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Now, about those two timeouts....
In November 2009, Stanford played arch-rival Cal with a Rose Bowl berth on the line.
Cal led 34-28 in the last minute. All four of Stanford's touchdowns had been scored by Toby Gerhart, who then bowled over half the Bears' defense on a 29-yard catch and run. The ball was on the Cal 2.
Then, coach Jim Harbaugh decided to let a young, first-year, redshirt freshman QB named Andrew Luck pass for the win. Luck was not playing his best, and wound up completing just 10-of-30 passes.
Luck's first attempt was incomplete. His second was intercepted in the end zone. Cal ran out the clock for the win, and with that went any Rose Bowl chances for Stanford—and perhaps, Toby Gerhart's Heisman Trophy as well. He would finish second to Mark Ingram, in the closest Heisman vote ever.
Why did I just bore you with something from 2009?
Because history repeats itself, and at the Fiesta Bowl, on a night where the same Andrew Luck was as unstoppable as Gerhart had been in the 2009 Cal game, the Stanford coaches took the ball out of Luck's hands.
You guessed it—they decided to let a young, first-year, redshirt freshman kicker who was having a bad game try a field goal for the win.
Luck was a near-perfect 16-of-17 in the second half. Had coach Shaw used one or both of Stanford's timeouts, allowing Luck to throw one or two more passes, Stanford could've scored a TD and won 45-38.
On the other hand, coach Shaw set up the field goal in textbook fashion. He ran the clock down, ensured that OSU would not regain possession, called a running play to place the ball right in the middle of the field and gave his kicker a straight-on, eminently make-able 35-yard kick for the win.
I've never coached football, but that sure seems to be a decent strategy—one that's worked countless other times in other games.
And so the debate rages on.
The offensive game plan certainly worked to perfection, as Stanford rolled up 590 yards of offense on the Cowboys.
The defense was good against the run. And who has ever stopped Blackmon anyways?