These short takes are presented as a companion to the Auburn-Louisville game column, which can be found here. Auburn won 31-24 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.
1. Mea culpa. I didn’t know the rule. I’m guessing you didn’t, either. I tweeted that Louisville coach Bobby Petrino made a “terrible mistake” by calling his last timeout with 52 seconds and the clock stopped. Reaction on Twitter and even the CBS broadcast was similarly incredulous. But I was going by the NFL rule, which is different. (Ask the Falcons. Their whole Wembley undoing was a function of James Stone holding Ndamukong Suh and the clock stopping until the next snap.) In college, the clock restarts after a penalty. Bobby Petrino said he asked the refs and was told it would restart, which he also said forced him to call time at 0:52.
2. Though that wasn’t quite true. He didn’t have to call time at 0:52. Clay Travis of Fox Sports explains it well in this video. The clock would have restarted at 0:52, but Auburn couldn’t have run off 40 seconds off the clock. Owing to the penalty and the resulting stoppage, the Tigers would have gotten a 25-second play clock. Assuming Auburn ran the ball on third-and-12, Petrino could have used his final timeout at roughly 0:20, which would have forced the Tigers to punt. As it happened, Auburn’s fourth-down snap came at 0:03, when quarterback Jeremy Johnson rolled out and threw the ball far downfield. (Though not, weirdly enough, out of bounds. What if it had been intercepted?) As much fun as it is, especially for us Atlantans, to lambaste Petrino, I would — after further review — describe this as a mild error, not the grievous one it seemed.
3. Auburn was far from awesome. The nation’s No. 6 team was outgained 405 yards to 327. That first number was, by recent Auburn standards, more than acceptable. Will Muschamp’s defense didn’t yield a point until the Tigers led 24-0, and former Georgia safety Tray Matthews’ interception on the game’s first snap and Justin Garrett’s 82-yard fumble return put Louisville in a hole from which it couldn’t escape. But Gus Malzahn’s offense, the cornerstone of this program, wasn’t even ordinary. Johnson completed 11 of 21 passes for 137 yards and threw three interceptions. (Two by Josh Harvey-Clemons, once a Georgia safety himself.) Auburn rushed for 190 yards, which isn’t AU-like. (It averaged 255.5 yards per game last season.) If you picked the Tigers to win the SEC West — and I did — you aren’t a-brim with confidence after this.