1
16
Ohio State
Troy
47
7
8
9
Boise State
Auburn
27
32
4
13
LSU
BYU
41
23
5
12
USC
Wake Forest
29
20
3
14
Michigan
Houston
41
13
6
11
Louisville
Notre Dame
38
24
7
10
Wisconsin
Oklahoma
23
29
2
15
Florida
C. Michigan
37
10
1
9
Ohio State
Auburn
31
17
4
5
LSU
USC
27
13
3
6
Michigan
Louisville
30
23
10
2
Oklahoma
Florida
26
20
1
4
Ohio State
LSU
3
10
Michigan
Oklahoma
1
9
Ohio State
Auburn
31
17
Ohio State found itself in a unique position against Auburn, being forced to battle back from behind in its second round game. Trailing 17-10 just before the end of the third quarter, Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith took matters into his own hands, leading the Buckeyes on a touchdown drive that began with a 37 yard Ted Ginn Jr. kickoff return and saw Smith juke a defender and launch a pass toward the back of the endzone on his way to one of the best 12 yard touchdown passes in college football history.

The quick scoring drive proved more than enough to instill energy back into OSU and propel them to what ultimately looks like an easy victory. The Buckeyes kept their momentum in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 more unanswered points on an 18 yard Ginn Jr. touchdown and 63 yard bomb to another junior wide receiver in Anthony Gonzalez.

The Tigers’ defense was actually rather stingy, holding their own for the SEC against one of the nation’s top offenses. They sacked the quarterback four times and forced an interception. But as has been the case with each of the Buckeye’s opponents this season, Auburn could not contain Troy Smith when it counted. Smith threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns on just 29 attempts.

His counterpart, senior QB Brandon Cox had about as many attempts, 28, yet could only muster 164 yards and one touchdown. It should be noted that, while the Tigers were moderately successful on defense, they could never get into rhythm offensively. Auburn only accumulated 344 yards, as compared to OSU’s 472, despite adding possessions with two Buckeye turnovers. Ohio State will move forward to play the winner of the #4 LSU vs. #5 USC contest for what will be a highly anticipated national semifinal game.

Player of the game: Troy Smith (21-29, 328 yards, 4 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Ohio State 87.1% - Auburn 12.9%
4
5
LSU
USC
27
13
A #4 versus #5 matchup between two of the best teams on paper had the nation buzzing before the Tigers and Trojans even took the field. And much like the early SEC showdown between LSU and Auburn, it may not have been pretty, but at least it was close. Two strong defenses made the game seem ugly, yet it was a gutsy battle and the Tigers came out as the last team standing.

Big plays were the only way to find offense in the first half, as USC scored on a 42 yard CJ Gable jaunt and fellow underclassman Jacob Hester of LSU answered with a 29 yard TD run of his own. The margin was just one point with LSU leading 14-13 after a 33 yard Mario Danelo field goal as time expired in the second quarter.

Then, no one scored. Two punts and two interceptions were all that either team could achieve before LSU notched a late third quarter field goal to pull ahead by four. Defense ruled the day again in the fourth quarter; but, unfortunately for the Trojans, it was just LSU’s defense. The Tigers forced two punts and scored on their first two fourth quarter possessions to extend their lead to 14.

USC came back with its first sustained drive of the half, yet the drive and the Trojans’ hopes of moving on in the tournament faded when Chauncey Washington let a dropped screen pass go and LSU jumped on the ball to recover the fumble. The play was reviewed and upheld with the Tigers getting the ball on their own 17. Fourth-seeded LSU will advance forward to play the #1 Ohio State in the December Madness semifinals.

Player of the game: Jacob Hester (103 yards, 1 TD)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: LSU 75.0% - USC 25.0%
3
6
Michigan
Louisville
30
23
In a game that featured one of football’s all-time greatest programs and a program on the rise under a great coach, #3 Michigan verified what Ohio State had proclaimed earlier, that the Big Ten is the toughest conference in college football, at least at the top.

Continuously pressuring junior quarterback Brian Brohm, defensive coordinator Ron English’s Wolverines flustered the Cardinals with many different defensive looks. Keeping Louisville out of the endzone until the fourth quarter allowed Michigan to control the ball on offense and that’s what Mike Hart, Lloyd Carr and Michigan prefer to do.

The Wolverines yet again showed balance with 38 rushes for 195 yards and 36 passes for 235 yards. Mike Hart had another stellar game with 153 of those rushing yards on 28 carries including a nine yard touchdown run to open the scoring early in the first quarter.

Conversely, Brohm was forced to pass the ball 48 times, hitting on 27 attempts including two late desperate touchdown tosses. The 411 yards and two TDs were not enough however, as Michigan had already locked up the victory with its solid offensive attack and timely interceptions from David Harris and Prescott Burgess.

Junior Wolverine quarterback Chad Henne had his second consecutive efficient day in the tournament, throwing for almost 60% with two touchdowns and no interceptions. As long as Henne is mistake free, Michigan is in good shape.

Some questions concerning the Wolverines have been answered, but more remain. Can they beat a team with a strong, powerful running back like Adrian Peterson (or Chris Wells)? Or an athletic offense littered with versatility and gimmicks like Florida? We’ll find out in the December Madness semifinals as Michigan takes on the winner of the #2 Florida-#10 Oklahoma contest.

Player of the game: Mario Urrutia (157 yards, 1 TD)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Michigan 66.5% - Louisville 33.5%
10
2
Oklahoma
Florida
26
20
Pitched as the first real test for the Sooners since they faced Texas as well as an opportunity for Chris Leak to exploit a young defense like Colt McCoy did earlier in the season, Oklahoma more than proved its mettle with an exciting nail-biter in the last quarterfinal matchup of the December Madness playoffs.

It did not start as a nail-biter though. Three first quarter touchdowns had the Sooners dominating the second seeded Gators 20-3 before Florida was able to find its game. The team opened its possession with Leak on the bench and the versatile freshman Percy Harvin taking snaps and running the spread option out of the shotgun.

After picking up 20 yards on runs and 15 on a facemask penalty, wily head coach Urban Meyer left Leak on the bench to bring in Tim Tebow for the first time in the tournament. Tebow faked the draw to the left side of the field, a play he had run over 60 times in the regular season, and launched a perfect strike to Dallas Baker in the endzone.

The Gators were energized and pulled within ten points at a critical juncture. The spark was not as great as anticipated, though, as Florida’s offense stalled again against the Sooner’s defense. Oklahoma added a few Garrett Hartley field goals to extend its lead to 26-10 before the light came back on for the Gators.

Leak led a fourth quarter field goal drive and, while they could not capitalize on a Ryan Smith interception of Paul Thompson, the defense got the ball back again on an Adrian Peterson fumble near the goal line. Leak hit running back Kestahn Moore for a touchdown on the first play of the next drive and, all of the sudden, this was a one possession game.

Florida lucked out again, getting the ball back with 2:22 left in the game. The freshman phenom Tebow cost the team this time, coughing up the ball on the Sooners’ 37 yard line in a rush attempt. One Oklahoma first down later the game was over and a tenth seed had just crashed the December Madness party to make its final four.

Following up a stellar first round game, sophomore wide receiver Malcolm Kelly had another great game with 139 yards receiving and a touchdown. Adrian Peterson was mostly held in check, yet still notched 106 yards and a touchdown. There will be no Florida-Michigan showdown, but things do not get any easier for either team as the Sooners face one of the Big Ten’s best in #3 Michigan for a spot in the December Madness Championship Game.

Player of the game: Malcolm Kelly (139 yards, 1 TD)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Oklahoma 57.7% - Florida 42.3%

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