NCAA Tournament: 2015 College Football Edition

    What if there was a different type of NCAA Tournament for college football teams? Here's how the greatest sport in the land would play out if college football had a field of 64.

    March 17, 2016


    What if there was a different type of NCAA Tournament for college football teams? Here’s how the greatest sport in the land would play out if college football had a field of 64.


    What if college football was able to do an NCAA Tournament in its own way?

    It’s March Madness time so everyone packages life in nice, neat little brackets. This basketball thing might be a fun diversion, but a 68-team football bracket would be next level, so what if …

    It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for – December 6th, 2015 when the brackets are announced for the 2015-2016 68-team college football playoff.

    There aren’t any bowl games – and brackets are created after the conference championships – so this is all based on everything that happened over the course of the regular season.

    No teams with losing records get in, with the seedings being based on top matchups, geography, and avoiding rematches.

    As expected, Clemson earned the No. 1 overall seed, while Alabama, Oklahoma, and Michigan State took the other three top seeds.

    How is this all going to go? Be sure to check out all the first round matchups and what’s going to happen, but in the name of eating dessert first here are the picks to get to the Final Four.

    The College Football Final Four Would Have Been …

    The Complete College Football Tournament Field


    Play-In Games

    No. 16 Indiana (6-6) vs. No. 16 New Mexico (7-5)

    What Would Happen: Indiana 41, New Mexico 27. The Hoosier offense got hot in the second half and opened it up. New Mexico wasn’t able to respond

    No. 16 Middle Tennessee (7-5) vs. No. 16 Virginia Tech (6-6)

    What Would Happen: Virginia Tech 27, Middle Tennessee 23. The Blue Raiders kept it close, but the Hokie pass defense clamped down on a late drive to survive and advance. Middle Tennessee managed to get to the Hokie 12, but a final pass into the end zone was batted away with five seconds to play.

    No. 11 Auburn (6-6) vs. No. 11 Western Michigan (7-5)

    What Would Happen: Western Michigan 34, Auburn 31. The Tigers come in a bit flat, getting down early after turning it over three times in the first quarter. The comeback attempt fell short with WMU going on a key late scoring drive – finished off by a one-yard run from Jamauri Bogan – to put it away.

    No. 11 Texas Tech (7-5) vs. No. 11 Arizona (6-6)

    What Would Happen: Arizona 52, Texas Tech 48. In a wild and crazy offensive shootout that came down to the final possession, Arizona cranked out one big final scoring drive to survive. The two teams combined for over 1,100 yards of total offense.

    MORE: Campus Insiders’ 2016 Interactive NCAA Tournament Bracket

    South Region

    No. 1 Alabama (12-1) vs. No. 16 Indiana (7-6)

    What Would Happen: Alabama 48, Indiana 13. Bama ground out a few big early scoring drives and coasted from there. Indiana running back Jordan Howard was held to just 27 yards, and quarterback Nate Sudfeld was sacked five times and threw here picks.

    No. 8 San Diego State (10-3) vs. No. 9 Bowling Green (10-3)

    What Would Happen: San Diego State 34, Bowing Green 20. The great D rolled over the amazing O. San Diego State got 214 rushing yards and three scores from Donnel Pumphrey, while the defense only allowed three Falcon first half points. BGSU Matt Johnson threw two late touchdown passes.

    No. 5 Northwestern (10-2) vs. No. 12 BYU (9-3)

    What Would Happen: BYU 24, Northwestern 16. The Cougars got by the Cats in an ugly game. There weren’t enough BYU turnovers for NU to capitalize on, with the Wildcats going five straight drives without a first down. BYU bent, but didn’t break, forcing three second half field goals.

    No. 4 Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. No. 13 South Florida (8-4)

    What Would Happen: Oklahoma State 30, South Florida 17. The Cowboys got pounded on a bit, but they’ll had way too much firepower. Mason Rudolph threw two touchdown passes in the second half to help OSU pull away.

    No. 6 Florida (10-3) vs. No. 11 Miami (8-4)

    What Would Happen: Florida 20, Miami 16. The Gator offense sputtered and coughed, but the defense picked up the slack in an ugly win. Florida came up with just 194 yards of total offense, but took advantage of great field position.

    No. 3 TCU (10-2) vs. No. 14 Louisiana Tech (8-4)

    What Would Happen: TCU 41, Louisiana Tech 30. The Bulldogs kept up for a while in the shootout, but the Horned Frog offense was too explosive, pulling away with a big fourth quarter run before the Bulldogs tacked on a few late points.

    No. 7 Arkansas (7-5) vs. No. 10 Washington (6-6)
    What Would Happen: Arkansas 27, Washington 24. In a fantastic game, the Hogs ground its way to the tough win after the Husky defense held up for three quarters before succumbing. Every time Arkansas needed a big drive, it came up with it.

    No. 2 Iowa (12-1) vs. No. 15 Georgia Southern (8-4)

    What Would Happen: Iowa 38, Georgia Southern 14. The Eagles scored first and threw a scare into the Hawkeyes for a half, and then the Iowa D figured out the option attack and rolled from there.

    MORE: Campus Insiders’ 2016 Interactive NCAA Tournament Bracket

    West Region

    No. 1 Oklahoma (11-1) vs. No. 16 Duke (7-5)

    What Would Happen: Oklahoma 44, Duke 20. The Blue Devils got in their share of body blows, but the defense wasn’t able to handle the Sooner balance. Baker Mayfield ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more, but it was the OU ground attack that took over finishing with 312 yards.

    No. 8 Utah (9-3) vs. No. 9 Memphis (7-5)

    What Would Happen: Memphis 31, Utah 30. Paxton Lynch was the difference with a fantastic, 365-yard performance to carry the Tigers to the upset win. The defense struggled to slow down the Utah running game, but Lynch made up for it.

    No. 5 Tennessee (8-4) vs. No. 12 Cincinnati (7-5)

    What Would Happen: Tennessee 44, Cincinnati 10. Butch Jones buried his old team with a big day from the Volunteer defense with five takeaways leading to the blowout. The Vols took a 34-3 lead before the Bearcats got into the end zone.

    No. 4 Michigan (9-3) vs. No. 13 WKU (11-2)

    What Would Happen: Michigan 37, WKU 14. After complaining up until game time about WKU being a tough 13-seed to deal with, Michigan would take care of business with a dominant defensive game – the Wolverines would camp out in the backfield.

    No. 6 USC (8-5) vs. No. 11 Western Michigan (8-5)

    What Would Happen: USC 31, Western Michigan 21. The Trojans would be in for a battle for about a half before the offense took over in the last 20 minutes to pull away. Cody Kessler threw four touchdown passes, but WMU quarterback Zach Terrell threw for over 300 yards.

    No. 3 Ole Miss (9-3) vs. No. 14 Boise State (8-4)

    What Would Happen: Boise State 34, Ole Miss 27. In one of the biggest shockers of the first round, Boise State took advantage of an unfocused and sloppy game from the Rebels. The Broncos benefited from four key takeaways to pull off the upset.

    No. 7 Wisconsin (9-3) vs. No. 10 Arizona State (6-6)

    What Would Happen: Wisconsin 26, Arizona State 17. The Badger running game didn’t work, but the defense and field position became the difference in a tough battle. Time of possession on Bucky’s side turned out to matter – UW had the ball for almost 40 minutes.

    No. 2 Stanford (11-2) vs. No. 15 Air Force (8-5)

    What Would Happen: Stanford 34, Air Force 17. The Cardinal got out to a quick lead and coasted from there. Air Force didn’t have the offense or ability to generate a big comeback, struggling to get the passing game going in the second half.

    MORE: Campus Insiders’ 2016 Interactive NCAA Tournament Bracket

    East Region

    No. 1 Clemson (13-0) vs. No. 16 Middle Tennessee/Virginia Tech preview

    What Would Happen: Clemson 45, Virginia Tech 20. The Frank Beamer retirement tour came to an abrupt halt. A rested Clemson offense rolled, while the defense camped out in the Hokie backfield.

    No. 8 Georgia (9-3) vs. No. 9 Toledo (9-2)

    What Would Happen: Toledo 20, Georgia 17. The Bulldog offense sputtered and coughed, while the defense was stunned by the ultra-effective Toledo ground game. Georgia had ts chances, but it missed over and over again.

    No. 5 Houston (12-1) vs. No. 12 Pitt (8-4)

    What Would Happen: Houston 41, Pitt 17. The Cougars made a big statement that they’re really, really not happy with a No. 5 seed. They came out roaring getting up 24-0 midway through the second quarter – Pitt didn’t get the license plate of the truck.

    No. 4 Baylor (9-3) vs. No. 13 Marshall (9-3)

    What Would Happen: Baylor 55, Marshall 20. The Herd got thundered on by the Baylor offensive balance. The passing game started things out, but the Bear ground game ended it taking over in the second half to make it a blowout.

    No. 6 Mississippi State (8-4) vs. No. 11 California (7-5)

    What Would Happen: Mississippi State 28, California 17. In a great battle of quarterbacks, Dak Prescott outplayed Jared Goff, throwing three touchdown passes and running for another in an impressive win for the Bulldogs. The MSU defensive front sacked Goff five times.

    No. 3 Florida State (10-2) vs. No. 14 Arkansas State (9-3)

    What Would Happen: Florida State 34, Arkansas State 13. The Red Wolves scored first – carrying the banner of the Sun Belt and a disrespectful seed – and then it was all Dalvin Cook as he ran for over 200 yards in the easy win.

    No. 7 Navy (10-2) vs. No. 10 Washington State (8-4)

    What Would Happen: Navy 38, Washington State 34. The Midshipmen weren’t able to stop the Wazzu passing game – when it was on the field. Navy dominated the time of possession just enough hang on, highlighted by a nine-minute scoring drive in the fourth.

    No. 2 Ohio State (11-1) vs. No. 15 Southern Miss (9-4)

    What Would Happen: Ohio State 40, Southern Miss 13. The Buckeyes came out and played with a purpose, scoring two defensive touchdowns while riding the powerful ground game to come up with an easy win.

    Midwest Region

    No. 1 Michigan State (12-1) vs. No. 16 Connecticut (6-6)

    What Would Happen: Michigan State 20, Connecticut 16. The Spartans survived a rough defensive slugfest when the offense couldn’t seem to generate much of anything. MSU came up with just two field goals going into the fourth. Connor Cook came through with two clutch scoring drives to finally end the drama.

    No. 8 West Virginia (7-5) vs. No. 9 Temple (10-3)

    What Would Happen: Temple 28, West Virginia 24. The Owl defense came up with two key late stops just as it seemed the Mountaineer offense was going to take over. A +3 turnover margin made all the difference in Temple’s upset.

    No. 5 North Carolina (11-2) vs. No. 13 Penn State (7-5)

    What Would Happen: North Carolina 20, Penn State 14. The Tar Heels were ticked by the low seed, but they couldn’t do much about it against the nasty Nittany Lion defense. Fortunately for UNC, the Penn State O was punchless.

    No. 4 UCLA (8-4) vs. No. 14 NC State (7-5)

    What Would Happen: UCLA 30, NC State 16. It was hardly a pretty performance. UCLA was just a little worse than the Wolfpack, with the Bruin D holding firm allowing field goals on a few long Wolfpack drives.

    No. 4 LSU (8-3) vs. No. 11 Arizona (7-6)

    What Would Happen: LSU 27, Arizona 13. The Tigers were methodical and effective, running without a problem behind the power of Leonard Fournette, while the defense came up with one of its better performances, attacking from the start.

    No. 3 Oregon (9-3) vs. No. 15 Appalachian State (10-2)

    What Would Happen: Oregon 41, Appalachian State 24. Marcus Cox ran well for the Mountaineers, but the Oregon offense would kick it into high gear after a slow first quarter on the way to an easy win.

    No. 7 Texas A&M (8-4) vs. No. 10 Louisville (7-5)

    What Would Happen: Louisville 34, Texas A&M 23. The Cardinals got the offensive punch it needed from Lamar Jackson and a running game that did whatever it wanted. Texas A&M had a good offensive burst in the third quarter to get back in the game, but Louisville answered right back to put the game away.

    No. 2 Notre Dame (10-2) vs. No. 16 Colorado State (7-5)

    What Would Happen: Notre Dame 34, Colorado State 14. The Ram passing game came up with a few good plays here and there, but the Irish offensive balance turned out to be way too much. The Irish controlled the game from the start.

    MORE: Campus Insiders’ 2016 Interactive NCAA Tournament Bracket

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