I was there! I was witness to one of the worst officiated college games ever. Gophers won 34-31 over tough-luck Purdue. They are now 2-3 in the Big Ten and remain Bowl eligible.
They were set to travel to Madison this week to play 2-1 Wisconsin for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. But the game was canceled due to COVID-19 cases in Minnesota’s program. Wisconsin has already lost two games on the schedule because of COVID-19.
The Gophers got their first home win at TCF Bank Stadium but not without controversy. I thought the crew did not do a consistently good job of officiating.
Purdue Head Coach Jeff Brohm said he “did not like the call at all.” He did not get an explanation for the controversial offensive pass interference penalty.
The call in question: Purdue tight end Payne Durham took a 19-yard touchdown pass that would have given Purdue a 37-34 lead with .52 seconds left. Three different officials ruled three different things. One called it a touchdown, one threw a flag for interference, and the other said good play. I saw no contact at all—maybe the official was in a bad position and thought he saw a push-off.
The Gophers played the game without 20 players who had tested positive for COVID-19. Line coach Brian Callahan was also out with COVID-19.
I also thought Purdue had a touchdown just before the half by running back Tirek Murphy. He made a nice catch in the corner of the end zone for what appeared to be a touchdown. This time, after further review, the replay officials said he did not secure the ball.
Again, I did not see why that was not a touchdown. Murphy clearly caught the ball and still had firm control after going to the ground. Also, I’m certain Brohm and his staff felt the game was taken away from them. It was clear the officials had a rough night but nobody is perfect.
Purdue is now 2-2 and the Gophers are 2-3.