Tuck: Missed Field Goals Define 2011 College Football Season

By Mike Tuck
Host, Tuck & O'Neill

Wide right has it’s own special place in college football history.  This season, a variety of missed kicks have upset many teams title hopes.  Or at least made things a lot more complicated for the BCS.

With a system that voters attempt to select two teams from a field of 120, the results are always controversial, some years more than others.  This could be one of the most debated seasons with this silly “system.”

A kicker provided the winning points in national title game last season, and kickers have figured prominently this year, and not in a positive way.  For teams that are back-loaded with 5 and 4 star talent, it’s ironic that they don’t have the best kickers America has to offer.  And it’s cost them big time.

Alabama missed not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 field goals in their 9-6 OT home loss to LSU this year.  Jeremy Shelly has had a good year, but he can’t kick from any distance.  Cade Foster was responsible for 3 of the misses in the loss, and is just 2/9 on the year.

Oklahoma State kicker Quinn Sharp has actually had a great season, but he missed his biggest kick of the year, a 37-yard attempt that sailed right over the right upright at the end of regulation.  The Cowboys went on to lose in double overtime at Iowa State.

Boise State scores touchdowns, and it’s kicker Dane Goodale doesn’t get many chances (only 3 attempts heading into the TCU game), but he had a chance to keep the Broncos unbeaten with a 39-yard field goal that he missed badly to the right.

Oregon saw it’s chances of another title game appearance likely slip away when Alejandro Maldonado hooked a 37-yarder at the gun that would have tied the Ducks game against USC and sent it to overtime.

Oklahoma’s Michael Hunnicutt has only missed 3 kicks all season, alas two of the misses were in the Sooners 41-38 upset loss to Texas Tech.  He missed a 39-yarder at the start of the 2nd quarter, and even worse, a chip shot 28-yard attempt with under 3 minutes to play that would have cut a 10 point lead to 7, and ultimately the Sooners forced a 3-and-out and scored a touchdown with a minute and ten seconds left that should have, could have, would have tied it.

All 5 of those teams would feel much better about themselves today had they made a field goal.  It’s also worth pointing out how short all the kicks missed were.  We aren’t talking about long-shots, but very, very make-able field goals.  Alabama’s kicks were the longest, with the shortest miss being from 44 yards out.

It’s also an odd twist, that because of so many kicks missed, that a couple of those teams, perhaps more depending on the craziness of the next two weeks, find themselves still very much alive for a berth in the National Championship game.

Onto that, the rankings, which can and will be heavily debated.  As I have said previous, but it bears repeating: I rank teams each week from scratch.  I don’t look at my rankings from the week before.  I don’t look at the AP rankings.  I don’t look at the Harris Poll, the Coach’s Poll, or the BCS.  I look at the current standings and then analyze each team individually and compare schedules, wins, how they won, where they won, how many good teams, great teams, and bad teams they beat, and also who and how they lost.  Simply put, strength of schedule matters, and it matters a lot.

I’d like to think everyone thinks about ranking teams the same way, however I do not think voters erase their board and start over.  To me, that is how you keep the “when you lost” part out of the discussion, which shouldn’t matter I don’t believe.  It also eliminates preconceived opinions (i.e. preseason polling) from falsely influencing the rankings.

I hope that clarifies my opinions somewhat, now onto the controversy.

 

Tuck’s Top Twelve

1. LSU
2. Oklahoma State
3. Alabama
4. Boise State
5. Virginia Tech
6. Arkansas
7. Oklahoma
8. Oregon
9. Kansas State
10. Stanford
11. USC
12. Houston

What a strange 48 hours for Oklahoma State.  On the 10 year anniversary of a plane crash that killed 10 people with men’s basketball team, they lose 4 people in another plane crash Friday morning.  Lose a heart-breaker Friday night, and then watch more chaos on Saturday and end up right where they started, #2.  They have played a better schedule than Alabama, period.  Boise State’s schedule checks in well behind the Cowboys and Tide, but well ahead of the Hokies and Hogs.  The Sooners have played a top 5 schedule in America and lost two close games, giving them a slight nod ahead of the Ducks and their two losses.  Both still control their own destiny to win their conferences.

Kansas State has also played a tough schedule, with just the two losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.  Stanford has played a terrible schedule, and I can’t put them behind Oregon, who punished them.  USC tricks this up admittedly because they beat Oregon and lost to Stanford.  Their is no simple answer when 3 teams beat each other round robin.

The SEC hopes to avoid that disaster.  There is no correct choice if Arkansas beats LSU.  All three will be deserving.  Arkansas had the toughest SEC schedule, playing both the Tide and Tigers on the road, plus they played South Carolina.  The other two didn’t.  None of them played Georgia.  LSU would win best non-conference with Oregon and West Virginia at neutral and road sites.  I’d pick LSU because of their overall strength of schedule, but it isn’t fair.  Just like it wasn’t fair having to pick between Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech 3 years ago when they all tied in the Big XII South.

A playoff would sure make this easier.

STIFF-ARMING TROPHY RACE

Somebody has to win, just not sure we’ll feel real confident about that winner.

1) QB Kellen Moore, Boise State

2) RB Trent Richardson, Alabama

3) QB Colin Klein, Kansas State

4) QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor

5) WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

6) RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin

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