Welcome to the third annual Selection Show Announcement for the simulated Golden Bowl Tournament – your chance to see what a playoff would be like. If you want a playoff in college football, especially if it was handled by the NCAA, it’ll probably take the form here. Here are the parameters of the tournament:
- 11 teams are selected from the Conference Champions of all conferences
- 5 more teams are selected from an at-large pool consisting of all other teams
- First and second round games on campus sites; semifinals at any two of the Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, and Capital One Bowl, determined by regional interest (in actuality, it would rotate between the Sugar, Rose, Orange, and either Cotton or Cap One); the National Championship to be held at the Rose Bowl
The conference champions with auto bids are Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati, TCU, Boise State, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Oregon, East Carolina, Central Michigan, and Troy. Virginia Tech, Miami (FL), Iowa, Florida, and LSU have been selected as at-large teams.
Good luck to all our teams, especially our Number 1 seed, Alabama.
Octofinal matchups (technically played last weekend):
#16 Troy (Sun Belt champion) v. #1 Alabama (SEC champion)
Alabama gets the top seed (and it wasn’t even close) despite an atrocious out-of-conference schedule outside the V-Tech game. Troy has become the Sun Belt’s dominant team, going undefeated in conference, but while they won’t have to leave the state, they do get a second straight 16 seed and will have to try and find a way to get past a defense that was tops in the nation in points allowed and to stop this year’s real-life Heisman winner. (Not in the Golden Bowl-verse, since the Heisman ceremony obviously couldn’t be the same weekend many of the contenders would be playing.)
#15 East Carolina (C-USA champion) v. #2 Cincinnati (Big East champion)
Read on to find out why East Carolina doesn’t get a rematch of last year’s game against Texas. Instead they must find a way to stop Cincinnati’s high-powered offense. This game is played days after Brian Kelly is announced as the next head coach of Notre Dame; with such a theoretically easy first-round opponent, does he bail on the team just days before the game? It’s probably impossible to simulate.
#14 Central Michigan (MAC champion) v. #3 Florida (at-large)
Despite losing the SEC Championship Game Florida still gets a cupcake in the form of a team that went unbeaten in conference, same as Alabama. But they also get star quarterback Dan LeFevour, who has done much to turn Central Michigan into a perennial MAC power. But he hasn’t faced a defense as all-around strong as Florida, or had to outplay Tim Tebow.
#13 Boise State (WAC champion) v. #4 Georgia Tech (ACC champion)
Every year, the ACC gets a number of high-RPI teams, teams you wouldn’t normally think of as being that good. Two years ago Virginia Tech was the #1 seed, last year Georgia Tech got the last at-large (and outseeded the conference champion), and this year the ACC gets two at-larges and G-Tech outseeds Texas, if barely. Boise State shouldn’t be too upset at getting the unlucky number 13 seed that denotes “worst good team”, meaning there’s no chance of a game on the blue turf, because I placed them where they are mostly so as to avoid an all-unbeaten first round matchup, postponing a Texas showdown to the quarterfinals. G-Tech’s triple option had the second-best running attack in the country, but Boise State was tops in the nation in overall points per game, so expect a very exciting, high-scoring contest.
#12 Ohio State (Big Ten champion) v. #5 Texas (Big 12 champion)
The Big 12 had a down year, with its second-highest RPI team being Oklahoma State, and Texas’ strength of schedule was hurt accordingly. Ohio State is forced into the bottom two “good team” seeds by Oregon falling to the 8-9 game, seeded below Iowa, helped by bad losses (USC was #37 in the RPI), a questionable out-of-conference schedule, and a nonexistent road resume outside Penn State. The result: a replay of last year’s real-life Fiesta Bowl, and of a regular season series in the two prior years, against the #4 team in the nation in scoring. It’s also a showdown of two quarterback studs in Colt McCoy and Terrell Pryor, where the key will be which one can get past the other team’s top-five defense.
#11 Virginia Tech (at-large) v. #6 TCU (Mountain West champion)
Honestly, the seeding process for seeds 6-13 was such a disaster I’m ignoring this year’s results for comparison purposes in future years. My brain was burned out from constantly chasing school deadlines all quarter and a lot of the time I could barely concentrate while doing the work, and I think my comparison criteria changed as I went along because LSU was the last at-large in the field but definitely isn’t the lowest-seeded at-large. A lot of the seeding from 4-13 was done to fit my bracketing criteria, namely, postponing conference rematches as late as possible (for example, LSU can’t be the 11) and Big Ten-Pac-10 champions meet in the Rose Bowl, more than anything else. It doesn’t help that this year is one of the biggest arguments against my system I’ve yet seen; without major upsets, Florida is the only real deserving at-large (and based on the BCS standings, the only change in the at-larges would be Miami (FL) beating Penn State for the last spot – yet I still didn’t find the resumes of Oregon, Ohio State, and Boise State strong enough for first-round home games) and they greatly reduced the importance of the SEC championship game by still getting a top-3 seed. Anyway, TCU is a rare non-BCS school that got where they are with defense, allowing fewer yards than anyone (and the second-fewest rushing yards), yet still managed to rack up stats on offense. V-Tech’s best hope: their own passing defense, and Beamer Ball.
#10 LSU (at-large) v. #7 Iowa (at-large)
Iowa will have home field advantage and a top-notch pass defense. If Les Miles’ squad can knock them off, it’ll be a major chip on the shoulder of SEC backers.
#9 Oregon (Pac-10 champion) v. #8 Miami (FL) (at-large)
Some Oregon and Pac-10 backers might bitterly suggest I took the advice of fictional Pete Carroll (who might have continued the streak in the Golden Bowl-verse) and placed the game in the warm-weather climate at the expense of a potentially once-in-a-decade chance at a tournament game in Autzen Stadium (the Dolphins played in Jacksonville last weekend, so Dolphin Land Shark Stadium was free). Maybe, or maybe the Hurricanes didn’t lose to Stanford (RPI #50), beat G-Tech even if at home, and beat more than one team in the RPI top 50 on the road. The Ducks’ high-powered offense, led by Jeremiah Masoli and potentially further helped by LeGarrette Blount, will still be a handful for the Hurricanes to stop.
The half of the bracket containing the 1 seed will play in the Rose Bowl for the semifinal; the half of the bracket containing the 2 seed will play in the Sugar Bowl, meaning if seeds hold (except for Texas knocking off Georgia Tech), both semifinals won’t need to be simulated because they’ll reflect real bowls at the same sites. First-round results from Whatifsports.com coming later today.