College football is by its very nature a crazy, entertaining sport. But the 2007 season was something special – and not just because our beloved Jayhawks were actually, you know, good. For the best evidence of the craziness that was 2007, look no further than the plight of teams ranked #2 in the AP poll.
Eight different teams were ranked #2 at some point between September 4 and December 2. In the final nine weeks of the season, the AP #2 lost seven times. #1 and #2 both fell in the same week three times.
In a season like this, what’s the best way to determine a national champion?
Obviously, a two-team playoff, right!
Did they put the only unbeaten team (Hawaii) up against one of the only one-loss teams (Kansas and Ohio State) for the national title? No. No, they did not.
BCS. What a stupid concept.
Whoever thought of that should be publicly shamed.
But that’s another article for another day. We’re here to determine the true national champion. And what better way to do that than to run a 16-team playoff, courtesy of WhatIfSports.
We’ll make it simple. 16 teams. Four weeks. One champion.
Win your conference? You get a shot. The remaining five spots will go to the highest ranked non-champs in the final BCS poll. Seeding will be in accordance with BCS rankings. Since there are only 16 teams, conference affiliation will not be a concern for seeding. And guess what, the regular season still matters, because a top-four seed guarantees you home field advantage in the first two rounds, to be played on December 8 and 15. Following a two-week break, the Final Four will resume on January 5, with the national title game on January 12. The Final Four and Championship Game will be played at neutral sites. The final BCS rankings will be released during the Selection Show.
The games will be simulated using WhatIfSports.com’s engine. Historical weather data will be taken into account. The Final Four and National Title Game will be at neutral sites in assumed good weather or dome conditions. To get an idea of which team is better, each matchup will be simulated 10 times. HOWEVER, in order for allow for the possibility of some madness to occur, the team that wins the FIRST simulation will be the one to advance (yes, even if they lose the next nine times).
So without further ado, on to the Selection Show!
The Date: Sunday, December 2, 2007
ACC: Virginia Tech
CUSA: Central Florida
MAC: Central Michigan
BE: West Virginia
B10: Ohio State
SUN: Florida Atlantic
We know these 11 schools will be in our 16-team field. But where will they be seeded? Who will get the five at-large berths? The Selection Show begins now!
(1) Who will the BCS select as its final #1 team? Why, it’s Ohio State (11-1, 7-1 B10). After winning the Big 10 outright, despite a home loss to Illinois (their only blemish on the season), the Buckeyes knew they would be in and are now set as the top seed.
(16) Their opponent is Central Michigan (8-5, 7-1 MAC), who appears on the screen as the 16-seed. The Chippewas come into the playoffs at 8-5, but rolled through the MAC with a 7-1 record, knocking off Miami OH in the conference championship game.
(8) For the 8-9 matchup, no one yet knows how the BCS rankings look. It turns out that Kansas (11-1, 7-1 B12) has finished #8 in the final BCS poll, and sure enough, the Jayhawks get an at-large bid and the #8 seed. Strength of schedule was a concern for many regarding these Jayhawks, but it turns out they’ve done just enough to get to host a first-round matchup.
(9) West Virginia, co-champion of the Big East, is the #9 team in the BCS and the #9 seed in our tournament. The Mountaineers finished 10-2, 5-2 in conference, and get the automatic bid over UConn due to winning the head-to-head matchup.
(5) The #5 team in the BCS rankings is Georgia (10-2, 6-2 SEC). The Bulldogs claim an at-large bid, as they finished the season in second place to Tennessee in the SEC East.
(12) Interestingly enough, the #12 team in the BCS is a familiar foe to Georgia, as the Florida Gators (9-3, 5-3 SEC) pop up on the screen. Florida finished third in the SEC East behind Tennessee and Georgia. The Gators smoked Tennessee in the regular season, but lost to Georgia in Jacksonville back on October 27 by a 42-30 score.
(4) Big 12 Champion Oklahoma (11-2, 6-2 B12) is the #4 team in the BCS standings. The Sooners’ two losses both came on the road, to Colorado and Texas Tech, but they beat Missouri twice so apparently that’s good enough to push OU all the way up to a lofty #4 ranking.
(13) They’ll take on BYU (10-2, 8-0 MW), champions of the Mountain West Conference. The Cougars finished #17 in the BCS but get the 13-seed in this tournament, due to having a higher BCS ranking than three of the conference champions. BYU’s only two losses came early in the season, on back-to-back road trips to UCLA and Tulsa.
(6) A home game and the 6-seed is granted to the Missouri Tigers (11-2, 7-1 B12), who only suffered defeat at the hands of Oklahoma, albeit twice, so far this year. Missouri entered championship Saturday at #1 in the BCS, but the second loss to the Sooners knocked them back to #6.
(11) Traveling to Columbia, MO will be our fifth and final at-large selection. 11-seed Arizona State (10-2, 7-2 PAC) is the co-champion of the Pac-10 Conference. The Sun Devils are an at-large bid to the tournament due to their loss to fellow co-champion USC. They finished #11 in the BCS.
(3) The 3-seed goes to ACC champion Virginia Tech (11-2, 7-1 ACC), as the Hokies come in at #3 in the BCS after knocking off Boston College in the ACC title game. Virginia Tech suffered a blowout loss early in the season to LSU, with their second loss a home game against the afore-mentioned Boston College Eagles.
(14) The Hokies will take on 14-seed Central Florida (10-3, 7-1 CUSA), the champions of Conference USA. The Knights don’t have much on the resumé, but they do have a win over NC State and a three-point loss to Texas. However, their other two losses were blowout affairs, both road games, a 52-38 setback at East Carolina and a 64-12 drubbing at South Florida.
(7) USC (10-2, 7-2 PAC) claims the Pac-10’s automatic bid to the tournament courtesy of their head-to-head win over Arizona State. The Trojans finished the season at #7 in the BCS despite a shocking home loss to 41-point underdog Stanford in early October. USC’s other loss came on the road at Oregon.
(10) The only unbeaten team in the country, Hawaii (12-0, 8-0 WAC) finished ranked #10 in the BCS, and they will travel to Los Angeles to take on USC. Similar to Kansas, Hawaii’s schedule strength is a concern of many, as the Warriors won their final four games by eight points or fewer, a stretch that featured mighty Fresno State, Nevada, #19 Boise State, and Washington.
(2) The 2-seed goes to SEC Champion LSU (11-2, 6-2 SEC). Both of LSU’s losses came when the Tigers were ranked #1, and both were in triple overtime. #UnbeatenInRegulation has become this team’s slogan.
(15) The final spot in the tournament goes to Sun Belt champ Florida Atlantic (7-5, 6-1 SUN). The Owls barely finish ahead of Central Michigan in the final BCS standings, with lopsided losses to Oklahoma State, Kentucky, and Florida on their resumé.
First Four Out
So who got bumped from our playoff picture? Well, in the final BCS standings, #13 Illinois, #14 Boston College, #15 Clemson, and #16 Tennessee all had to make way for conference champions. While solid, none of these teams are without flaws.
#13 Illinois (9-3, 6-2 B10), dropped games to Missouri, Iowa, and Michigan, settling for a third-place finish in the Big 10. Yes, they beat Ohio State and Wisconsin, but how about you don’t lose to 6-6 Iowa?
#14 Boston College (10-3, 6-2 ACC) split two games with Virginia Tech, but also lost at home to 7-5 Florida State and on the road to 6-6 Maryland.
#15 Clemson (9-3, 5-3 ACC) finished second in the ACC Atlantic Division to Boston College. All of Clemson’s three losses came to top-20 teams, but two of those games were at home. The only reason to call it “Death Valley” in 2007 was because that’s where Clemson’s playoff hopes went to die.
#16 Tennessee (9-4, 6-2 SEC) lost the SEC title game to LSU. The Volunteers tied Georgia for the SEC East crown, but claimed a win over UGA back on October 6. How about you don’t lose to a 6-6 Alabama team? Not counting the SEC Championship, all three losses were on the road, but all were by two touchdowns or more. That’s how Florida and Georgia get in over you.
So the bracket is set. Bracketeers, start filling them out! Who ya got?
(16) Central Michigan @ (1) Ohio State
(9) West Virginia @ (8) Kansas
(12) Florida @ (5) Georgia
(13) BYU @ (4) Oklahoma
(11) Arizona State @ (6) Missouri
(14) Central Florida @ (3) Virginia Tech
(10) Hawaii @ (7) USC
(15) Florida Atlantic @ (2) LSU