Welcome to the first annual Selection Show for the simulated Golden Bowl Tournament – your chance to see what a playoff would be like. If you want a playoff in college football, it’ll probably take the form here. Here are the parameters of the tournament:
- 11 teams are selected from the Conference Champions of all teams
- 5 more teams are selected from an at-large pool consisting of all other teams
- First round games on campus sites; subsequent rounds at bowl sites based on traditional affiliations and regional interest
Soon after I announce each octofinal pairing, the polls will open so you can vote to determine who moves on. The conference champions with auto bids are Virginia Tech, LSU, Ohio State, West Virginia, Oklahoma, BYU, USC, Hawaii, Central Florida, Central Michigan, and Florida Atlantic. Missouri, Georgia, Florida, Boston College, and Kansas have been selected as at-large teams.
Due to delays (damn you, Washington-Hawaii!) I’m not exactly done with all the seeding and pairing, so this will be a fairly slow process. But all in all, good luck to all our teams, especially our Number 1 seed, Virginia Tech.
#16 Central Michigan (MAC champion) v. #1 Virginia Tech (ACC champion)
I mentioned in an earlier post that the reason including ALL champions is actually a strength of my system is that it encourages the top teams to keep fighting for the tippy-top seeds. But both the 1 and 2 seeds (#2 will face the Sun Belt champ) are going to face tough opponents. Central Michigan’s only loss in-conference came to Eastern Michigan, and the Chippewas managed to knock off what was probably a better Ball State team. The Hokies’ two main advantages are home field and a superb defense.
#15 Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt champion) v. #2 Georgia (at-large)
Florida Atlantic, only a couple years removed from entering I-A, defeated a solid, 3-loss Troy team, one that managed to knock off Oklahoma State earlier in the year, on the road to win the Sun Belt title. Don’t count out their chances to mount a similar upset against a team so many people think is on fire. Look for a big marquee match-up between the Owls’ hot passing attack and the Bulldogs’ stouch defense in this battle of Southern teams.
#14 Central Florida (Conference USA champion) v. #3 Kansas (at-large)
The question here is simple: Can Kevin Smith, the nation’s leading running back whose lack of accolades UCF fans have been decrying, crack Kansas’ #6 rushing defense and prove he deserves every accolade denied him? Already the storylines are writing themselves!
#13 BYU (Mountain West champion) v. #4 Florida (at-large)
Yes, Tigers fans, I know you beat Florida, but at home. Fortunately, the bracket lays out for the two of you to decide it on a neutral site as soon as the quarterfinals. And while LSU gets a significant challenge in Round 1, rest assured that Florida will get a battle from BYU, the #7 rushing and #10 overall yardage defense in the country, as well. Since Florida lacks a rushing attack beyond Tim Tebow, expect this to be a pass-happy game. With Florida itself being #10 in rushing defense, BYU will probably do the same, and they are #13 in passing offense. Trust me, this could be fun to watch, and BYU has a legit chance to pull one out in the Swamp.
Quarterfinal sites: 1/16/8/9 to Cotton Bowl; 2/15/7/10 to Capital One Bowl; 3/14/6/11 to Fiesta Bowl; 4/13/5/12 to Orange Bowl.
#12 Hawaii (WAC champion) v. #5 LSU (SEC champion)
Congratulations, Hawaii, on your undefeated season! Your reward: A date, in the very first round, with one of the teams in the real-life national championship game. Before you pout, mid-major fans, know that I could have very easily rated Hawaii ahead of USC, but didn’t mainly to maintain the Big 10-Pac-10 champions’ matchup occuring in the semifinal, which I would assign to the Rose Bowl. LSU’s got a good defense, but it could have its hands full with the up-and-down, high-scoring offense of Colt Brennan and Hawaii. LSU will have to rely on its own powerful offense to crack the Warriors’ armor.
#11 USC (Pac-10 champion) v. #6 Boston College (at-large)
Sorry, Trojans, try beating some good teams other than Arizona State and not losing to Stanford. This is another game that will come down to the passing attack: Boston College has the top rushing defense in the country (a possible challenge for USC rushing prodigy Joe McKnight) and USC is #4. That means it comes down to which QB can outplay the other: Matt Ryan or John David Booty. Quick warning to Ryan: SC is good on defense no matter what you do. It’ll be interesting to see if USC can still beat teams the way they’re used to when their playing in the cold, frigid Northeast.
This means that the #2 seed’s half of the bracket will play in the Rose Bowl, and #1’s half will play in the Sugar Bowl, for the semifinals.
#10 Missouri (at-large) v. #7 Ohio State (Big 10 champion)
Can Chase Daniel beat Ohio State’s top-ranked passing defense and 4th-ranked rushing defense in the Horseshoe? If anyone can, it’s the #6 passing offense of the Tigers. Also, this is one of the shorter gaps between two teams in the octofinals in terms of geographic distance, so don’t be surprised to find some Missouri gold littering the stands. You want to tell me you wouldn’t love to see this in a playoff format?
#9 West Virginia (Big East champion) v. #8 Oklahoma (Big 12 champion)
Okay, so this is the same as the real-life Fiesta Bowl. The difference is that the Mountaineers will have to go to Oklahoma to play the game. Oklahoma will still have an edge in the real-life game because that’ll be even further from Morgantown. The #11 Sooner rushing defense will try to contain the #4 rushing offense keyed by Pat White and Steve Slaton. Meanwhile, the #4 defense by overall yardage will try to contain the #3 offense by points put up. Will the Big East prove it deserves to be considered a top-caliber conference when its champion knocks off the champion of the Big 12? (Oh, how important it is to keep winning. West Virginia likely would have not only hosted a game, but landed a seed as high as fourth, if they had just taken care of Pittsburgh.)
All polls close next Sunday at 5 PM PST. Track the bracket here.