It was Championship Week in college football, so which coaches delivered championship efforts on Saturday? Find out here in our FootballScoop Coaches of the Week.
Head Coach of the Week – Nick Saban, Alabama: Saban’s team survived a rip roaring, record-breaking SEC Championship with a 32-28 win over Georgia and now sits on the precipice of history. The Crimson Tide were far from perfect on Saturday (see: special teams) but in the end they were five yards better than Georgia. Alabama came out on top of a game that set an SEC Championship record with six lead changes but after falling behind 21-10 in the third quarter, it was Alabama that scored 22 of the game’s final 29 points. Saban’s decision to go for two after T.J. Yeldon’s 10-yard touchdown run loomed extremely large as it forced Georgia to need a touchdown on the game’s final drive rather than a field goal. That one extra point is what caused the Bulldogs to run out of time at the doorstep of the goal line.
Offensive Staff of the Week – Wisconsin: Doug Nussmeier called a great game for Alabama, but Wisconsin’s night in the Big Ten Championship can not be ignored. Matt Canada’s offense compiled 63 points and 640 yards in a 70-31 thrashing of Nebraska. The Badgers ran 50 times for a mind-boggling 539 yards and eight touchdowns. Melvin Gordon ran nine times for 216 yards (24 yards per carry!) and a touchdown, Montee Ball pounded out 21 rushes for 202 yards and two scores, and James White rushed 15 times for 109 yards and four touchdowns. When they needed to throw, three Wisconsin passers combined to complete 8-of-10 attempts for 101 yards and a touchdown. In all, Wisconsin snapped the ball 60 times and averaged 10.7 yards per play and scored a touchdown on nearly 15 percent of their plays.
Defensive Staff of the Week – Florida State: In his final outing as Florida State’s defensive coordinator, Mark Stoops orchestrated a masterpiece. The Seminoles held Georgia Tech to 183 yards on 52 carries (3.52 yards per carry), their second-worst output of the season, and 5-of-16 passing for 118 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Karlos Williams’ interception with with one minute to go ended Georgia Tech’s last gasp drive and sealed the ACC championship for Florida State. Stoops’ unit also played solid red zone defense, holding the Yellow Jackets to two field goals and one touchdown in three trips. Stoops will now move on to assume the head coaching position at Kentucky, but his closing act sent Florida State to its first Orange Bowl since the 2005 season.
Special Teams Unit of the Week – Georgia: A hat tip must be given to Tulsa for returning a punt for a touchdown and blocking a field goal and extra point in their 33-27 overtime win over Central Florida, but Georgia was clearly the best special teams unit of the week. Georgia opened the second quarter with a fake punt pass from punter Arthur Lynch to cornerback Sanders Commings for 16 yards on 4th and 10. The play got Georgia inside the Alabama red zone, and two snaps later the Bulldogs had a 7-0 lead. Then, with Georgia leading 14-10 with just over 6:30 to go in the third quarter, Alec Ogletree returned a blocked field goal 55 yards for a touchdown to put Mark Richt’s team up by 11 points.
Call of the Week – Nick Saban, Alabama: It was mentioned above, but deserves further explanation here. After T.J. Yeldon rumbled in from 10 yards out at the 4:19 mark of the third quarter, Saban chose to go for two trailing 21-16. The Crimson Tide was in the midst of a second half feeding frenzy after Yeldon had rushed four times for 47 yards on the drive. Saban gambled that his offensive line could get him two-and-a-half more yards, and he was correct. That extra point was crucial after Georgia drove all the way to the Alabama eight-yard line with 15 seconds left. With no timeouts, the Bulldogs couldn’t just spike the ball, send in their field goal unit and play for overtime. Aaron Murray had to throw, and linebacker C.J. Moseley’s tipped pass landed in the arms of Georgia receiver Chris Conley in bounds at the five-yard line, essentially ending the game and sending the Tide to Miami.