Using the model, the researchers found that if the ball is leaning to the left or right, it will affect the trajectory of the football. And the more it leans, the more pronounced the effect, which is the result of complex interactions between the rotational motion and aerodynamic forces acting on the football.
“For example,” Mazzoleni says, “if the ball is tilted 20 degrees to the left for a 45 yard field goal attempt, it will sail up to 3.5 feet to the left before hooking back to the right.” And any football fan can tell you that 3.5 feet can be the difference between winning and losing. (Just ask the University of Nebraska.)
The paper’s abstract indicates they checked with real results
A case study was performed for which experimental data were available, showing the trends of the flight of the ball captured in our simulations in actual game situations.
The title is a quote attributed to Garo Yepremian, a pretty good kicker who played for several teams from ’66 to’81, including the ’72 Dolphins. Sorry, Garo, the holder is blameless for that horrible decision to try and pass the ball in Super Bowl VII.