Over the last 2 years, Ryan and I had a great time trying to bring some sense into college football by taking the 120 teams and splitting them up into 12 10-team conferences. We then took those new conference alignments and played out a simulation on whatifsports.com. Ryan posted the results of his sim back in January, and even though I did a sim of my own, I never got around to actually posting it on here. Well, finally, here it is. Since of course, in late February, college football is a pretty hot topic. Here are some of my top level notes, much like what Ryan did.
– Unlike Ryan, not all of my conference champions went 9-0, only 8 did, while 3 went 8-1 in conference and 1 actually went 7-2 in conference.
– My strongest conference was the Appalachian, who went 65-55 overall.
– The worst conference was the Midwest at 54-66 overall, just awful.
– 4 BCS teams didn’t make the tournament, including BCS title game finalist Texas, and Georgia Tech, who finished last in their conference. The teams that made it were Florida, Alabama, Ohio State, Iowa, TCU, and Boise State.
– The only extremely surprising last place team I had in any conference was Georgia Tech
– I had 5 12-0 teams overall, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Nebraska, Alabama, and TCU
– I had 3 0-12 teams overall, Eastern Michigan, Western Kentucky, and New Mexico State
Here are the results, conference by conference by conference.
New England – Champion: Penn State
The Nittany Lions lost a non-conference game to Cincinnati and then suffered a shocking defeat at in-state rival Temple. Needing help, Boston College provided it by dispatching Rutgers in the final week of the season to send Penn State to the playoff. For finishing 10-2, they got the #8 seed.
Order of finish: Penn State, Rutgers, Boston College, Syracuse, Buffalo, UConn, Temple, Maryland, Navy, Army
Appalachian – Champion: Virginia Tech
The Hokies pulled off an undefeated season in the toughest conference in my sim, giving them the #1 seed overall in the tournament. Cincinnati also finished 11-1, while Pittsburgh and West Virginia finished 9-3. The most interesting thing in this conference is that each team had 1 less win than the team above them, and each team beat all of the teams that finished below them and lost to all of the teams that finished above them with no exceptions.
Order of Finish: Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky, Virginia, Marshall, Miami (OH)
Great Lakes – Champion: Ohio State
The Buckeyes dominated this extremely uncompetitive conference again this year, going undefeated and grabbing the 5 seed in the tourney. The 4 teams behind them all went 6-3 in conference.
Order of Finish: Ohio State, Central Michigan, Kent State, Michigan State, Michigan, Bowling Green, Toledo, Akron, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan
Tobacco Road – Champion: Tennessee
This was an extremely wild and parity filled conference. Tennessee, North Carolina, East Carolina, and Duke all finished 8-4, with the first 2 teams going 7-2 in conference and the last 2 going 6-3. Middle Tennessee and Memphis also finished 1 game back at 7-5. Duke lost to Wake Forest, North Carolina, and East Carolina. East Carolina lost to NC State, Middle Tennessee, and with all of the marbles on the line, Tennessee in the final week. North Carolina lost to East Carolina and Tennessee, and Tennessee lost to Duke and Wake Forest. Despite those 2 bad losses, Tennessee won the games they needed to win to get the tiebreaker and the conference title, and of course, they entered the tournament as the 12 seed.
Order of Finish: Tennessee, North Carolina, East Carolina, Duke, Middle Tennessee, Memphis, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, NC State, Western Kentucky
Midwest – Champion: Iowa
In a conference filled with non-conference losses, Iowa finished on top with an 8-1 conference record, 9-3 overall. Iowa only got the 11 seed for this. Some local teams of note, Minnesota went 7-5 (6-3), Purdue went 5-7 (4-5), Notre Dame went 4-8 (3-6), and Indiana was 3-9 (2-7).
Order of Finish: Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, Ball State, Notre Dame, Illinois, Indiana.
Florida – Champion: Florida
Makes sense, right? The only big surprise here was that the Gators only finished 11-1, losing a conference game to Central Florida. They earned the #7 seed in the tournament.
Order of Finish: Florida, Southern Miss, Miami (FL), Central Florida, South Florida, Troy, Florida State, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Tulane.
Great Plains – Champion: Nebraska
Nebraska’s defense was out of control this year, and they cruised to a 12-0 record and the #3 seed in the tournament. They only gave up 127 points all season and took out Oklahoma to lock up the conference.
Order of Finish: Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Kansas, Iowa State, Tulsa.
Dixie – Champion: Alabama
The Crimson Tide, the real life national champs, dominated even more than Nebraska, and went 12-0 and got the #2 seed in the tournament. They got a 76-3 win over Florida State, 81-7 over Mississippi, and 69-10 over South Carolina. They outscored their regular season opponents 709-123.
Order of Finish: Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Louisiana-Monroe, Alabama-Birmingham, Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia Tech.
Gulf Coast – Champion: TCU
This conference came down to 1 game, TCU at Texas. The horned frogs escaped Austin with a 31-26 win en route to a 12-0 season and the #4 seed in the tournament. Houston did surprisingly well too, finishing 7-2.
Order of Finish: TCU, Texas, Houston, LSU, North Texas, Rice, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, SMU.
Mountain West – Champion: BYU
Interesting conference race, where the Cougars started the season 0-3 (losing to Texas, Arizona, and Oregon) but then went on to run the table in conference, finishing 9-0 and 9-3 overall. They grabbed the #10 seed in the tournament. Texas Tech and Air Force both went 9-3 overall, but lost to BYU in the conference.
Order of Finish: BYU, Texas Tech, Air Force, UTEP, Baylor, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Colorado State, New Mexico State
Great Basin – Champion: Boise State
The Broncos went 9-0 in conference and 11-1 overall, only losing to TCU, who they beat in real life at the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon State, Oregon, and Utah also had strong showings, going 9-3.
Order of Finish: Boise State, Oregon State, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Utah State, Washington, UNLV, Washington State
California – Champion: USC
The Trojans, like BYU, had a rough non-conference schedule. losing to Boise State, Texas Tech, and TCU (51-0), but they then went on to run the table and win the conference title, even though Cal finished with a better overall record at 10-2. This performance got USC the 9 seed.
Order of Finish: USC, California, Arizona State, Arizona, San Diego State, Stanford, UCLA, Fresno State, San Jose State, Hawaii.
Well the tournament is set here are the results:
#8 Penn State vs. #9 USC – PSU wins 4
1-37. USC had the lead at half time by Penn State scored 3 TDs in the 3rd. USC fought back to take the lead in the 4th off punt and fumble returns for TDs, but Evan Royster (241 rushing yards) scored the game winning TD to give Penn State the win.
#5 Ohio State vs. #12 Tennessee – OSU wins 40-17. Tennessee tied the game up in the 3rd at 17, but Ohio State scored 23 unanswered points to cruise to the win. Terrelle Pryor had only 47 yards passing and 2 INTs, but the running game and defense of OSU put them over the top.
#6 Boise State vs. #11 Iowa – Boise wins 55-20 – Ricky Stanzi throws 4 interceptions while Kellen Moore throws 5 TDs to bury the Hawkeyes soundly.
#7 Florida vs. #10 BYU – Florida wins 29-14 – BYU took an early 14-6 lead, but Florida scored 23 unanswered points. BYU went for it on 4th down and didn’t convert several times deep in Florida territory in the 2nd half instead of attempting a field goal.
#1 Virginia Tech vs. #8 Penn State – PSU wins 16-7 – Evan Royster had 147 yards rushing and VT couldn’t get anything going offensively all game.
#4 TCU vs. #5 Ohio State – TCU wins 16-9 – Not a whole lot of offense in this one. TCU had a 13-9 lead heading into the 4th, but Ohio State squandered all chances of tying the game repeatedly. Terrelle Pryor only had 9 yards passing.
#3 Nebraska vs. #6 Boise State – BSU wins 31-17 – Jeremy Avery runs for 198 yards and 2 TDs. Boise led the whole game, but Nebraska cut it within 7 in the 4th before Boise scored the final touchdown.
#2 Alabama vs. #7 Florida – Florida wins 28-21 – Florida jumped out to an early lead in this one, 20-0, but Alabama fought back to make it 20-14. Florida scored their 2nd and 3rd TDs on 84 and 70 yard runs by Chris Rainey and Jeffery Demps. Ingram had 147 yards and 3 TDs but it wasn’t enough as Florida does what it couldn’t do in real life, beat Alabama on a neutral field.
#4 TCU vs. #8 Penn State – TCU wins 17-10 – TCU defense dominates again and holds Penn State scoreless in the first half. Penn State finally broke through with a 59 yard TD run by Evan Royster, but it came after a 77 yard run by Edward Wesley that set up TCUs final touchdown.
#6 Boise State vs. #7 Florida – Florida wins 43-29 – Florida had a narrow 16-13 lead near the end of the 2nd when Tim Tebow personally blew this game open. Tebow scored on a 55 yard TD run, and after a quick punt, threw a 58 yard TD pass before the half to give Florida a 30-13 lead. Boise tried to come back in the 2nd half, but it was never really close.
The Championship Game
#4 TCU vs. #7 Florida – TCU wins 30-10 – TCU took an early 21-0 lead, capitalizing off of 2 missed Florida field goals. Jeffery Demps had a 75 yard TD run for Florida’s only TD of the game, and Tim Tebow was held to only 59 yards passing and 8 yards rushing as the best defense in the nation wins their first national title since 1938 (or last year, if you go by Ryan’s sim).
Like Ryan, I used the results of the last couple of years to develop new pods for non-conference games. Here they are:
Group 1: Appalachian, Great Plains, Florida, Midwest
Group 2: Dixie, Great Basin, Tobacco Road, Great Lakes
Group 3: Mountain West, California, New England, Gulf Coast
So what did I learn? These sims are time consuming, but a lot of fun! I’m looking forward to doing this again next year.