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The What-If NCAA football Tourney, 2012

In just two short years I won’t be able to type these words.

Since the college football world does not give us a true tournament for the national championship, I thought I would come up with a 24-team “what-if” bracket. I have been doing this since 2006 or so (could have been doing it longer than that but I didn’t post those earlier one’s on lifewithjustin.com so they have been lost to the sands of time). But with a real four-team tourney in the works for 2014, time is running out on my mental exercise in bracketology.

To quote myself from a random previous year I did this. . .

“As in previous years, 24 teams get in (about 20% of the schools in the Division I-FBS, which is roughly the same percentage as in other sports). I gave automatic bids to the 11 conference champions and picked 13 other schools deemed worthy. We rank the chosen 24 and put them in brackets, moving some teams around to avoid intra-conference games the first two rounds. Eight teams get byes so that the regular season still has ‘meaning.’”

So here now, I present the penultimate What-If College Football Tournament.

South Regional

1-           1-Alabama

4-Oklahoma

5-Boise State

 

3-South Carolina

6-Utah State

                2-Florida State

 

East Regional

1-      Georgia

4-Clemson

5-Oregon State

 

3-Northern Illinois

6-Tulsa

                2-Florida

 

Midwest Regional

1-      Notre Dame

4-UCLA

5-Kent State

 

3-Texas A&M

6-Wisconsin

                2-Kansas State

 

West Regional

1-           1- Stanford

4- Nebraska

5- Louisville

 

3-LSU

6- Arkansas State

2-          2-Oregon

Three of the top seeds were no-brainers. If you were the champion of the best conference in the nation, or the team that could have beaten them IF THEY REMEMBERED TO SPIKE THE DAMN BALL WITH 15 SECONDS LEFT you deserve a No. 1 seed. So does unbeaten Notre Dame. For the final No. 1 I went with Stanford because the Pac 12 was pretty strong this year and taking Notre Dame to overtime and beating Oregon are pretty good. Yes, they lost to Washington but considering another top seed contender, Florida, needed a miracle to beat Louisiana Lafayette, Stanford’s resume looks good.

The No. 2 seeds and with it the first-round bye go to Florida, an underrated Florida State team, and the two teams that seemed to be in the hunt for the top ranking before late season losses, Oregon and Kansas State.

As a refresher the conference champs are:

SEC- Alabama

Big Ten- Wisconsin

Big XII- Kansas State

Pac 12- Stanford

Big East- Louisville

ACC- Florida State

MAC- Northern Illinois

Sun Belt- Arkansas State

Mtn West- Boise State

C-USA- Tulsa

WAC- Utah State

Multiple conferences give us multiple champs. K-State and Oklahoma tied in the Big XII but the Wildcats won the head-to-head (and they both made the field anyway). In the Big East you had the four-way dance of Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati and Syracuse at 5-2. The Bearcats and Orange went 1-2 against their co-champs while Louisville and Rutgers were 2-1. Louisville beat Rutgers so they get the crown.

In the Mountain West Boise State, Fresno State and San Diego State all tied and all beat each other so Boise gets the tie-breaker on the value of their overall 10-2 mark.

Out in the cold are Penn State and THE Ohio State. Sorry kids, not eligible in real life, not eligible here.

I considered multiple bids in the lesser conferences. San Jose St. (10-2 out of what’s left of the WAC) lost by 3 to Stanford but got crushed by Utah State and their most notable win was. . . .what, UC-Davis? Texas State? No one really. They’re out. The Mountain West gives us Fresno State and San Diego State. The Aztecs lost to Washington which hurts and unlike Stanford they beat basically no one. The Bulldogs three losses were to tourney teams (Boise State, Oregon and Tulsa) but other than beating San Diego State their most impressive win was over 6-6 Air Force.

So who from a minor conference is in? Kent State. The loss to Kentucky looks bad (especially given that it wasn’t even close) but they did beat fellow team-under-consideration Rutgers and the Golden Flashes’ only other loss was in double overtime in the MAC title game to Northern Illinois.

Twenty one eligible teams won at least 10 games this season. Nine of them are conference champions. That leaves 12 teams that have 10 wins and are scrapping for an at-large bid. Not looking good for the teams that won nine. Most of those nine-win teams are in minor conferences (Toledo and Ball State), might-as-well-be-minor conferences (Rutgers and Cincinnati) or conferences having a down year (Northwestern).

UCLA getting an at-large bid is fairly simple. They beat Nebraska, Arizona and Southern Cal. Three of their four losses are not so bad, a 9-3 Oregon State, Stanford when they had nothing to play for and Stanford again by three points.

Oregon State also gets in by virtue of wins over Wisconsin, UCLA and Arizona. They lost to Washington, but only by three and lost to Stanford by four.

Last team out was Rutgers. The future B1G member lost to Kent State and Pitt and neither was close. They also lost to Louisville by three. Their most impressive win was, what, Howard? Tulane?

So what do we have? In the first round we have a rematch of the hook-and-lateral/halfback pass/ statue of liberty Fiesta Bowl as Oklahoma visits Boise. Johnny Football will test his mettle against touchdown king Montee Ball as Wisconsin visits Texas A&M. Arkansas visits LSU in a border battle.

In round two Texas A&M could visit former Big XII foe Kansas State. LSU could visit Oregon in a battle of high-powered offense against “offense? What’s offense?” Then it’s Louisville-Stanford to determine weather or not the word “Cardinal” ought to be plural.

There could be a Cocktail Party rematch in the regional final.

Should be fun.

Now we just have to wait two years to complain about the teams left out of the four-team tournament.


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