ASK CFN - The Big Late Touchdowns
Boston College QB Matt Ryan
Boston College QB Matt Ryan
Posted Oct 26, 2007

Analyzing the late game heroics of Matt Ryan and Boston College over Virginia Tech compared to the way LSU beat Auburn, looking at the history of the BCS, and how many teams ended as well in the rankings as they started, and much more in the latest ASK CFN.

By Pete Fiutak
Fire over your questions to me at I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

Hmmmmm. Third down. Shaky kicker. Down in the game. Boston College goes for a touchdown pass over trying to get into better field goal position, and you’re probably going to praise the call and the play while saying Matt Ryan should get the Heisman. Meanwhile, you spent an entire first part of your Cavalcade of Whimsy calling the Les Miles call at the end of the Auburn game dumb. Yeah, the situations were sort of different, but are you going to be consistent and call Ryan and the BC coach dumb for doing that? – LR

A: I love CFN readers. I really, really do. I had the exact same thought as it happened, and sure enough, it wasn’t five minutes after Andre Callender caught the game-winning touchdown pass and I got seven e-mails from LSU fans. There are a few reasons why it was different, and why it wasn’t a bad play like the call at the end of the Auburn – LSU game. First, LSU was down one at home and BC was down three on the road. Had LSU been down three, I’d have had less of a problem going for the win. My problem is that it was an unnecessary risk, but more on that in a moment. Second, the Virginia Tech D line was gassed and Ryan was in a dream of a zone. No offense to Matt Flynn, who threw a perfect pass to beat Auburn, but Ryan is a possible number one overall draft pick. You put the game in his hands, especially if he's in an epic groove like he got into. Finally, and most importantly for this discussion, it seemed like BC was looking for better field position for a field goal, or at least with an option of getting in better range, but Ryan found his open receiver in the end zone and made a throw that, maybe, five college quarterbacks could hit.

Past ASK CFNs ...  
- Should USC be in the title hunt?
- The best RB you don't know
- What's wrong with Texas A&M? 
- How bad is the Big Ten?
- Will Miles run to Michigan?
- Supersized Season Premier of ASK CFN
 The most loved & hated teams
- Is Miami still a power?
- CFN's West Virginia ranking
- Is Booty Heisman-worthy?
- The USC Schedule
- The Big Ten Network
- The most underrated head coach
- The Top Ten NFL receiver prospects 

- Why did Brady Quinn slide?
- The Virginia Tech situation

- Creating a MWest-WAC super-league
Mid-majors who should be in the bigs
The potential new superpower
The 5 best coaching jobs
March Madness for football?
Potential Bowl Shockers
Tim Brewster?
Fox's BCS broadcasts
- Is Brady really better than Russell?
Hot & Cold Bowl Programs
- How ineffective was Reggie Ball?
- A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

How are you possibly criticizing Les Miles for his call that beat Auburn? If you noticed, there would’ve still been plenty of time left on the clock to call a time out had the pass been incomplete, and going for the touchdown was the right move considering Colt David is hardly a lock to hit a 40 yarder. I’m stunned anyone is dogging Miles for this! – Tiger Fan

A: Of all the e-mails I received about my criticism of the play call at the end of the Auburn – LSU game, 98% of the ones who backed Miles were from LSU fans, and almost 100% of those e-mails argued my point for me.

It was a bad call that just so happened to work, and here’s why. If David is such a shaky kicker, and the 40-yarder is no gimme, then you either go for the first down, or you try for a few more yards to get into better range. It might not seem like it, but there’s a world of difference between a 35-yard field goal and a 40-yarder. Several things could’ve happened on the unnecessary pass into the end zone, and outside of pass interference, only one of them is good. 1) Touchdown LSU. 2) Batted away, likely one second left, 40-yard field goal attempt. 3) Bobbled, batted, dropped and time runs out. Half of Bayou nation calls for Miles’ head. 4) Interception. Half of Bayou nation calls for Miles’ head. 5) Sack, quick time out, David has to hit a bomb. 6) Sack, time runs out.

Most of the Miles apologists on the call are trying to have it both ways. If you’re saying it was a great call because there’d still be time to go for the field goal if it didn’t work, then you still have the 40-yarder from David. At the same time, you can’t say it was the right call because David is shaky. Which is it? You can’t have it both ways. Had LSU been down three, I would’ve given the call a free pass because Miles would be going for the win. But down one, it was a careless, unnecessarily risky call.

Yes I’m a homer.  Just wanted to know if you will give Colt Brennan some love if Hawaii beats Boise and Washington at the end of the year.  Or, does Colt have to have an amazing (lights out) game to beat them to gain some respect from you guys. Mahalo, - KP

A: Do you even read the site? We’ve been pumping Brennan up since last year. Colt himself has thanked us for the publicity, respect and attention. He’s having a great senior year, but he’s not having the same season as last year with more interceptions, but he’s pulling some rabbits out of his hat. He held tough in two key road overtime games, and he gutted it out through some injuries. Right now, he’s in the Heisman chase, but not like he was expected to be considering the awful schedule. If I’m Hawaii, I’m just as worried about Fresno State, and I’m in a cold sweat about the trip to Nevada, along with dates with the Broncos and Huskies.

It's amazing how all the so-called experts focus on style points rather than winning when discussing Hawaii.  On the road, thousands of miles from home and in conference games are very difficult to win.  Ask Cal and LSU about conference road games.  I understand the competition isn't as difficult as other schools' but no one's arguing they should be No. 1.  The goal of the game is to win and Hawaii has done that.  The fact that so many in the media are complaining about the lack of style shows how badly we need a playoff.  Some of the same people who complain about Hawaii's schedule also don't want a playoff.  What do they want?  Do you think that a 12-0 Hawaii team get's a BCS invite? – JT

A: “Competition isn’t as difficult?!” You think? It’s one thing to lose on the road at Kentucky, Colorado, or Penn State, but it’s another to struggle with Louisiana Tech and San Jose State, who between them have three wins over FBS teams (New Mexico State for Tech and Utah State and Idaho for San Jose State). It’s easy to throw out the term style points like it’s a bad thing, but in reality, it’s all about actually watching the teams play. I love watching the Warriors, but they’re fighting to finish in the top four, and that’s being generous, if they’re in any of the BCS conferences. With that said, if they go 12-0, yeah, get them a BCS game. Remember, the BCS isn’t a playoff. If you’re talking about putting them in the championship, then I have a problem. If you’re talking about putting them in the Fiesta Bowl against an Oklahoma or Missouri, then yeah, I’d love to see it. If they go 12-0, they’ll be in the BCS because they’ll almost certainly finish in the top 12 of the rankings meaning they’re automatically in.

Wow, so you had USC ranked 10 in week 6, but then they win and you drop then 7 places?
So we all agree this team does not look as sharp thus far compared to pre-season expectations (and I think 10 or so injuries to starters/co-starters are only a part of the story, I think there is a much bigger issue with young players not developing as fast as expected), ... but they are still the most talented team in the country with some of the best coaching around and could very well turn things around, get some of the players back and make another title run this year. I expect this kind of overreaction from guys like Corso ... but not from you guys. Think rationally here!   You guys are acting like spurned lovers ... – S

A: Have you actually seen USC play? Rankings-wise, it’s getting by on brand name so far, and any rational pollster has to look past the uniforms and go by what’s actually happening (and don’t get fired up over a win against a miserable Notre Dame). Sorry, but this hasn’t been a top ten team so far. However, a major bout with injuries has been the main reason, so as the team gets healthier, then it might start to play like the team everyone pegged as the automatic No. 1 when the season began. Beat Oregon in Autzen, and then the ranking goes right back up. It’s O.K. to yo-yo a ranking based on how a team is playing at the moment. That’s what you’re supposed to do.
I’d emailed you earlier this year asking if you’d been getting bombarded by my West Virginia brethren when you didn’t kiss our butt over something.  I’m curious now, are you getting bombed with love since you now have us going to the title game? – RW

A: One thing I’ve learned in roughly ten years of doing this for CFN is that once a fan base thinks I’m biased, nothing makes it right for a long, long time. I’m still waiting for my first “your a genius” e-mail for making the call that the Mountaineers are going to play for the national title after receiving hundreds of angry e-mails, with dozens of “your an idiot” headers, from WVU fans after I said at the beginning of the year that their team was overrated.

I didn’t say that Mountaineers are going to play for the national title because I care about them, or like them, or am looking for any West Virginia love, just like I didn’t mean any disrespect or have anything against them when I said at the beginning of the year that I wasn’t sold on the O line and defense. As I said until I was blue and gold in the face, our overall ranking at the beginning of the year was based on all the uncertainty at several key spots, but that if things turned out fine on the front five and the defense, the ranking would be changed accordingly. It’s all about adapting and adjusting as things happen when it comes to analyzing teams.

I totally disagree about making the computers more important than the humans.  Maybe we need to get different humans, but computers are only as good as the people who program them.  So instead of dozens of humans who vote in the polls, you've got six humans who are playing computer games. If you want to take the vote away from the coaches, I couldn't agree more.  But give them to humans who pay attention.  Not to computers. – TF

A: There needs to be a better mix in the BCS rankings. I’m a big fan of the computers because they take the entire season into account, and not just what’s happening at the moment. As we all know, it’s all about when you lose. If LSU lost to Kentucky late in the year, it’d probably be out of the national title hunt according to the human polls. Lose early, and you’re still in. The computers don’t care when you lose; they just care about what has happened on the field. I might think Ohio State, Boston College and LSU are the three best teams in the country in that order, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be ranked that way. The computers are better at the deserve factor.

I find it stunning that mid way through the season the Big Ten as two, TWO, teams in the top 25, and one is 25th.  Forgetting for a moment that it is possible that the league really is that down this year, which I do not totally accept, what is hurting the Big Ten more: 1) the pre-season perspective that the Big Ten is just not that good this year; 2) the complete lack of exposure due to the league offices total failure that is the Big Ten Network?  No one around the country gets to see these teams, it is like they are just forgotten about.   – Rob

A: Interesting thought on the Big Ten Network. I tend to have it on several hours a day, and wish the other leagues would have their own networks, so I forget that few actually get it. I’m sort of with you on the rankings, but who should be ranked that much higher than they are now? I’m not sold that all the SEC teams ranked so high deserve to be there, and I’m not sold that Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin at the moment should be so low. There’s a national backlash against the league at the moment, and it’s coming through in the rankings.

"If you can't win your conference, you don't deserve to play for the national title". The only problem with taking only conference champions in a +1 playoff (which I as well believe is the only real answer to this), is that you could have a team go 12-0 from the SEC, ACC or Big12, but then they must play a Conference Championship Game. Say in that game a 12-0 team turns the ball over 6 times, and loses by 3 to a team they beat handily in the regular season. On top of that, they've beaten 5 other top 25 teams in the regular season. They are done and out of the big show. Instead a team with one loss to a 5-6 team the 6th week of the year gets in because they won the Big East? – Steve

A: Again, why should that team that choked and couldn’t win its conference title be able to win the national championship? In our playoff-centric sports world, this is a hard concept to grab for more people than you’d think. That the SEC, Big 12 and ACC choose to crown its champion with one game at the end is their issue. I like the Pac 10 and Big East styles best, but a champion is a champion. If you’re not going to go by what happened in the conference race, then why even play the regular season? That’s the issue with college basketball, where the regular season is now completely meaningless. Go 0-18 in your conference regular season, with four games in a gimmicky end-of-the-year tournament and you’re the champion. Yeah, that’s better.

Since this is the tenth year of the BCS my questions are as follows:
1. Who has opened up number one in the first BCS rankings of each year? 2. How may won the BCS championship? - Bryan in Columbus

1998: 1. UCLA, 2. Ohio State, 3. Tennessee, 5. Florida State
Eventual Result: Tennessee over Florida State

1999: 1. Florida State, 2. Penn State, 3. Virginia Tech
Eventual Result: Florida State over Virginia Tech

2000: 1. Nebraska, 2. Oklahoma, 3. Virginia Tech, 5. Florida State
Eventual Result: Oklahoma over Florida State

2001: 1. Oklahoma, 2. Nebraska, 3, UCLA, 4. Miami
Eventual Result: Miami over Nebraska

2002: 1. Oklahoma, 2. Miami, 3, Notre Dame, 6.Ohio State
Eventual Result: Ohio State over Miami

2003: 1. Oklahoma, 2. Miami, 3, Virginia Tech, 12. LSU
Eventual Result: LSU over Oklahoma

2004: 1. USC, 2. Miami, 3. Oklahoma, 4. Auburn
Eventual Result: USC over Oklahoma

2005: 1. USC, 2. Texas, 3 Virginia Tech
Eventual Result: Texas over USC

2006: 1. Ohio State, 2. USC, 3. Miami, 6. Florida
Eventual Result: Florida over Ohio State