College Football Playoff Rewind: 2009 Final Four From WhatIfSports.com image

What-if Rewind: 2009 College Football Playoff

BCS got this one right as Alabama and Texas meet in the championship

By Jake Westrich - WhatIfSports.com
July 18, 2012

The recent and long-awaited decision to expand the BCS National Championship Game to a four-team playoff was met with much fanfare, even if the resolution fell a little short of the eight-team tournament many had hoped for.

The folks at WhatIfSports.com couldn't help but ask the obvious question: What if a four-team playoff had been in place since the BCS first began in 1998? Using our college football simulation engine, we'll take a retrospective look to see how a few championships might have gone down had a playoff been in place.

This week, we step back to 2009.

When the dust settled on the regular season, five teams claimed undefeated records, including the top four in the final BCS standings. Alabama captured the No. 1 ranking by defeating previously-unbeaten and reigning national champion Florida in the SEC championship. Texas, meanwhile, snuck into the No. 2 spot in controversial fashion. A video replay placed one second back on the clock in the Big 12 championship and allowed Longhorns kicker Hunter Lawrence to nail a 46-yard field goal as time expired, securing a 13-12 victory over Nebraska. Cincinnati, TCU and Boise State also finished the regular season with unblemished records, ranking No. 3, No. 4 and No. 6, respectively, in the final BCS standings.

Boise State will have to watch this one from the sidelines as we advance the top four into a playoff.

2009 college football playoff

Playoff seeding based on BCS rankings.

Note: We simulated teams at full strength, starting Colt McCoy for Texas (injured in BCS Championship) and Tony Pike for Cincinnati (injured in sixth game). You can re-simulate any matchup yourself with Garrett Gilbert as Texas's QB or Zach Collaros as Cincinnati's QB for FREE using the links below.

2009 College Football Semifinal
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
(1) Alabama84.531.9Simulate Game
(4) TCU15.517.9

2009 Alabama
Record: 14-0 (National Champions)
Team MVP: Mark Ingram
(1,658 rush yards / 17 TDs)

2009 TCU
Record: 12-1 (Fiesta Bowl loss)
Team MVP: Andy Dalton
(2,756 pass yards / 23 TDs)

2009 College Football Semifinal
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
(2) Texas56.828.4Simulate Game
(3) Cincinnati43.226.4

2009 Texas
Record: 13-1 (National Runner-up)
Team MVP: Colt McCoy
(3,521 pass yards / 27 TDs)

2009 Cincinnati
Record: 12-1 (Sugar Bowl loss)
Team MVP: Tony Pike / Zach Collaros
(3,954 pass yards / 39 TDs)

2009 College Football Title Game
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
(1) Alabama74.528.2Simulate Game
(2) Texas25.518.4Sample Boxscore

Simulated Title Game: Recap

The BCS Playoff Championship Game got under way as Alabama kicked off to Texas. The Longhorns slowly advanced up the field before a 23-yard bruising run by Tre' Newton put the team in striking distance. A false start and a sack impeded the Longhorns' efforts, and a pass from Colt McCoy to Dan Buckner in the end zone fell incomplete. Texas settled for a 38-yard field goal, which Lawrence punched in for a 3-0 lead.

Things didn't begin so quickly for the Crimson Tide. As the second quarter began, Alabama punted for the third time, having yet to flirt with the end zone. Their luck changed midway through the quarter when Mark Ingram broke free for a 27-yard gain. Two plays later, freshman Trent Richardson ran 38 yards up the middle for paydirt and a 7-3 Alabama lead.

Two more field goals helped the Longhorns recapture the lead heading into the half, the latter coming with just 15 seconds remaining to secure a 9-7 advantage.

Final Four BCS Rankings: 1998-2011
ConferenceAppearances
Big 12 14
SEC 14
Pac-10/12 9
Big Ten 8
Big East 5
ACC 4
Non-Big 6 2

Alabama backpedalled on the opening possession of the second half, surrendering prime field position to Texas. The Longhorns' drive fell short of the end zone yet again though, and Lawrence booted his fourth field goal of the game to extend the Texas advantage to 12-7.

The Crimson Tide responded with a field goal of their own as Leigh Tiffin demonstrated his range on a 49-yard try. It appeared as though Texas would hold a 12-10 edge heading into the fourth quarter, but Ingram saw things differently. With just 18 seconds remaining in the quarter, Ingram escaped for a 56-yard dash to the end zone. The score put 'Bama back in front, 17-12.

In the fourth quarter, Ingram again proved a big-play threat as he used a draw play to gain 55 yards and another touchdown. The Alabama lead stretched to 24-12.

Texas responded with a drive that included 15 rushing yards from Newton and three completions from Colt McCoy for 46 yards, including a 17-yard pass to Jordan Shipley to place the ball at the three-yard line. From there, Cody Johnson punched it in and narrowed the Longhorns deficit to 24-19.

Alas, Texas would get no closer. Richardson ripped off a 65-yard run on the next possession, setting up a Tiffin field goal. Still only down eight, the Longhorns' next two possessions ended in a fumble and a turnover on downs. Alabama recorded the 27-19 win.

Texas limited Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy to 95 yards in the loss, but surrendered numerous long runs to Ingram and Richardson. The duo combined for 306 yards rushing and three touchdowns. McCoy led Texas with 267 yards passing, including 10 completions for 124 yards to Shipley.

Gridiron Dynasty

Jake Westrich is the Digital Content Coordinator for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jwestrich@whatifsports.com.

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