You are here:

College Football/Utah vs Oregon play


I wanted to clarify something on the Utes vs Ducks play that is widely seen now across the internet..Clay, a WR from Utah supposedly had scored on a 79 yard TD pass but he intentionally dropped the ball on the yard line. An Oregon player came and picked up the ball but he fumbled it and his teammate returned it 100 yards..My question is concerning the first Oregon player who picked up the ball..Does he stay eligible although he ran out of bounds and then ran back in during the play>


Great question, and a play that was officiated absolutely perfectly.  College officials around the country are giving huge kudos for those officials for their patience and judgment on the play.  Could not have been done better.

The rules do not prohibit a defensive player from going out of bounds during a play.  During a scrimmage play (not a kick), the only restriction in the rules is that no eligible offensive receiver may go out of bounds on his own (not due to contact by an opponent) and touch a legal forward pass while in the field of play or in the end zone until it has been touched by an opponent or an official.  

There is no such restriction on the defense, and there is no restriction on the offense on this play either, because the forward pass was completed.  Provided that the player reestablishes himself in the field of play (by touching inbounds while not touching anything out of bounds), he eligible to touch and recover the ball.

Good question.  Great play from which to learn on both sides.  The officials did a perfect job on it.  Teams can learn from Utah, obviously, and can also learn that if you see a ball on the ground, and hear no whistle, go get it!

Bill Robers

College Football

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


William Robers


I can answer rules questions and officiating questions (including training, mechanics, and general questions).


College Football Official since 2005; assist in training newer officials.

Big Sky Conference Officials Association Sports Lawyers Association Rotary International

Law Degree from University of Minnesota Law School, 2001 MBA from Carlson School of Management at the U. of Minnesota, 2001 B.S. in Business Administration from Marquette University, 1997

Awards and Honors
Post-Season official in 2012 and 2013.

©2016 All rights reserved.