Controversial forward progress call in OT of Music City Bowl helps to deny Tennessee victory

Thursday’s Music City Bowl between Purdue and Tennessee had a bit of everything. It was high-scoring, it had big, exciting plays, it was controversial and it was won on a walk-off.

The controversy occurred in overtime after the teams ended regulation tied 45-45.

The Vols got the ball first in OT and eventually made it down to the Purdue 1. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright was ruled short of the end zone as a result of his forward progress being stopped, but Wright had tried to extend his arm and reach over the goal line with the ball.

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The whistle blew after the ball appeared to cross the plane, but forward progress rulings can’t be reviewed. The call resulted in a Tennessee turnover on downs and an irate Vols coach Josh Heupel. 

The Boilermakers went on to win 48-45 on a field goal.

After the game, Heupel relayed to the media the explanation he was given, which was pretty simple, even if he disagreed with it.

“There’s some things I probably don’t agree with,” Heupel said. “Yeah, I think everyone knows that.” 

When the whistle blew and whether it should even have been blown is the main topic of discussion. Most camera angles appear to show Wright breaking the plane while not being down by contact.

As of late Thursday, referee Jerry Magallanes, who headed the ACC officiating crew that worked the game, hasn’t addressed the call. Magallanes and several other officials who worked the game have come under fire in the past for missed calls.

The game had plenty of people talking before the officiating came under fire. There were 1,293 total yards of offense and 57 total first downs. Tennesee was penalized 14 times for 128 yards and still only lost by three points.

The matchup was a big game for both teams. Purdue was looking for its first nine-win season since 2003, while Heupel was looking to become the first Tennesee coach to win a bowl game in his first season since Phil Fulmer in 1993.

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