Forty names, games, teams and minutiae that make the news in college football (“You Play To Win The Game” commemorative videos sold separately in Tempe):
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END GAME HORRORS
There have been 67 one-touchdown games so far this season, which seems to be on par with most years. But it seems like we’ve had an inordinate amount of games where defenses couldn’t hold the lead, or the kicking game didn’t work right at the critical moment, or the penalty flags waved at the wrong time, or the coaches temporarily lost. your senses.
In other words, as many close games have been lost What won. And sometimes even winners are shaken to their core by how hard they tried to lose.
First example of the latter: Notre-Dame (21) on Saturday. Rookie coach Marcus Freeman seemed like he was barely hiding his pain as his team’s seven-point lead over California grew increasingly in jeopardy in the last minute. “I keep trying to tell myself to enjoy it,” he said afterwards, but I didn’t immediately enjoy how close the Fighting Irish came to an 0-3 start.
After rallying in the fourth quarter to take a 24-17 lead, the Irish sent in their strong defense to secure the win with 1:03 left. Sure enough, Clarence Lewis intercepted the first pass of Cal’s possession, which would have ended it, but linebacker JD Bertrand, a veteran playing in his 27th college game, inexplicably targeted the Golden Bears receiver on the play, nullifying the interception and keeping the game. In doubt. Six plays later, Cal got a game of inches when quarterback Jack Plummer was correctly ruled out milliseconds before serving what would have been a game-ending fumble. That left Cal time for one last play.
Plummer’s Ave Maria into the end zone should have been shot down. Instead, veteran safety Brandon Joseph, playing in his 28th college game, twice tried to catch the ball instead of hitting it on the turf, twice getting it snatched out of his hands to keep it in play. After the second carom, the ball landed on the body of Cal receiver Jeremiah Hunter, who nearly caught it while he was lying on his back in the end zone.
Bottom line: Even veteran players are young enough to do things that are difficult to understand with the game in play.
There are a multitude of other plays, oh-no-they-didn’t, that didn’t end so well. The pressure on players, coaches and officials in these games is significant and can affect performance. Dash’s brief compendium of game losing breakdowns, as he wonders if anyone can finish a game without it dissolving into panic and chaos:
Purdue (22) he probably set some kind of record at Syracuse on Saturday by finding a way to screw up what would have been a great comeback win. After taking a four-point lead with 51 seconds remaining, the Boilermakers were handed two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that pushed the ensuing kickoff to their own 10-yard line. That gave the Orange the ball in midfield after the return. But Purdue was just getting started.
There was a call waiting on third and ten. Then a third and 10 interference call. Garrett Shrader then completed his only pass of the series, a 25-yard pass with seven seconds left to a receiver who was somehow covered and went deep quite easily against a defense that should have been covering the goal line. . After that, there was a Purdue offside penalty that was disallowed and two more personal fouls on the Boilermakers that were accepted.
Seven penalties, six accepted, in the last minute of play. While at least one of the flags was questionable, Purdue has a responsibility to shut up and play. Which coach Jeff Brohm acknowledged on Monday. “The talk has to stop,” said Brohm. “We just have to be very, very true to the book and keep our mouths shut and train and play football.”
Iowa State (23) he did his part to keep rival Iowa and its rickety offense in the game until the final play on September 10. The Hawkeyes had a final possession in the final half minute, and the Cyclones contributed an offside and personal foul to help Iowa get on the field. goal range Iowa missed the game-ending 48-yard kick, which is part of another subset of late-game calamities.
Special equipment disasters:
LSU (24) He nearly pulled a rabbit out of his hat against Florida State in the season opener, only to have the tying extra point blocked on the final play. Of course, this followed two missed punts and a blocked field goal earlier. (The Tigers were on the receiving end of a crucial special teams error Saturday against Mississippi State, when the Bulldogs missed a punt inside their own 10-yard line for a six-point lead.)
South Florida (25) It was nine plays in a really good drive for a possible tying field goal in the last minute against Florida, keeping hopes alive for what would certainly have been the biggest win of Jeff Scott’s coaching career. The center then grounded out in shotgun formation, resulting in a 14-yard loss, and USF opted for a conservative run on third-and-20 that thrust the onus on kicker Spencer Shrader’s shoulders. Still, he had a chance from 49 yards, and the starter dropped the snap. Shrader followed up with the kick and came miraculously close, but the game was lost.
East Carolina (26) he had a couple of #CollegeKicker moments late to derail an upset from North Carolina State in the season opener. Owen Daffer hooked the tying extra point wide left with 2:58 remaining (the starter gave him the laces, a no-no) and then drove the game-winning field goal wide right from 41 yards with five seconds remaining.
South Alabama (27) he fooled himself at UCLA on Saturday, contributing to a missed opportunity for another upset in the Sun Belt Conference this season. With a 31-29 lead and three minutes to go, the Jaguars lined up for a 39-yard field goal and then went to normal play. Ultimately, nothing was regular about it: Coach Kane Wommack put the ball in the hands of starter/third quarterback Tanner McGee, who threw a pass for the last time in 2020; he sent the deep kicker on a passing route; he had a wing blocker and a tackle on the right side of the line who looked bewildered and completely surprised as UCLA running backs ran past them. Bottom line: An 11-yard sack and loss that paved the way for the Bruins’ game-winning field goal.
Wommack told a Mobile radio station Monday that if he had the 4-and-2 to do it over again, he would have done it in a more conventional way, like with his starting offense on the field. Wommack said standout running back La’Damian Webb had cramped up, but there were other options beyond the multi-level debacle he walked away with.
Troy (28) Similarly, he found a way to outdo himself while trying to hold on to a late road lead. The Trojans were up 28-24 over Appalachian State when coach Jon Sumrall opted for an intentional safety instead of kicking from his own end zone. While that put the Mountaineers within a field goal of victory, more important might have been the decision to block Troy’s ensuing free throw from the 20-yard line. Troy’s average kickoff length the previous season had been 63 yards, and this one went just 46, and he returned 13 yards on top of that, negating any advantage to the squib. That put App State within sentence range in the ensuing Hail Mary, and we all know how that ended.
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This has been the biggest culprit for lost late-game leads, as teams seem to struggle to find the right approach: soft coverage that gives up too much ground underneath, or more aggressive coverage that can deliver deep plays. But hey, it’s not just a college thing. NFL teams blew several leads Sunday when their defenses couldn’t get off the field.
Defenses staged joint collapses in the fourth quarter at Purdue-Syracuse, and even more so at App State-North Carolina. But those are not the only examples.
State of Florida (29) giving up 99 yards to a previously desperate LSU offense in the final run at the Superdome was certainly something to behold. (That crash was saved by the PAT block mentioned above.) And the teams that play Indiana (30) they’ve conspired to keep the Hoosiers 3-0 with a couple of late defensive flops.
After going 21-for-42 against the Illinois defense, Connor Bazelak completed seven of his next nine passes to march Indiana inside the 10-yard line and set up the game-winning touchdown with 23 seconds remaining. Then on Saturday, Western Kentucky repeated the role of Illinois in keeping Indiana undefeated by giving up a 90-yard drive to tie the score in the final minute, including four penalties (one was disallowed).
“It’s hard to win football games,” Freeman said Saturday, after finally winning one. It seems to be getting harder and harder to try to protect a late lead.
MORE DASH: Urban Spec | Return of investment