It does make a difference in that it keeps in a play resulting in a defensive score. Clemson's possession would then end with an opponent score, not a non-scoring turnover. If the play was allowed to stand as called on the field, Clemson would then have possession after the kickoff, and if we revert now to the course of the game as it played out, OSU would get a stop, then score on their offensive series. The difference would be seven (most likely) points on the board which were not there before. Would the game have played out as it did if the catch and fumble was allowed to stand? I don't know. But its all we have to go on in speculating. The teams were pretty evenly matched. I could very well see them slugging it out the rest of the way just as thy did, but with the Buckeyes having more points on the board.
What you say is true but in many ways it makes the outcome all the more galling. We commend the men for their efforts, but when those efforts are thwarted by bad decisions by men not on the field, and whose actions are questionable at best, it makes it all the harder to let go and quietly shuffle off into the night, hat in hand and accepting the injustice of it.
The rule doesn't say you have to make a "football move". It says you have to have control of the ball for a time that would ENABLE the player to execute an act common to the game. There is a difference between being enabled to do something and actually doing it. Its about time of control, not whether or not the player did anything during or after that time. That said, the replay looks inconclusive to me. I tend to shade it a bit towards catch-and-fumble for the reasons stated above. But others go with the overturn side. IOW, there is not decisive evidence in the replay to overturn the call on the field. When the replay is inconclusive, the tendency is always to defer to the on-field referee's judgment. And there is no way anyone will convince me that this call was not a deciding factor in the outcome. It took a minimum of six points off the board for Ohio State. If the rest of the game had played out as it did, those six points would have assured at least OT. If they made the PAT, that would be seven points back on the board and enough to win it. Pretty hard to dispute basic arithmetic.
That's pretty mean, throwing in uncalled-for comments about criminal behavior in a discussion of a sporting event. And you say OSU fans are low-class. Sheesh.
Let's put this to bed once and for all. No one questions that the Buckeyes missed opportunities. And they missed them because, for the most part, Clemson made the stops. Your opponent gets in the red zone, you have to take it to the next level defensively and either force a FG or get a turnover. Clemson did that. It wasn't a fluke. I know there was another controversy about whether or not Dobbins broke the plane on one of those possessions, but the point is they made the play to keep him from definitively getting into the end zone. The other side of the coin is, it is unreasonable to deny the effect of questionable calls on the course of the game. The targeting call deprived the Buckeyes of their starting cornerback. It keeps the Clemson drive alive and swings the momentum in their favor. The no-catch-no-fumble overturn took points off the board. Put six points back up and, all else being the same, you end up tied in regulation. Add the PAT and you've got seven points, enough for the win. There is no way anyone will convince me that those calls didn't have a decisive effect on the game's outcome.
Those stops didn't just happen on their own. Clemson made the plays and made them happen. Your opponent gets into your red zone, you have to at least keep them out of the end zone and force them to take three instead of six, or stop them completely (like with an INT). Clemson did that. There's no sense kidding ourselves. We were whipping their butts but they rose up and made the stops. That said, it is also unrealistic to deny the effect of bad or questionable calls. Bad calls are part of the game, I know, and you have to do your best to work through them, but they add an extra burden that you otherwise would not have to bear.
Poster reeldoc above was kind enough to post the wording of the rule: "Secures control of a live ball in flight before the ball touches the ground, and touches the ground in bounds with any part of his body, and then maintains control of the ball long enough to enable him to perform an act common to the game, i.e., long enough to pitch or hand the ball, advance it, avoid or ward off an opponent, etc." It is important to note that the rule does not say the player HAS TO "perform an act common to the game", its sets a time limit for which he has to control the ball, that is, enough time to make a subsequent act. Whether or not the player performs such an act is not the determining factor, only having control of the ball for a time long enough to enable (note, enable, not actually perform) the player to do so. By that standard, it shades the decision a bit in favor of the catch-and-fumble interpretation. I saw one of the officials say they thought the ball was coming loose in the player's grasp. The question then is, how long between when the player made the catch and when the "loosening" occurred? From what I saw, it was not definitive proof that the pass was incomplete, which was the ruling enforced after review. That tends to go against the idea that lacking definitive proof for the overturn, the ruling on the field stands (catch and fumble).