Coaches make dozens of decisions in every game. Most of them aren’t that noticeable. Some of them very much are.
Some calls can change a game. Some are just thrilling to watch. Sometimes it’s not one call but an entire game plan. Sometimes — because college football is supposed to be fun — it’s about trickeration.
Each week this season, USA TODAY Sports will select four calls from across the nation that we think rank among the best for the Amway Coach’s Call of the Week.
We let you, the fans, decide which call from the four below had the most impact or was the most exciting.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
The Hawkeyes shook up the college football world with a 55-24 thrashing of Ohio State on Saturday, just a week after the Buckeyes had bulldozed their way back into Playoff contention with a win against Penn State.
Iowa’s entire game plan should be commended, but a pair of third-quarter plays, back-to-back, buried the Buckeyes.
On fourth-and-3 from Ohio State 20 with Iowa leading 31-17, the Hawkeyes lined up — it’s hard to describe; frankly, good thing there is video — with punter Colten Rastetter in, well, punt formation. But Rastetter took the snap, faked a throw to the right and then shot put a pass to a wide-open Tyler Kluver, who stumbled and fell at the 2.
On the next play, a standard goal-line set, QB Nathan Stanley, with a Buckeyes defender wrapped around his leg, found T.J. Hockenson for the touchdown. Iowa 38, Ohio State 17.
The rout was on.
This week’s other nominees:
Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic
The Owls have something good going on. They are 6-3 overall, bowl eligible and in control of Conference USA at 5-0. They have won five in a row and have scored at least 30 points in each of those wins. That is in large part thanks to their first-year head coach.
On Friday, against C-USA contender Marshall, Kiffin dialed up back-to-back trick plays that led to a touchdown, broke a 16-16 tie and led to a key 30-25 win.
On first-and-10 from their own 16, a double-handoff-then-pitch-back-to-the-QB flea flicker, Jeff Driskel found Harrison Bryant for 24 yards. On the next play, Driskel threw a backward pass to Kamrin Solomon, who hit a wide-open Devin Singletary for 60 yards and a touchdown.
The only thing more fun than trick plays is winning.
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma
The Sooners faced archrival Oklahoma State on the road in Stillwater in a rivalry game that lived up to its name: Bedlam.
It was a shootout of the highest order, and Riley put the game in the hands of QB Baker Mayfield — all of a sudden the Heisman front-runner — and the senior made the plays.
He passed for a school-record 598 yards in the 62-52 victory, including a couple of big strikes to sophomore receiver Marquise Brown. One of those gems was a 77-yard TD in the fourth quarter that put the Sooners up 55-45. The Cowboys couldn’t quite make up the ground.
“(Mayfield) was awesome, played at an elite level,” Riley said. “He’s been through enough of these. He doesn’t blink, he doesn’t flinch. He’s made for atmospheres like this. It’s his favorite thing in the world.”
Matt Luke, Mississippi
The Rebels, coming off a devastating loss a week ago (they blew a 24-point lead against Arkansas), this time delivered the devastation.
Ole Miss edged Kentucky, in a back-and-forth game, 37-34 with a brilliant touchdown pass with five seconds remaining.
Jordan Ta’amu of Pearl City, Hawaii, a junior college transfer making his second start, launched a pass that receiver D.K. Metcalf, draped by a defender, went up and got. Touchdown Rebels.
“I think in the back of people’s minds, everybody was like, ‘When are these kids going to quit?” Luke said. “When are they going to give up? When are they not going to show up?’ They just continue to show up, continue to fight. I’m really, really proud.”