Brian has said on multiple occasions now that the play action on 2nd and 20 where Rudock threw the pick was a bad play call because it was an obvious passing down. But let’s look at the full scenario.
There are two minutes to go in the third quarter. Michigan trails by two points. The last possession ended in a missed 42-yard field goal. Michigan sits at 2nd and 20 on the 25. If they gain no yards in the next two plays they will kick approximately a 42 yard field goal. According to Wayne Winston’s Mathletics, the probability of success of an NFL kicker of a 42-yard field goal is 80%. The probability of success for a 32 yarder is 94%. The disparity is probably significantly bigger for college kickers. (And now we know Michigan’s snapper had the flu, making it even less likely that everything will go right to make a longer kick). Thus, getting even ten yards over downs 2 and 3 could be a huge benefit. And this is not even considering that 3rd and 12 or 13 is significantly more manageable than 3rd and 20.
Meanwhile, running in an “obvious passing play” can have its own advantages, including facing a more pass-oriented defensive personnel, making it even more likely that the play would gain decent yardage, where, as discussed, such yardage could be critical to being up one versus down two.
If running isn’t dumb, than play action isn’t dumb.
And Brian’s analysis assumes that players and coaches do what is “obvious” and expect what is “obvious,” which we know not to be the case. Indiana played to stop the run this whole game.
In sum, perhaps it wasn’t the best play call, or perhaps play-action on 2nd and 20 isn’t as effective as on 1st and ten, but it’s not so obvious that running would’ve been stupid or that it was a bad play call. And if Rudock doesn’t throw a duck (or makes a different read), who knows…