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Instant Replay: ‘Bama goes for it, gets it right
Fourth-and-inches for Alabama. Make it and win. Don’t and Arkansas has less than half the field and about 50 seconds to score a game-winning and possibly season-changing touchdown.
Nick Saban needed a little goading from his players, but he did the right thing. Get a few inches, take a knee, celebrate.
THE BIG STORY
There is universal agreement among those who analyze football statistics that teams should go on fourth down far more often than they do.
Still, there were no doubt plenty of Crimson Tide fans were screaming “Punt, ‘Bama, punt!” when Saban decided to go on fourth-and-less-than-a-yard from its own 44 with 54 seconds left and the Tide leading 24-20 lead against Ryan Mallett and the Razorbacks on Saturday.
It took two timeouts and a failed attempt to draw the Hogs offside by the Tide for Saban to decide to try to win the game instead of trying to avoid losing it.
Alabama guard Barrett Jones after the game said the players were lobbying the coach during the second timeout.
Of course, players always want to go for it. And since you don’t win two national championships by being easily swayed into calling plays you don’t believe in, it’s safe to say Saban was at least seriously considering trying for the first down.
Maybe he was thinking about this: What were the chances an Alabama offense that averages 6.5 yards per rush, would NOT get about a foot? Maybe 5 percent? Even that seems high.
What were the chances that if Alabama punted and buried Arkansas inside its own 20, that Mallett would have driven the length of the field for a TD. Well, put it this way, there’s a lot more that could go wrong in that situation.
Going for it was far less risky, but it was still great theater in Fayetteville.
There was probably more praying going on inside War Memorial Stadium on Saturday than in all the churches in town on Sunday when the Tide lined up to go for it.
Set, hike, quarterback sneak for 2 yards. Game over. Alabama stays undefeated.
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