As a football coach, you mix trick plays into your practice schedule. You may never need to use it, but it's nice to have up your sleeve — particularly for high stakes situations. In college football, there aren't any higher stakes than the national championship game.
Back in 2014, Florida State and Auburn squared off for all the marbles in the last game of the BCS era. The Seminoles got on the board first, but Auburn answered back and built a 21-3 lead with just under four minutes left in the first half.
Auburn harnessed the momentum by forcing another punt in their own territory, but FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher wasn't going down without swinging.
Florida State's Fake Punt Changed the Course of the 2014 Title Game
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It's fourth-and-4 at their own 39-yard line, and Seminole punter Cason Beatty is back to punt like its business as usual. However, the ball was snapped to upback Dan Hicks, who then pitched it to backup running back Karlos Williams. Williams got found the corner and rushed past the sticks.
First-down Florida State.
Heisman winning quarterback Jameis Winston then led a scoring drive that was capped with a three-yard rushing touchdown by back Devonta Freeman. Thanks to a gutsy decision by Fisher, Florida State suddenly had some life.
We all know how the end result. FSU came back and won the game 34-31 to claim its third national title in program history. There wouldn't be a third trophy down in Tallahassee without the fake punt call.
Fisher knew it was a death sentence to go into the locker room at halftime with the way things were going. The fake punt not only resulted in a touchdown, but it stole the momentum from Auburn, making them the ones who went into the locker room deflated. It's the kind of call a coach who plays to win makes.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who was working for ESPN as an analyst for the game, commended his old friend (or is it enemy now?) for the call, too.
"I think that was the call of the game," Saban told Fisher after the game. "You've got to be bold some times. You guys needed something."
As Matt Damon has told us a million times, fortune favors the bold. That night, it favored the Florida State Seminoles at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.