Bielema’s Egregious Timeout

As many people have written about and I alluded to in yesterday’s Gameday Diary, Bret Bielema called one of the worst timeouts in the history of football in Saturday night’s loss to Michigan State.

Receiving the ball with 1:26 to play and the game tied 31-31, MSU ran the following series:

  • 1st and 10 at MSU 22 Kirk Cousins pass complete to Le’Veon Bell for 3 yards to the MchSt 25. 31 31
  • 2nd and 7 at MSU 25 Kirk Cousins pass incomplete to Keith Nichol.
  • 3rd and 7 at MSU 25 Kirk Cousins pass complete to Le’Veon Bell for 9 yards to the MchSt 34 for a 1ST down.
  • 1st and 10 at MSU 34 Kirk Cousins sacked by Brendan Kelly for a loss of 10 yards, fumbled, forced by Brendan Kelly, recovered by MchSt Dan France at the MchSt 24.
  • 2nd and 20 at MSU 24 Timeout WISCONSIN, clock 00:42.
  • 2nd and 20 at MSU 24 Kirk Cousins pass complete to B.J. Cunningham for 12 yards to the MchSt 36.
  • 3rd and 8 at MSU 36 Timeout WISCONSIN, clock 00:30.
When MSU was faced with 2nd and 20, they were going to let the clock run out and go into overtime but Bielema called timeout to stop the clock and give the Badgers a chance to perhaps get the ball back in win in regulation. This timeout is slightly defensible because if MSU had run negative plays or thrown incompletions, the Badgers would have had a reasonable shot to get the ball back with enough time to get into field goal range. I would have opted for overtime here with Wisconsin’s having all of the momentum but I can rationalize why he wanted to go for the kill in regulation.

The timeout on 3rd and 8, though, was egregious. The upside of this timeout could have only come from a stupid turnover, a blocked punt, a terrible punt or great punt return, or magic. The most likely scenario if Wisconsin was to get the ball back here would have been that that they received the ball on their own 20-yard line with about 20 seconds left. If MSU had an incomplete pass, Wisconsin would have had one timeout left. If they ran the ball or completed a pass short of the first down, Wisconsin would have had no timeouts. Either way, unless something catastrophic happened to MSU, WISCONSIN WOULD NOT HAVE HAD THE TIME TO ADVANCE THE BALL INTO FIELD GOAL RANGE.

The downside of this timeout was the highly unlikely potential for a hail mary that gets tipped and then advanced into the end zone or, more reasonably, that it would give MSU time to draw up plays to have a chance to kick a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation. THIS scenario was far more likely than disaster striking MSU and why calling the timeout on 3rd and 8 was outrageously stupid.

Bret Bielema is an incredible recruiter and great motivator–he brings A LOT to the table. But, as we saw in the Rose Bowl and on Saturday, he still needs to work on game management. Ugh.

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2 Responses to Bielema’s Egregious Timeout

  1. mweisburgh says:

    Ryan, I’d love to see/hear about the five worst timeouts in the history of football.

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