Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Illinois Hoosier National Championship

Welcome to the national championship game. We're at the Orange Bowl in Miami for the finals of the 8-team Illinois Hoosier college football playoff. Florida, the 8 seed, faces Oregon, the 4 seed.

The Gators reached the finals by upsetting Alabama in the quarterfinals and TCU in the semifinal round. It is not a complete surprise the lowest-seeded team reached the finals. Florida was undefeated and ranked No. 1 the entire season, until Alabama pulled the upset to gain the No. 1 seed in the tournament.

Oregon may be somewhat of a surprise in the finals, but in reality the Ducks are a product of the draw. Oregon beat Ohio State at first round, then Cincinnati in the semifinals. Both teams were not considered real championship contenders.

Florida has to enter the game as the favorite, given its two huge wins since losing the SEC Championship and the location of the game. But don't discount Oregon's chances. The Ducks knocked off USC, Utah, California and Oregon State, all of which are ranked. They also score an average of nearly 38 points per game.

Unfortunately, Florida has nearly as powerful an offense, averaging more than 34 points per game. The Gators also have a defense that can win games by itself. They give up less than 12 points per game. The Oregon defense allows nearly 24 points per game.

Defense is the difference in this game. The two teams play to a 14-14 tie in the first half, but Florida makes an adjustment at halftime and in the third quarter, Oregon has trouble moving the ball. The Ducks can manage only 35 yards of total offense in the third quarter and two first downs. Meanwhile, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow takes over, throwing for a touchdown and rushing for another in the period.

Florida tries to sit on the lead in the fourth quarter, but Oregon makes it interesting. Jeremiah Masoli throws a 55-yard touchdown after a Florida defender falls down in coverage to cut the lead to seven, then leads the Ducks on another long drive that results in a field goal.

The Gators' lead 28-24 with 5 minutes to go. Oregon pulls out all the stops on defense and gets the ball back with 2 minutes left. Masoli gets the team across midfield with 10 seconds to go, but the hail Mary pass falls incomplete.

Florida wins its fourth national championship since 1996 and Tebow graduates among the most decorated college football players ever. TV ratings are off the charts, beating the best figures for any BCS championship game. There is talk in the future it could rival the Super Bowl in popularity and viewership.

The revenue generated by the tournament is unprecedented in college football. And bowl committees find the traditional bowl games, many of which were still played, still drew more than enough fans. There is general agreement the new idea was a success and college presidents begin to talk about whether the playoff can be expanded to 16 teams.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let the College Football Playoff begin

The only way major college football will ever move to a playoff is to continue applying pressure. If enough fans and others demand it, the powers that be may change their minds. It is with that objective that I present 2009 Illinois Hoosier National Championship.

My rules are simple:

1. The big six conference champions automatically qualify: Alabama (SEC), Texas (Big 12), Ohio State (Big Ten), Oregon (Pac 10), Cincinnati (Big East), and Georgia Tech (ACC).
2. Two "wild card" teams complete the eight-team bracket. They are the two highest-ranked teams in the Bowl Championship Series rankings without an automatic bid. This year, those two teams are: TCU (No. 4) and Florida (No. 5). Boise State, which completed another undefeated season, is edged out.
3. All eight teams are seeded based on BCS rankings, but conference champions will be seeded higher than wild cards. Alabama is the top seed, followed by Texas, Cincinnati, Oregon, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, TCU, and Florida.
4. Quarterfinal games are played at the higher seeds' home field. The semifinals and finals are played at BCS bowl stadiums. The Rose Bowl continues to insist on the Big Ten-Pac 10 match-up on New Year's Day, but once every four years it will host the national championship game.


1. Florida at Alabama: Can you imagine the hype around this game? Florida gets a second chance to beat the Crimson Tide after a thumping in the SEC Championship game. This time the game is not on a neutral field, however, which should give the Tide some advantage.

Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram of Alabama has another big game, rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown, but Florida quarterback Tim Tebow does not turn the ball over this time. He throws for 250 yards and a TD again, but also rushes for a TD. The Gators pull the upset with a late field goal, 31-28.

2. TCU at Texas: Wow! Another huge match-up. The Longhorns are looking to prove their clunker in the Big 12 Championship was a fluke, while TCU is looking to prove they deserve to be among the elite teams. Oh, and by the way, the game is between two teams in the state of Texas.

Texas has holes in its game and TCU exposes them in this game. The Horned Frogs score a late touchdown to win it 24-21.

3. Georgia Tech at Cincinnati: This game carries a bunch of questions. How will Cincinnati respond to the departure of its coach to Notre Dame? Can the Bearcats' defense handle the triple-option offense? Is Georgia Tech, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, a deserving participant over Boise State?

The game is played on a snowy December day in southern Ohio. As with their game against Pittsburgh, the Bearcats struggle early and by halftime the team is trailing by two touchdowns. But the team rallies, taking the lead in the fourth quarter. Georgia Tech is stopped inside the Cincinnati 20 on its final drive, securing the win. Cincinnati escapes, 34-28.

4. Ohio State at Oregon: This would have been the traditional Rose Bowl game. Instead the Buckeyes travel to Eugene, Ore. It is a match-up of two big-time quarterbacks, Terrelle Pryor and Jeremiah Masoli. The Ducks speed and spread offense was too much for USC and is too much for Ohio State, too. The crowd also hands Oregon a touchdown. OSU falls 35-17.


1. Florida v. TCU at the Sugar Bowl: There is no true home field advantage in this game, because it is close to both schools. TCU is flying high after its upset of Texas, but Florida is a different animal. The Gators don't suffer the same let-down and pound TCU 28-10. Florida scores on its first two possessions and does not allow a touchdown in the first half. TCU scores its only TD late in the fourth quarter after it has been decided.

2. Cincinnati v. Oregon at the Fiesta Bowl: Cincinnati is another newbie to the big stage, but in a way so is Oregon. Both teams find themselves playing for a chance to reach the biggest of stages. The Bearcats already find themselves in the biggest game in school history, while Oregon has played in Rose Bowls before.

Without the coach that got them there, Cincinnati was playing with house money. This game it is time to pay up. Oregon wins, but never takes full control of the game. Final score: 31-21.

That sets up the national championship game, to be played at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Florida will face Oregon the first week of the new year. The game will come a few days after the other bowl games.

Who will be my national champion? Stay tuned...

By the way, here is a link to my 2007 Illinois Hoosier National Championship.