Bowl Predictions…in October?

It’s time now for playoff projections. Yes, playoff projections. Before the season began, I introduced a proposal for a college football playoff. Below I will analyze and predict outcomes for my playoff system, given the BCS rankings effective today…

It’s December 10th, and a full slate of four games are set for national television. It’s time for the play-in games, and college football fans everywhere are more excited than ever. Here are the matchups and results for the weekend…

#6 Georgia (at-large) @ #3 Penn State (Big Ten champion)

State College, PA, noon Eastern

Georgia strolls into Happy Valley having been written off by the pundits. Undefeated Penn State is playing in front of 107,000 boisterous white-clad fans and Georgia is simply not prepared to face the Northeastern December weather—or so the experts say. Penn State simply hasn’t played anyone as talented as Georgia in the Big Ten, and Georgia forces two early turnovers and takes the crowd out of the game. Knowshon Moreno puts on a clinic and allows Matthew Stafford to break some big plays on play-action to take care of the victory for the Dogs.

#15 Florida State (ACC champion) @ #2 Alabama (SEC champion)

Tuscaloosa, AL, 4 p.m. Eastern (3 p.m. Central)

The ‘Noles visit Tuscaloosa in a very intriguing border state matchup. FSU has built up lots of confidence after winning the ACC title, and they give Alabama all they can handle. FSU’s newfound rushing attack is mostly neutralized by Alabama’s interior defense, led by a healthy Terrence Cody, and Christian Ponder is forced to drop back too many times, allowing Alabama to rack up sacks and QB pressures against FSU’s young offensive line. Alabama’s offense does just enough against the talented Noles defense to pull out the win late.

#5 USC (Pac-10 champion) @ #4 Oklahoma (at-large)

Norman, OK, 8 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Central)

This primetime game is the one everybody had been waiting to see. It doesn’t disappoint. Scoreboard lights in Norman are burned out after Marc Sanchez and Sam Bradford trade touchdown passes back and forth all day. However, USC simply has too many playmakers for the Sooners to handle. Bradford’s Hail Mary attempt falls short at the buzzer, sending the fans home unhappy, and the Trojans into the semis.

#23 South Florida (Big East champion) @ #1 Texas (Big XII champion)

Austin, TX, 9 p.m. Eastern (8 p.m. Central)

South Florida keeps things interesting in the first quarter with a couple of scores, but the Bulls have no answer for Colt McCoy and company, as Texas rolls up touchdown after touchdown as the game goes on. Texas gets to rest their starters in the fourth quarter. No need to impress pollsters now….

Well, the play-in results are in, and the eight BCS teams have been assigned to bowls based on the results. Remember, all other bowls remain the same…

#23 South Florida vs. #15 Florida State

Orange Bowl, Miami, FL, January 1 (two lowest ranked losers)

Although this game doesn’t count for the championship, this matchup is a dream come true for the Orange Bowl and both of the schools. Two in-state teams that rarely play one another guarantees a sellout and plenty of publicity.

#4 Oklahoma vs. #3 Penn State

Fiesta Bowl, Tempe, AZ, January 5 (two highest ranked losers)

Yet another fantastic bowl matchup for two very good teams with great traditions. This one is guaranteed ratings. Who says a playoff takes away from the bowls, even the ones that aren’t a part of the playoff?

#6 Georgia vs. #1 Texas

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA, January 1 (semifinal, highest and lowest ranked winners)

The Rose Bowl committee won’t admit it publicly, but they are thanking their lucky stars for this matchup, which also serves as a defacto semifinal game. Not to name names, but last year’s game was a joke that no one cared about. With the winner set to advance to the title game in Miami the following week, both teams come out fired up. Texas builds a 10-point lead deep in the fourth quarter, but Matthew Stafford leads the Dogs back with his arm and sends the game to overtime late. After a UGA field goal in OT, Colt McCoy, who has had a shaky second half, eludes a defender and finds Jordan Shipley in the back of the end zone for the dramatic win and gives the Horns a spot in the title game in Miami the next week.

#5 USC vs. #2 Alabama

Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA, January 2

USC makes the trip to the Deep South for the other semifinal only to find themselves outmanned heavily in the stands. Tide fans have the Trojan fans outnumbered 4 or 5 to 1 by some estimates, and the Trojans are going up against a hungry, disciplined Alabama team that plays fundamental football and doesn’t beat themselves. This strategy has gotten Alabama through many tough opponents. Unfortunately for Alabama, no one, even in the SEC, is as good as USC when the Trojans are at their best. And they are at their best in this one. USC has NFL talent at every position, and they play like it. Alabama keeps it respectable, but doesn’t have the firepower to come back late.

We’ve now narrowed it down to two teams, doing it the right way. Only thing left to do is let them have at it…

USC vs. Texas

National Championship Game, Miami, FL, January 8

Vince Young and Reggie Bush are in the stands as fans are treated to repeat of the championship game from three years ago. The pundits have been saying “if this game is half as good as their last, we’ll be thrilled.” Fortunately for fans, this game is every bit as good as the last. It’s high level football from both teams on both sides of the ball all night. This time, when Texas has the ball 4th and goal from the five yard line with mere seconds remaining, it’s Colt McCoy who finds himself scrambling for the right pylon and the dramatic win to take him to immortality. This time, though, he doesn’t make it. USC wins the first ever true Bowl Championship Series with their goal line stop in the waning moments.

–Matt Dover

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3 Comments

Filed under College Sports, Matt Dover

3 responses to “Bowl Predictions…in October?

  1. My only problem with this fictional setup is that Miami hosts a semi-final game and the championship game. Might make me a liberal, but I feel like we should share the love between other cities.

    Also, why does OK (as an at-large bid) get to host the first round game with the Pac-10 champion? Is it just based on BCS ranking?

  2. Matt Dover

    The reason Miami is hosting both games is because that is how the current system is set up. Starting two years ago, the real BCS moved the title game back one week while still allowing that site to host their regular bowl game. For example, two years ago Boise State and Oklahoma met in their very memorable matchup at the Fiesta Bowl, and then a week later Florida embarrassed Ohio State in the same building for the championship. Last year, Georgia toyed with Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl and then a week later in the same building it was again Ohio State getting embarrassed, this time by LSU, for the championship.

    The conference champions at at-large bids simply determine which 8 teams get in. After the eight teams are determined, the seeds are simply set by the BCS rankings, regardless of how they got there.

  3. I’m a huge fan of this. It gives the “BCS Buster” a chance of actually winning a national championship, rather than just earning a spot in the 3rd or 4th best bowl.

    Maybe this will be the year that an undefeated Big 10 team gets left out of the national championship and there will be some support of a playoff system coming from that conference.

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