Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The bowl is half empty - part 5

Congratulations to the Florida State Seminoles, winner of Monday 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 have done for the past four years, 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 Michigan State (12-1, Big Ten) vs. 4th seed Oklahoma State (10-2, Big 12) -- winner: Michigan State

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

Rose Bowl: Michigan State over South Carolina. South Carolina played well, but Michigan State proved they belonged in the upper echelon of this year's teams.

Fiesta Bowl Bracket

1st seed Alabama (11-1, SEC) vs. 4th seed UCF (11-1, American) -- winner: UCF

2nd seed Baylor (11-1, Big 12) vs. 3rd seed Oregon (10-2, Pac-12) -- winner: Oregon

Fiesta Bowl:  UCF over Oregon. Going into the playoffs, I thought Alabama was the team to beat. However, in real life, Alabama was upset by a team like UCF, while UCF upset a team like Alabama, so I think this is a fair result.

Sugar Bowl Bracket

1st seed Auburn (12-1, SEC) vs. 4th seed Arizona State (10-3, Pac-12) -- winner: Auburn

2nd seed Ohio State (12-1, Big Ten) vs. 3rd seed Clemson (10-2, ACC) -- winner: Clemson. (This is what actually happened in this year's Orange Bowl.)

Sugar Bowl: Auburn over Clemson. Ohio State almost beat Clemson. I think Auburn would have sealed the deal.

Orange Bowl Bracket

1st seed Florida State (13-0, ACC) vs. 4th seed UCLA (9-3, Pac-12) -- winner: Florida State

2nd seed Missouri (11-2, SEC) vs. 3rd Oklahoma (10-2, Big 12) -- winner: Oklahoma

Orange Bowl: Florida State over Oklahoma. Oklahoma looked incredible in their bowl game, but Florida State looked unstoppable all season. It would have been close, but I think the Seminoles would have pulled it out.

Final Four

Eastern Semifinal: Florida State over Auburn

Western Semifinal: Michigan State over UCF

National Championship Bowl: Florida State over Michigan State. Then again, could Florida State have really beaten Oklahoma, Auburn and Michigan State all in a row? Or would another team have risen to the challenge? Unfortunately, for this year at least, we'll never know.


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

As I did the past two years, I have also set up a second-tier 16-team tournament. I've included all of the conferences champions without a spot in the main tournament (C-USA, MAC and Sun Belt), as well as the next-best available teams according to the BCS rankings and AP poll.


1st seed Louisville (11-1, American) vs. 4th seed Bowling Green (10-3, MAC) -- winner: Louisville

2nd seed Georgia (8-4, SEC) vs. 3rd seed Miami, Fla. (9-3, ACC) -- winner: Georgia

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Louisville over Georgia


1st seed LSU (9-3, SEC) vs. 4th seed Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4, Sun Belt) -- winner: LSU

2nd seed Duke (10-3, ACC) vs. 3rd seed Iowa (8-4, Big Ten) -- winner: Iowa

Gator Bowl: LSU over Iowa


1st seed Wisconsin (9-3, Big Ten) vs. 4th seed Vanderbilt (8-4, SEC) -- winner: Wisconsin

2nd seed Northern Illinois (12-1, MAC) vs. 3rd seed Notre Dame (8-4, independent) -- winner: Notre Dame

Alamo Bowl: Notre Dame over Wisconsin


1st seed Fresno State (11-1, Mountain West) vs. 4th seed Rice (10-3, C-USA) -- winner: Fresno State

2nd seed Texas A&M (8-4, SEC) vs. 3rd seed USC (9-4, Pac-12) -- winner: USC

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: USC over Fresno State


Outback Bowl: Louisville over LSU

Cotton Bowl: USC over Notre Dame

Capital One National Invitational Championship Bowl: USC over Louisville

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