After spending my entire day doing nothing but watch college football -- it's a tough life, but somebody has to do it -- I saw a few coaching decisions today that completely baffled me. First we'll start with the end of the Michigan State/Wisconsin game. With the Spartans trailing by two in the closing seconds, quarterback Brian Hoyer found B.J. Cunningham open for a short pass to the Wisconsin 27-yard line. The problem was, with only 22 seconds left, the Spartans had no timeouts left.
So a fire drill ensued as Michigan State rushed to get it's field goal unit on the field in time to attempt a game-winning field goal, then for some reason with 12 seconds left, Bret Bielema and the Badgers called a timeout. It allowed the Spartans to relax and get set, and Brett Swenson booted the game-winner shortly after.
Up until the end of the fourth quarter of Notre Dame's game against the Pitt Panthers, it was the dumbest move I'd seen all day. The Irish and Panthers were tied at 24 with Notre Dame driving for a game-winning field goal. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, Pittsburgh put a stop to the drive at midfield, and the Irish had a fourth and 1 with under a minute to play.
Then, for some reason known only to Charlie Weis and possibly Touchdown Jesus, Weis called for a timeout and decided to go for it. Why he didn't just punt the ball and force the Panthers to go the length of the field, we'll never know. Maybe Charlie fell under the spell of the Wannstache? Maybe he was just too confident?
Whatever the case was, pride does go before the fall. The Irish weren't able to convert the fourth down, and suddenly Pitt had the ball at midfield with under a minute left in the game and a timeout.
Thankfully David Bruton intercepted a pass to end the threat and force overtime, but without Weis' baffling decision things could have been much different. You see, had the Irish punted and pinned Pitt deep, the Bruton interception would have been made inside Pittsburgh territory. The Irish would have had the ball around the 40 with two timeouts left, which would have been plenty of time to set up a game-winning kick.
Instead the game went to overtime, where despite the best efforts of kicker Brandon Walker -- he nailed a clutch 48-yarder to force a fourth overtime and tie a career long -- the Irish fell 36-33.
While I don't like seeing the Irish lose, when they're beat by a better team it's one thing. When they're beaten by themselves, it's another story entirely. A story that could have just cost them a possible BCS bowl.