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Staples: Where does Kirby Smart's timeout rank among the top 10 PCP calls?

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If Kirby Smart didn’t have called first time from georgia of the second half with 8:58 remaining in Saturday’s Peach Bowl, the bulldogs probably would have lost and ohio state would go play TOS for the national title in Los Angeles.

The timeout scuttled a fake punt on quarters and inches that absolutely would have worked*. Georgia was not lined up in any way that could have stopped the fake. The conversion would have allowed Ohio State – which was leading by 11 at the time – to bleed more clock and potentially add to the lead. Georgia probably would have run out of time instead of Stetson Bennet hit AD Mitchell and Jack Podlesny add the dot after to the green light with 54 seconds remaining.

*Unless officials noticed Ohio State had 12 players on the field. But that’s not something they seemed to notice in real time, so Smart’s latency was probably still pretty critical..

Smart’s timeout was one of the biggest calls in college football playoff history, but it wasn’t the biggest. Today we’ll be ranking the top 10 calls – fully aware that Sonny Dykes of Smart or TCU might have to make an even heavier one in a week when their teams meet for the national title.

No. 10: Targeting tight ends — Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson

In a shortened 2020 regular season in the Big Ten, Ohio State tight ends Jeremy Ruckert and Luke Farrell combined for three touchdown catches. Against Clemson In a Sugar Bowl semifinal, Ruckert and Farrell combined for three first-half touchdowns.

Clemson was leading 14-7 when Farrell caught that grown man pass with a pass from Justin Fields to third base.

Day and Wilson continued to play against Tendency in the second quarter as Clemson spent resources trying to cover the Buckeyes’ elite receivers. Fields connected twice with Ruckert for touchdowns during the quarter, and Ohio State went into the 35-14 break before earning their first CFP victory since the national title game after the 2014 season.

No. 9: Have cruisers as hot targets when under pressure – TCU offensive coordinator Garrett Riley

Sometimes a quarterback’s options are erased by a free rusher. That’s what happened at Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl twice when Michigan forced pressure Horned Frogs QB Max Dugan backtrack and unload on his hot receiver.

On a second-and-goal play in the second quarter, two Wolverines broke free and chased Duggan back. Duggan calmly returned the ball to Taye Barberwhich ran from left to right behind the area that the rushers had left.

The most significant version of that came in the fourth quarter with TCU facing third-and-seventh and clinging to a three-point lead after Michigan conceded a touchdown on a Horned Frogs fumble. Michigan Safety Rod Moore forced Duggan to backpedal to avoid a sack. Duggan’s only option was a throw to Quentin Johnson, who hadn’t crossed the line to win but – like Barber earlier – had room because Moore had left the area to blitz. The end result was a 76-yard touchdown that put TCU back in control.

No. 8: A pop pass for the ages – Tony Elliott, Clemson offensive coordinator

Clemson trailed by two in 2019 Fiesta Bowl against Buckeyes, but point guard Elliott – now VirginiaThe Ohio State head coach knew tailback Travis Etienne could force his way through Ohio State’s talent-laden defense if he received the ball with some space around him. Etienne had done just that earlier in the second half when he took a drop from Trevor Lawrence for a 53-yard touchdown that gave Clemson a brief lead.

Even earlier, Lawrence drove through the Ohio State defense for a 67-yard touchdown. Elliott played on the Buckeyes’ fear of Lawrence’s legs by sending him to the line of scrimmage as if planning to run. This drew the Ohio State linebackers to the line of scrimmage and allowed Etienne to sneak in. Lawrence threw the ball to Etienne, and Etienne lit the jets for the go-ahead. Clemson would win 29-23.

No. 7: The Joey Bosa/Darron Lee twist — Ohio State defensive co-coordinators Luke Fickell and Chris Ash

Seeing future first-rounder Joey Bosa standing in a two-point position slightly outside the line of scrimmage was probably disconcerting for AlabamaHis offensive line on that third-and-6 play from the Ohio State 40-yard line in the first CFP after the 2014 season. The Buckeyes badly needed a save in the Sugar Bowl. They led by six, but Alabama could gain momentum with a score.

So Fickell and Ash started Bosa in an unusual place. Then Bosa turned left. Alabama center Ryan Kelly passed Bosa back to fullback Jalston Fowler, but Kelly lost his footing in the process. That allowed linebacker Darron Lee, who was circling behind Bosa and heading directly into the middle of Alabama’s offense, to throw a run from quarterback Blake Sims and force a punt.

Four games later, it happened for the eventual national champion Buckeyes.

No. 6: Aim for the basket instead of kneeling – Georgia head coach Kirby Smart

If we were to make a list of the most criticized calls in CFP history, then that would include-Oklahoma Coach Lincoln Riley’s pick of a firecracker kick after a touchdown* that took the Sooners’ lead to 31-14 with six seconds left in the first half of the Rose Bowl against Georgia after the season 2017.

*On a play that would later be directed by the Eagles in the Super Bowl and forever known as the Philly Special.

The kick never took off, and Georgia recovered at Oklahoma’s 47-yard line with three seconds left. It was probably only time for a jump in the end zone. Or, if Smart had simply wanted the Bulldogs to lick their wounds, he could have had his team take a knee.

Instead, Georgia ran a play. QB Jake Fromm hit Terry Godwin for a 9-yard gain. Georgia called timeout with a second left and sent Rodrigo Blankenship for that 55-yard field goal.

So much still had to happen for Georgia to win this game in two overtimes. But that won’t happen if the Bulldogs decide to head to the locker room instead of trying to use those last three seconds.

No. 5: Call timeout before fake punt that definitely would have worked – Kirby Smart

Teams have multiple headset channels, including one for offense, one for defense, and one for special teams. As Ohio State lined up for that fake punt, Georgia assistants were talking on the Special Teams Channel about a fake potential. Smart didn’t hear that, though. “I was on the defensive line because we had just come out of a defensive stop,” Smart said. But Smart acknowledged that Ohio State’s lineup was tighter than usual. Something is wrong.

“They just weren’t in their traditional formation,” Smart said. “A lot of teams carry that speed break. They go up the line quickly. Everyone is well aligned. And we saw it in the SEC. A lot of teams wear it and you try to practice it, but it’s something else when they actually do it and execute it. So it was one of those knee jerk reactions that I didn’t think we lined it up properly to stop it.

So before Ohio State could crack the ball — and possibly get away with a fake 12-man punt — Smart sprinted over to Chief Linesman Darryl Johnson and called for a time. dead.

No. 4: A Sky Kick to steal possession in the national title game – Nick Saban, Alabama head coach

No one had done to the Alabama defense in 2015 what Clemson and quarterback Deshaun Watson were doing to the Crimson Tide when the teams faced off in the first of three national title clashes in four seasons.

So after Alabama kicker Adam Griffith forged a 24-24 tie with a 33-yard field goal with 10:34 remaining, Saban decided he had to try to give his defense a break. Saban had noticed on pre-game film that Clemson was regrouping his blockers on kickoff returns to one side of the field. When Clemson did the same on the opening kickoffs of the game, Saban knew he had a gun in his back pocket.

Alabama had practiced a Sky Kick — a high kick meant to be caught by an Alabama player — during the week. The only problem was that cornerback Marlon Humphrey rarely caught him in practice.

But Humphrey caught him in the game. Saban’s smile after the play said it all.

Two plays later, Alabama QB Jake Coker hit tight end OJ Howard for a 51-yard touchdown. The Tide was finally able to breathe and they took a 45-40 victory.

No. 3: Orange Crush – Clemson co-offensive coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott

Elliott was the game’s main caller in 2016, but it was Scott who suggested that particular rubbing play near the goal line with the national title on the line. Call it offensive pass interference if you like, but the officials did not.

Artavis Scott cleared the space against Alabama. Hunter Renfrow opened up. Watson delivered the ball.

No. 2: Deepening second and 26 — Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll

What do you do after your opponent hits a field goal bomb in overtime and your true freshman quarterback takes one of the most hidden sacks in sack history? You tell this real freshman to forget what just happened, line up, and throw it deep at another freshman.

That’s exactly what Daboll – now the head coach of the New York Giants – did, and Tua Tagovailoa found the eventual Heisman Trophy winner. DeVonta Smith to beat Georgia and win the 2017 national title.

No. 1: Put the child – Saban

Because that pass doesn’t get if Saban throws don’t wow everyone by lifting Jalen Hurts and inserting Tagovailoa to start the third quarter.

All of these calls took courage, but this one took the most.

(Kirby Smart Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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