Monday, December 3

What Might Have Been

BCS apologists say that in college football, every week is a playoff. If that's the case, then the 2007 season was a double-elimination tournament except that LSU's second loss didn't eliminate them, Kansas lost to Missouri and lost again for having "Kansas" on their jersey rather than "LSU" or "Ohio State," and Hawaii wasn't even allowed to play. Enough with the crap. Votes and panels work great for dancing, gymnastics, and figure skating where the competitors can't really go at it head to head. (although I'm sure Kerrigan vs Harding in an on-ice deathmatch would have tripled olympic viewership) This is football, let's settle things on the field.

The 2007 season only adds more fuel to the fire for a full-blown playoff in college football's top division. Forget plus-one, sure it's a lot better than what we've got now but even that isn't really enough. This season there's at least six or seven teams who have roughly equal arguments for being title contenders -- besides that, you can't justify putting Hawaii in the top four with their schedule but they certainly still deserve a chance to crown their perfect season with a championship. And as much as this season is the exception historically, if the overall parity in college football continues to increase, we'll have more and more seasons where the conference schedules plus maybe one decent nonconference game for each team just don't give a clear picture of how the top teams compare to each other.

As it makes little sense for the BCS to run anything more than the plus-one system, the playoffs are eventually going to be run by the NCAA. (perhaps with the BCS sticking around to run the Final Four through a series of "neutral-setting" bowls) If the NCAA runs a playoff, it will feature 16 teams. That's just a fact - it's how they run all the other divisions, who somehow manage to graduate their athletes. The only real question is if it would be just the top 16 teams or if there would be conference tie-ins. Having tie-ins makes things fair for everybody, so I'm going to go with that.

1. Ohio State - Big Ten Champion
2. LSU - SEC Champion
3. Virginia Tech - ACC Champion
4. Oklahoma - Big 12 Champion
5. Georgia - 10-2 at large
6. Missouri - 11-2 Big 12 runner-up
7. USC - Pac 10 Champion
8. Kansas - 11-1 at-large
9. West Virginia - Big East Champion
10. Hawaii - WAC Champion
11. Arizona State - 10-2 at-large
12. Florida - 9-3 at-large
13. BYU - Mountain West Champion
14. UCF - C-USA Champion
15. Troy - Sun Belt Champion
16. Central Michigan - MAC Champion

16. Central Michigan AT 1. Ohio State
Ohio State has lots of experience playing against the MAC this season, and they handle CMU easily.

9. West Virginia AT 8. Kansas
Reesing's inexperience proves costly and KU has not seen the kind of speed WVU brings on offense.

13. BYU AT 4. Oklahoma
OU's starters get plenty of rest in this one.

12. Florida AT 5. Georgia
A rematch game! Just look at the difference between finishing in the top 4 vs finishing 5th... OU practically has a first round bye, whereas Georgia will be in for a real fight. Tebow is more healthy, but Florida still has not grown a defense. Dawgs in a classic SEC battle.

14. UCF AT 3. Virginia Tech
A coastal matchup featuring one of the nation's leading rushers vs a stout defense. VT wins but it's closer than many predicted...

11. Arizona State AT 6. Missouri
Missouri is a little better at QB, RB, and WR. Add that to their home field advantage and they win by 10.

10. Hawaii AT 7. USC
Another coastal game, this time out West. Hawaii puts up more of a fight than expected, but USC's experience of playing in big games time and again puts them over the top.

15. Troy AT 2. LSU
Troy just isn't prepared for a trip to Tiger Stadium and they get rocked.

9. West Virginia AT 1. Ohio State
On a neutral field, WVU's speed on offense is too much for the Buckeyes. But in the Horseshoe at night, Ohio State is able to create a physical, slow, ugly game that's more to their liking.

5. Georgia AT 4. Oklahoma
Both of these teams have a lot of supporters right now who feel they should be playing against Ohio State. And in a playoff, the winning team would get that chance! Bradford > Stafford, OU wins.

6. Missouri AT 3. Virginia Tech
Missouri's offense is too much for VT to hold down all game, particularly with their own offense going 3-and-out to keep the defense on the field. Chase Daniel doesn't make the costly mistakes that Sean Glennon does, and the Tigers go into Blacksburg and win!

7. USC AT 2. LSU
Are you kidding me? This matchup has been talked about for the last four years and it's finally played, as the Trojans travel into Tiger Stadium - possibly the most hostile road environment in college football. It's the most talent on the field of any game so far, and when LSU scores the winning TD rather than kicking a tying FG, the crowd roar registers as an earthquake.

1. Ohio State VS 4. Oklahoma
Site: Rose Bowl
The Rose Bowl is the traditional destination for Big Ten schools, but it's by random chance that it wound up hosting Ohio State. Oklahoma doesn't mind as they have fond memories of this bowl from the 2002 season. Both teams feature great defenses which keep the score down, but Boeckman turns the ball over three times including a pick-six and the Buckeye offense simply is not suited to play catch-up against this caliber of defense.

2. LSU VS 6. Missouri
Site: Sugar Bowl
This game's site somehow wound up being the Sugar Bowl, which isn't really neutral at all. Missouri's defense can't contend with all the speed LSU has on offense, while LSU's pressure defense and great cornerbacks force Chase Daniel into a game filled with big plays for both teams. It's enough for the Tigers - LSU, that is - to win comfortably in a high-scoring game.

The Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl aren't used this year, and so they are free to invite whomever they choose. (the bowls haven't been eliminated!) Any non-final four participants are free to invite, so the Orange Bowl is Va Tech vs West Va and the Fiesta Bowl grabs USC and Georgia.

4. Oklahoma VS 2. LSU
Site: Cotton Bowl
With a new mega-stadium, the Cotton Bowl will host the premiere bowl venue. The Sooners boast a more efficient, less mistake-prone QB despite him being a freshman. Their RB corps is the deeper of two amazing groups and their red zone defense is vastly superior to LSU's, despite the Tigers having a better defense between the 20s. OU gets revenge for that Sugar Bowl loss four years ago and becomes the first true champion of NCAA football.

You can't tell me this wouldn't be better than watching USC destroy Illinois, Georgia vs yet-untested Hawaii, a questionable selection of Kansas rather than Missouri to face Va Tech, and omg the one good matchup West Va vs Oklahoma... while LSU takes on Ohio State for the title.