They say that football is a game of inches and that saying could not have held more true yesterday. Across the country there were exciting games in college football and several decided by the smallest of margins. What games in Auburn, Alabama and Ann Arbor, Michigan did was create a potential nightmare for the BCS in its’ final year.
Auburn Beats Bama
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing anymore than you could as Tigers’ defensive back Chris Davis returned Bama’s missed field goal attempt 109 yards to give Auburn a 34-28 win. The play never would have happened had Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon been ruled out of bounds on the game’s last play but it was ruled there was to be one second left.
Crimson Tide kicker Cade Foster had already missed two kicks and had another blocked so Nick Saban chose to go with back-up kicker Adam Griffith for a 56-yard field goal. It was a poor decision in hindsight simply because of the result but what few coaches remember is that field goal units are comprised almost entirely of linemen, a kicker and a holder.
In other words, very little speed is on the field. Secondly, Auburn had a fantastic play designed for the short attempt. Much like a punt return, the Tigers immediately established a ‘wall’ on the left for Davis to run behind. With little speed and a wall of blockers, Davis was home free.
Saban will regret the decision but he will also have to wonder what might have been. Twice the Tide moved inside the Tigers’ 20 yard line and came away with nothing. Once they were turned away on downs when Yeldon was stopped inches short and then they missed a field goal. Any points at all would have given the Tide a two-score lead in the fourth but it wasn’t to be.
Buckeyes Survive in the Big House
There have been many, many epic games between rivals Ohio State and Michigan but the game played yesterday could easily go down as one of the all-time greats. If you like offense, this game was for you. Ohio State’s unbeaten season remained after a Michigan two-point conversion attempt was intercepted with :32 remaining. That gave the Buckeyes a 42-41 win.
The decision by Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke should not be questioned. He knew Ohio State had been moving the ball at will against his defense and he was using a back-up kicker. Getting into an overtime battle with the Buckeyes made Michigan a decided underdog.
The problem with the two-point conversion wasn’t the decision, it was the play. The Wolverines lined up to go for two with two receivers wide right and then a receiver in motion to the right creating a ‘trips’ formation with a running back next to Devin Gardner in the shotgun. Upon seeing the set-up, OSU Head Coach Urban Meyer called timeout.
Strangely enough, Michigan came back with the exact same formation. The Buckeyes had it covered like a blanket on a bed and Gardner couldn’t find anyone open. Despite winning, doubts were created about just how good the Buckeyes are. They surrendered over 600 yards in offense to a Michigan team that has struggled mightily to move the ball over the last few weeks. That might not sit well with pollsters.
Where things sit now seems quite simple. If both Florida State and Ohio State win their respective conference championship games, then they will meet in Pasadena for the final BCS Title. There are what-ifs however.
What if Missouri routs Auburn in the SEC Title game? Or what if Auburn whips Missouri? Each has one loss to top SEC teams. Can Alabama slip back in to one of the final two spots if there are upsets in the Big Ten and ACC Title Games?
Stay tuned because this thing is far from over.