Your votes fuel a 16-team college football tournament
Posted: Wednesday December 5, 2007 12:08PM; Updated: Wednesday December 5, 2007 1:30PM
Here's how SI.com's playoff works. Using the final BCS rankings, we seeded the top 16 teams in order. To avoid inter-conference matchups in the first round, we made two simple adjustments (swapping Arizona State and Florida in the seeding process, as well as Illinois and Boston College). For the purpose of this simulation, we are going to assume that all "banged up" players (Tim Tebow, Glenn Dorsey, etc.) will take part in the action. We will be crowning a champion next week. So start voting and let your voice be heard.
No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 16 Tennessee: The Volunteers were the last team to get in to this tournament, just ahead of BYU. Their reward? A date with the No. 1 team in the country.
The Buckeyes' strength is their defense, which ranks first nationally in total defense (225.25 yards per game) and scoring defense (10.7 points per game). Led by star DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State also ranks third in sacks (42). But the Buckeyes' talented front seven may find it difficult to apply pressure on Tennessee QB Erik Ainge -- the Vols have allowed just four sacks all season (first nationally).
Tennessee's defense has left something to be desired all season long, especially against the pass. The Volunteers apply minimal pressure on opposing QBs, so Buckeyes signal-caller Todd Boeckman could have a big game.
No. 2 LSU vs. No. 15 Clemson: In this battle among opposing Tigers, defense is king. LSU ranks third in total defense and fifth in turnover margin, while Clemson ranks sixth in total defense and ninth in turnover margin. LSU's offense has been more consistent than Clemson's throughout the season. After Ryan Perrilloux's MVP performance in the SEC title game, Les Miles may go back to regularly using two quarterbacks in this game. Clemson's offense hasn't been as explosive as many predicted, but the Tigers still have the potential to put up points in a hurry. Clemson QB Cullen Harper has been impressively efficient (67 percent completion rate, 27 TDs, six interceptions) in his first year as the starter. Harper threw for 372 yards against a talented Virginia Tech defense, but he also had two interceptions, once of which was returned for a TD. Against LSU's speedy D, Harper will need some significant help from "Thunder and Lightning," James Davis and C.J. Spiller.
No. 3 Virginia Tech vs. No. 14 Illinois: Following a heartbreaking loss to Boston College in late October, the Hokies finished the regular season by rolling off five straight victories in convincing fashion (winning by an average of 19.8 points). One of the biggest keys to Virginia Tech's hot streak has been Frank Beamer's decision to split time between two vastly different quarterbacks: Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor. Glennon excels in a traditional pocket-passer role, while Taylor beats defenses with his legs. Illinois' defense has done a good job of keeping points off the board, but it's not impenetrable. This game will be decided by how well the plucky Fighting Illini offense can fare against Virginia Tech's vaunted defense. Can Juice Williams and Rashard Mendenhall slay the Hokies?
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Boston College: This matchup centers around two quarterbacks at different stages in their career. Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford is just a freshman, but he finished the regular season as the nation's leader in pass efficiency (34 TDs, seven picks) and has thrown at least three touchdown passes in eight games this season. Bradford has to be salivating over this draw, as the Eagles rank 103rd in pass defense. On the other side, Matt Ryan is putting the finishing touches on a fabulous career at Boston College. A projected first-round pick in the '08 NFL Draft, Ryan's skill set draws rave reviews. Usually known as a defensive powerhouse, Oklahoma has struggled a fair amount this season. The Sooners were on point against Missouri in the Big 12 title game, though, terrorizing Heisman candidate Chase Daniel all game. Ryan should be tested by Bob Stoops' rejuvenated bunch.