Since you asked: Holtz explains not going for 2
Skip Holtz has lost five games in a row, yes, but he's still good about answering specific questions about decisions made during games. So while it ultimately didn't factor in Saturday's outcome, I asked him Sunday about his decision to initially kick (and not go for two to pull within a field goal) after scoring a touchdown to pull within 21-16 of Louisville with 8:02 left.
Louisville jumped offsides, bringing the Bulls halfway closer to the goal line, and Holtz opted to go for two and converted on a Demetris Murray run to pull within 21-18. But many of you asked here and on Twitter why Holtz would even consider going for one there. Here's his explanation:
"I'm not a go-for-two-early guy. Some people think 'Well, what's the chart say in the second quarter.' There's a lot of scoring left to go. There's eight minutes to go, and the thought is OK, if we don't make it, and we're at 16 points, and they go down and kick a field goal, now you're down eight and you have to go for two just to tie it. Eight minutes is about that gray zone -- third quarter, I'm kicking the (extra point), a lot of points left to go; two minutes to go, I'm going for two. It's that eight-minute mark. What do you do?"
"I called one. I was on the headset, 'You know what? Golly. 8:02. What do you do? Do you go for it? Do I need to do this?' They jumped offsides. I said 'That was easy. Here we go. We're going for two.' Had there been less time on the clock, I would have gone for two without a doubt. Had there been more, even if they'd jumped offsides, I probably would have kicked. When they jumped offsides, they made the decision easy."
"If you have 16, if you go for two and don't make it, your defense stops them, you get the ball back, you score, it's 23-21. They get the ball, go down and kick a field goal and beat you 24-23, everybody's saying 'Hey dummy, why in the world did you go for two? If you would have kicked the (extra point), you would have been in a tie game. You're getting second-guessed. You don't know how the scoring's going to play out. There's still a lot of time to go. Don't make a decision for the end of the game when you can't predict an outcome."
(Just to add an explainer: In Holtz's hypothetical, with a touchdown to put you up 22-21 late, Holtz and anyone would go for two there, since there's little advantage in being up two points instead of one. You'd still have to go for two. His point is that kicking allows you to get to 24 with another touchdown and another kick, and he was allowing for a scenario where Louisville gets a field goal in the final minutes. There are scenarios where either options backfires on you.)