure touchdown reception when he tried to transfer the ball to his right hand. He lost hold of the ball and fumbled it out of bounds. Cook deserves *somewhat* of a break because it wasn’t intentional or done in celebration. But it was also really unnecessary. Florida State ended up settling for a field goal, so the mishap cost the team four points.
4. Oregon’s Byron Marshall, again – 2014
You’d think Marshall would have learned when he nearly fumbled at the end zone in the national title game because it wasn’t the first time it had happened. Earlier that same season, Marshall let go of the ball before crossing the goal line and fumbled out of bounds. It went for a South Dakota touchback. The Ducks won easily, but yikes, that was a rough mistake.
3. Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon – 2011
Try watching that video without laughing out loud. You can’t. It’s impossible. Blackmon had himself a walk-in touchdown against No. 8 Texas A&M, and he lost the ball while showboating and fumbled it out of the end zone for a touchback. Just wow. The Cowboys would end up winning 30-29, but that could have been a season-changing error.
2. Clemson’s Ray Ray McCloud – 2016
McCloud’s punt return against Troy was originally ruled a touchdown, but he, again, clearly drops the ball before the goal line. Troy made the immediate recovery and was awarded a touchback after review. This mental lapse helped keep Troy in the game as it nearly pulled a shocking upset over second-ranked Clemson. The Tigers survived, 30-24.
1. Utah’s Kaelin Clay – 2014
Nothing compares to Kaelin Clay’s fumble before the end zone against Oregon. Nothing. It’s the worst fumble before the end zone ever. With Utah up 7-0 in the second quarter, Clay broke free for a 79-yard touchdown catch that would have put Utah up two scores. But he dropped the ball before the goal line, and Oregon never stopped playing. Joe Walker picked the ball up and ran it all the way back for an Oregon touchdown. Instead of going up 14-0, Utah surrendered the lead to Oregon. The Ducks went on to score 24-unanswered points and won 51-27 against a deflated Utah team.
Source: USA Today Fan Sports Poll