So, Arizona continued its tailspin tonight, dropping a 30-29 double-overtime contest to hated(?) rival Arizona State en route to falling to 7-5. Not only did Arizona's loss come on a blocked Alex Zendejas extra point in that second overtime, but the two teams only went to OT in the first place because Zendejas had another PAT blocked with 33 seconds left on the clock and a tie game.
It's sort of fitting that ASU picks up its sixth win this way (though this doesn't necessarily clear the way for bowl eligibility ), seeing as how the Sun Devils lost two games this year on late blocked extra points. Wisconsin swatted a game-tying PAT in the fourth quarter in September's 20-19 Badger win, and USC 's two-point return of a blocked extra point with under seven minutes left paved the way for a game-winning field goal in the Trojans' 34-33 victory four weeks ago. Yes, this still leaves ASU 1-2 on games decided by point-after follies this season, but that's certainly better than the 0-2 the Sun Devils were staring at 24 hours ago.
Funny thing of it is, though, Arizona head coach Mike Stoops must have had some inkling that the second blocked kick was about to happen, because his initial instinct was to not kick the ball in the first place.
"I wanted to go for two," Stoops told the Tucson Citizen. "And I should have stuck with my gut and I didn't. And that's my fault. I just had that feeling to go for two."
Of course, this ex post facto second-guessing isn't exactly a new or unique phenomenon; personally, I can point to at least five specific games in the Expert Picks where I ignored doubts against better judgment and blew the pick (Utah at Notre Dame, for one, was a classic letdown game and I chickened out and took the higher-ranked team instead), but the fact that I didn't make those picks is much more meaningful than any after-the-fact lamentation. We've all made dumb decisions, sports-related or not. The trick is to not make them in the first place.
Further, game-winning two-point conversions aren't exactly sure shots to begin with; just ask Iowa State about that. If Arizona had failed on its two-pointer and lost like that, Stoops is all of a sudden on the hook for the loss, rather than just Zendejas and his low PATs. While it's not like Stoops is on a hot seat anymore, biffing on a shot at the Territorial Cup by taking an arguably unnecessary two-point conversion isn't exactly a great way to inspire confidence from the moneyed interests. Make it, and Arizona wins, and everyone's happy, but who wants to put their career trajectories on the flip of a coin like that? That's tantamount to gambling, and last I checked, gambling's illegal, pal.