It’s easy to be a “Monday Morning Quarterback” and question a decision after it doesn’t work, but I actually thought Oregon was making the wrong moves while the National Championship Game was going on. Sure, they were getting blown off the ball consistently by Auburn, but the Tigers were not overwhelmingly the better team. Auburn was clearly more powerful than Oregon, but I wouldn’t say they were much better. Honestly, I think you can point to two bad decisions towards the end of the game that cost Oregon a better chance at winning it.
The first bad decision by the Ducks came late in the third quarter when they had a 4th and goal at the one and they lined up in the shotgun. My initial reaction was to take the field goal to get five down instead of eight. They had a whole quarter left to go and easily could have come back to take the lead. While I would have taken the field goal, I didn’t think going for the touchdown was a horrible idea. The problem is from that distance, my favorite play is the quarterback sneak. If they ran the sneak, I would have agreed with the call, but instead they lined up from the shotgun and had their play stuffed. Had they taken the field goal, the game likely would have ended up in overtime.
The next bad decision is one we’ve talked about before on the site, and it has to do with strategy. When time is ticking down and it appears as if your opponent will have a field goal attempt to win the game, it makes more sense to let them score and allow yourself plenty of time to match them. It’s a strategy Lane Kiffin said he employs, and one with which we agree. As it turned out, Auburn was able to set up for a 19-yard field goal as time expired. Once Michael Dyer broke the 37-yard run to the 23, Oregon should have just let Auburn score so they could get the ball back with 1:30 left and the field to go.
By employing that strategy, Oregon could have taken its powerless feeling away and put matters back into their hands. There aren’t many feelings worse than feeling powerless at the end of a game, and that’s exactly what happened with the Ducks. Oregon’s coaches made some great calls during the game, but those two decisions hurt them.