College Football Playoff Rewind: 1998 Final Four From WhatIfSports.com image

What-if Rewind: 1998 College Football Playoff

Florida State wins the four-team playoff

By Ryan Fowler - WhatIfSports.com
July 11, 2012

The analogy is popular, but when it comes to college football, the fans are truly the "mouse" in "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie."

About right now, thousands of fans could use a drink of milk.

Love it or hate it, thirsty or quenched, the new college football playoff is with us for the next 12 years beginning in 2014.

The four-team model got the guys at WhatIfSports.com to thinking. What-if the new four-team playoff existed from 1998-2011? Over the next few weeks, we'll answer some of those questions using our college football simulation engine.

We begin with the 1998 campaign. Led by Tee Martin, the Tennessee Volunteers beat the Florida State Seminoles in the BCS title game, 23-16.

In the "what-if" playoff world, the Vols didn't even make it to the championship game.

1998 college football playoff

Playoff seeding based on BCS rankings.

Note: we are aware that Chris Weinke was out and Marcus Outzen was in during the 1998 bowl season. We wanted to create the best possible matchups and left him in for these simulations. You can re-simulate any matchup yourself with Outzen as FSU's starter for FREE using the links below.

1998 College Football Semifinal
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
(1) Tennessee28.220.0Simulate Game
(4) Ohio State71.229.0

1998 Tennessee
Record: 13-0 (National Champions)
Team MVP: Tee Martin (21 pass / 7 rush TDs)

1998 Ohio State
Record: 11-1 (Sugar Bowl win)
Team MVP: David Boston
(1435 rec. yards / 13 TDs)

1998 College Football Semifinal
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
(2) Florida State91.534.4Simulate Game
(3) Kansas State8.515.4

1998 Florida State
Record: 11-2 (National Runner-up)
Team MVP: Peter Warrick
(1232 rush yards / 12 TDs)

1998 Kansas State
Record: 11-2
Team MVP: Michael Bishop
(2,844 pass yards / 23 TDs)

1998 College Football Title Game
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
(2) Florida State66.629.3Simulate Game
(4) Ohio State33.423.6Sample Boxscore

Simulated Title Game: Recap

Jeff Chaney wasn't the first option in Florida State's 1998 rushing attack, but, on this night, offensive coordinator Mark Richt called his number early. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Chaney found a hole and rumbled 52 yards to the zone. Not even two minutes into the BCS Playoff Championship Game, the Seminoles led the Buckeyes 7-0.

After an OSU three-and-out, FSU marched right back down the field. Chris Weinke found Ron Dugans who found the end zone for six. With 8:35 remaining on the clock in the first quarter, the Seminoles built a 14-point cushion. They'd tack on a field goal off the foot of Sebastian Janikowski to increase it to 17 a few minutes later.

John Cooper's Buckeyes finally lit up the scoreboard on the third play of the second quarter. Joe Germaine hit Dee Miller on 3rd and goal for the score. OSU's Dan Stultz booted his only field goal of the game 14 minutes later to cut the Seminoles' lead to seven when the halftime whistle blew.

Bobby Bowden's crew may have punched Ohio State in the jaw in the first quarter, but Cooper's troopers returned the favor in the third.

Travis Minor

Miller scored his second touchdown of the game on a 47-yard pass play from Germaine to tie the game up at 17. Three minutes later, Michael Wiley broke off a 67-yard run to the house. OSU took their first lead of the game, 24-17, with 10 minutes to go in the third.

Unfortunately, for Buckeye Nation, they couldn't hold the lead into the fourth. Janikowski booted his second field goal to cut the Bucks' lead to four. Following a three and out, the Seminoles started their next drive on the Ohio State 41-yard line. It took Weinke eight plays to retake the lead when he hit Nick Franklin for a nine-yard touchdown score.

Clinging to a 27-24 lead in the fourth quarter, FSU's defense tried to prevent Ohio State from ripping off a "big play."

They failed.

Germaine found Wiley in the flat and the running back sped down field for a 61-yard pick up. The Buckeyes were back in business inside the Seminoles' ten-yard line. Three plays later, Germaine connected with David Boston in the end zone for the go-ahead score. With nine minutes and change remaining, OSU led 31-27.

With under a minute to go in the game and the ball on the Buckeyes' 20-yard line, Florida State had one last chance to win it. On third down, Weinke chucked the ball towards the end zone praying one of his guys would come down with the game-winner. Travis Minor left his backfield comfort zone, but soared the highest on this play. He snatched the tipped ball out of midair and locked up the 1998 BCS Championship for Florida State.

Seminoles beat the Buckeyes, 34-31.

Gridiron Dynasty

Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FOXSportsFowler

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