Saturday, September 15, 2007

UCF vs Texas

As I mentioned two weeks ago, UCF won on the road in its opener and was opening a new stadium. Texas came in after two uninspired performances and was ripe for the upset. Here are some observations:

1) The ball is not round. UCF trailed by 5 late in the game when UCF's QB fumbled the ball after running for a first down. The ball squirted out of the QB's hand and nearly went out of bounds when it suddenly reversed course and rolled back onto the field where it was picked up by a Texas defender. It was a critical turn of events that can only happen in football.

2) Mack Brown does not understand math. Brown went for 2 with an 11 point lead with 3 minutes left. When you are down by 12 or 13, you are guaranteed to need 2 TDs. When you are down by 11, a FG, TD and 2 point conversion will do it. For this reason, many people will claim that Mack Brown is an idiot. In his defense, Brown was probably hoping to make the margin of victory look bigger against UCF. But, it would have cost Texas if UCF could have recovered the onside kick at the end of the game.

3) George O'Leary pulled a Denny Green. This refers to Dennis Green's decision in 1997 to Punt on 4th and Long with 2 minutes left in the NFC Wild Card Game when trailing by 10 points. It paid off for the Vikings who got the ball back and won 23-22. O'Leary punted on 4th and 22 with 2 minutes left and also got the ball back. UCF pulled within 3 points with 35 seconds left, but couldn't recover the onside kick and lost the game.

While I certainly understand the criticism of O'Leary and Green in both cases, my question is, is it ever OK to punt when trailing that late in the game? What about if you had 4th and 50? If the only play available to you was a hail mary, would you always take the hail mary? I haven't run the numbers, but I'd be curious to know how often a team fumbles with the lead late in the game or fails to pick up one first down, so that the punting strategy is somewhat justifiable. 4th and 22 is a pretty tough down to convert, but it still seems like a higher percentage play then punting and getting the ball back.

Other Games
I didn't watch much else college football Saturday, but glancing at the box scores, the following is apparent.

-Great week for the Sun Belt. Friday, Troy beat Oklahoma St. and Saturday, Florida Atlantic forced seven Minnesota turnovers and beat the Gophers.

-Minnesota replaces Iowa St. as the worst BCS team having lost to both a Sun Belt and MAC team, and Minnesota's only win was an overtime home win against a MAC team. Meanwhile, Iowa St. broke through with a win against Iowa. Syracuse and Duke have mostly lost to BCS competitition so I cut them some slack.

-South Florida's win at Auburn looks a little less impressive after Mississippi St. also won at Auburn this week. That said, it was nice to see Sylvester Croom pick up a rare SEC win for Mississippi St.

-Obvious comment of the week: Notre Dame has zero offensive TDS this year. Yikes.

-How did Utah crush UCLA this week? Does this mean Air Force is the MWC favorite having beaten Utah and TCU?

I'll be back with the conference cup standings tommorrow and any comments on the late games.