Going for two and the win
In the midst of a plethora of college football bowl games being played this week, many Michigan fans are feeling wistful as they have been left home for the second straight year after having played in a bowl game for the previous 33 consecutive seasons. The 2009 Wolverines (5-7) fell one victory shy of qualifying for a bowl game. Looking back over the season, many Michigan fans look back at the overtime loss to Michigan State as the best missed opportunity for the Wolverines to have picked up an additional victory. Michigan had scored a TD with a mere :02 seconds left on the game clock to pull the Wolverines within one. Coaching conservatively, Coach Rod called for the extra point to go for the tie and send the game into overtime. Ultimately, MSU beat Michigan 26-20 in the overtime. In the post-game press conference, Coach Rod said going for two at the end of regulation was never a consideration. Granting that hindsight is 20/20, the better decision may have been to go for two. Michigan was on the road, QB Tate Forcier was exhausted, and the Wolverines had the momentum. Following are three examples (not all of which were successful) of games where the coach decided to go for two and the win.
1984 Orange Bowl
#1 Nebraska (12-0) was playing Miami (Fla.) for the National Championship. The Cornhuskers rallied from a 31-17 deficit and cut the Hurricanes' lead to 31-30 by scoring a TD with :48 remaining in regulation. Rather than go for the tie (there was no OT back then), Nebraska Head Coach Tom Osborne put his title hopes on the line when he went for the two-point conversion.
2007 Fiesta Bowl
Underdog Boise State pulled out all the stops versus traditional power Oklahoma and eventually forced the game into overtime. Down 42-41 in the OT, Broncos' Head Coach Chris Peterson called for a two-point conversion to go for the win. Coach Peterson called a Statue of Liberty play and the rest is history.
2009 Humanitarian Bowl
Idaho Vandals Head Coach Robb Akey made the call to go for two and the win against Bowling Green after the Vandals scored a TD to pull within one with :04 remaining in regulation. Coach Akey's decision paid off as the Vandals converted giving Idaho a 43-42 victory.
There is no doubt that Coach Rod thinks he was right in kicking the extra-point and going for the overtime against MSU. However, as shown by the examples above, sometimes a Head Coach needs to throw caution to the wind and go for the win. If Coach Rod had been able to pull out a win versus MSU, the Wolverines would be playing in a bowl game right now. Instead, Wolverine fans are relegated to wondering "What if" while other Big 10 teams (including 6-6 MSU) play in bowl games. Go Blue!