Ole Miss stopped on a 4th quarter fake field goal in tight game vs. Texas A&M. Why that was the wrong decision.

Nick Gray
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin is known for his aggressiveness in game management.

It showed on Saturday night in the Rebels' game against Texas A&M, first with a first-half 4th and goal decision that was defensible from a momentum and analytics standpoint. Ole Miss did not get a score on the fourth down play, but it did get a safety to grow its lead to 15-0.

The less defensible decision occurred with 13:38 in the fourth quarter, with Ole Miss holding onto a 15-10 lead. Ole Miss lined up for a 40-yard field goal for Caden Costa but opted for a fake field goal and a run by punter Mac Brown. The Ole Miss punter was at least a half yard short of the first down marker, and the Rebels wasted yet another positive drive without points. 

Why would it be less defensible than before? An 8-point game is much different than a 5-point lead, because a touchdown and a two-point conversion can only tie the game. A 5-point lead opens the door for a touchdown and a two-point conversion that would give A&M a three-point lead on the other side. Risk is fine, and Ole Miss could have scored a touchdown on the drive and gotten a two-score lead. But trusting your punter to do that is a choice.

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In reality, the Aggies drove for a field goal after getting the ball back, creating a 15-13 Ole Miss lead with 10 minutes to play. 

Ole Miss has gained 485 total yards and earned just 15 points, two of which came via safety. Kiffin has been routinely criticized for aggressive decisions this year, namely the fourth-down attempts in the first half at Alabama. That won't get quieter with Saturday's events.