Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The bowl is half empty - part 3

Congratulations to the Alabama Crimson Tide, winner of last night's so-called "National Championship Bowl" and holder of this year's mythical NCAA football crown. I say "mythical" because, while I believe they have a good claim to the title, for some reason we still don't have a true playoff system to definitively settle the matter. So, as I did last year and the year before, I'd like to imagine a world in which we had been treated to a month of playoff-level excitement. A world where we had gotten to see 16 of the season's top-ranked college football teams battle for the ultimate, indisputable title.

Here is what it might have looked like. I have bracketed and seeded the teams according to their final regular-season BCS rankings, with some consideration given to tradition (e.g., SEC champion in the Sugar Bowl bracket) and geography. I also used the rule of no more than one team per conference in any given bracket.

Rose Bowl Bracket

1st seed Oregon (11-2, Pac-12) vs. 4th seed Oklahoma (10-3, Big XII) -- winner: Oregon

2nd seed Arkansas (10-2, SEC) vs. 3rd seed Wisconsin (11-2, Big Ten) -- winner: Arkansas

Rose Bowl: Oregon over Arkansas. This one really could go either way, but I've got to give the edge to the Ducks and their brain-implodingly tacky uniforms.

Fiesta Bowl Bracket

1st seed Oklahoma State (11-1, Big XII) vs. 4th seed Clemson (10-3, ACC) -- winner: Oklahoma State

2nd seed Stanford (11-1, Pac-12) vs. 3rd seed South Carolina (10-2, SEC) -- winner: Stanford

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State over Stanford. This is exactly what happened in this year's Fiesta Bowl.

Sugar Bowl Bracket

1st seed LSU (13-0, SEC) vs. 4th seed West Virginia (9-3, Big East) -- winner: LSU

2nd seed Boise State (12-1, Mountain West) vs. 3rd seed Baylor (10-3, Big XII) -- winner: Boise State

Sugar Bowl: LSU over Boise State. Boise State looked good yet again, but - last night's game notwithstanding - LSU has been dominant all season.

Orange Bowl Bracket

1st seed Alabama (11-1, SEC) vs. 4th seed Michigan (10-2, Big Ten) -- winner: Alabama

2nd seed Kansas State (10-2, Big XII) vs. 3rd seed Virginia Tech (11-2, ACC) -- winner: Kansas State

Orange Bowl: Alabama over Kansas State. The SEC owns the Big XII this year.

Final Four

Eastern Semifinal: Alabama over LSU

Western Semifinal: Oregon over Oklahoma State

National Championship Bowl: 'Bama looked pretty unstoppable last night. But who knows? If we had actually gotten to see this play out, I wouldn't have been surprised in the least to see Oklahoma State or Oregon win the big game. And West Virginia and Arkansas sure looked strong in their own bowl games and could have been Cinderellas at the ball if there had been a ball. Sadly, for this season at least, we'll never know.


BONUS: The "N.I.T." of College Football

This year, 70 teams participated in 35 bowl games. Many of these were barely-worthy 6-6 teams, but there were a few good ones in there as well. Here is what a second-tier 16-team tournament might have looked like. I've included all of the conferences champions without a spot in the main tournament (C-USA, MAC, Moutain West, Sun Belt and WAC), as well as the next-best available teams according to the BCS rankings and AP poll.


1st seed Houston (13-1, C-USA) vs. 4th seed Arkansas State (10-2, Sun Belt) -- winner: Houston

2nd seed Penn State (9-4, Big XII) vs. 3rd seed Auburn (8-5 SEC) -- winner: Auburn

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Auburn over Houston


1st seed Georgia (10-4, SEC) vs. 4th seed Louisiana Tech (8-5, WAC) -- winner: Georgia

2nd seed Southern Miss (12-2, C-USA) vs. 3rd seed Florida State (9-4, ACC) -- winner: Florida State

Gator Bowl: Georgia over Florida State


1st seed Michigan State (11-3, Big Ten) vs. 4th seed Ohio (10-4, MAC) -- winner: Michigan State

2nd seed Texas (8-5, Big XII) vs. 3rd seed Notre Dame (8-5, Independent) -- winner: Texas

Alamo Bowl: Michigan State over Texas


1st seed TCU (11-2, Moutain West) vs. 4th seed BYU (10-3, Independent) -- winner: TCU

2nd seed Nebraska (9-4, Big Ten) vs. 3rd seed Cincinnati (10-3, Big East) -- winner: Cincinnati

Insight Bowl: Cincinnati over TCU


Outback Bowl: Georgia over Auburn

Cotton Bowl: Michigan State over Cincinnati

Capital One National Invitational Championship Bowl: Michigan State over Georgia

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