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
21
25
3
10
Michigan
Oklahoma
24
16
4
3
LSU
Michigan
1
4
Ohio State
LSU
21
25
Though three of the top four seeds advanced to the December Madness semifinals, the playoffs have not been without excitement, drama and intrigue. This game was more of the same as top-ranked Ohio State, which was bounced by USC in this round last year, ran into one of the nationís best defenses and maybe the only team that could contain Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith. The Tigers prevailed and, despite two regular season losses, will represent the SEC in the December Madness National Championship.

The game could have easily gone the other way though. After the young Ohio State defense came up with a huge stop late in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes got the ball back down just four points at 25-21 with 5:37 remaining in the game. Ted Ginn Jr., who had a great game with 101 yards receiving, returned a punt to the Buckeyesí 41 to put the team in great field position at the critical point in the game. Sophomore running back Antonio Pittman, the Big Tenís fourth leading rusher, reeled off a string of great runs and Smith connected on two deep throws to make it down to the six yard line with 1:29 remaining and two timeouts left.

It was all for naught though, as LSU rejoiced and luck did not shine on the Buckeyes today. On a second-and-goal, freshman running back Chris Wells, who had been benched earlier in the season after losing his fifth fumble, spelled Pittman. Wells took a delay from Smith and tried to pound it through to the endzone, but coughed up the ball and the Tigers jumped on it on the 12 yard line. Game and season over for the Buckeyes.

Facing great defenses, neither team was able to muster much offense, particularly on the ground. Five Tigers had five carries or more and none of them exceeded 29 yards. On the other side, Pittman carried the load for OSU and still only accumulated 107 yards.

Even with constant pressure and nine sacks, the quarterbacks both played a little better than the running backs. Smith threw for a respectable 326 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions, something he had only done once this season Ė against Penn State. Junior JaMarcus Russell had his weakest game of the tournament thus far, but still connected for 247 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers in the marquee victory.

#4 LSU will now advance to the Championship Game to face the winner of the Michigan-Oklahoma showdown.

Player of the game: Anthony Gonzalez (103 yards, 1 TD)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: LSU 62.0% - Ohio State 38.0%
3
10
Michigan
Oklahoma
24
16
Former head coach Jerry DiNardo recently stated that turnovers have been replaced by explosive, long gains as the most crucial determinants of victory in college football. That has never been better exemplified than with this national semifinal game. Michigan only outgained the Oklahoma by 13 yards and forced just one turnover that it immediately returned to the Sooners with a three-and-out, yet they prevailed with two huge fourth quarter plays.

Trailing 13-10 at the start of the fourth quarter, backup running back Brandon Minor took what was supposed to be a simple counter 34 yards to the (Big?) house to give the Wolverines their first lead since a Garrett Rivas field goal put Michigan on top 3-0 in the first quarter.

Michiganís vaunted defense held the Sooners to a punt from midfield on the next possession and multi-talented Steve Breaston risked a lot by catching the ball on the eight and brought the ball back out to the Wolverine 21.

Five plays later Michigan turned back to its senior star for the biggest play of the tournament thus far when Breaston beat fellow senior Reggie Smith on a hitch-and-go and Henne hit him down the sidelines for a 57 yard touchdown. It was Breastonís second touchdown of the game.

OU was able to close the gap to a TD with a two-point conversion with a field goal, yet never crossed midfield again, losing 24-16. Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly's bid for December Madness MVP has probably gone the way of his team after this game, but that is not to say that Kelly has been anything less than spectacular. A nine-catch 154 yard performance gave Kelly 443 receiving yards in just three games.

That was about the only thing going Oklahomaís way on offense though, as converted wide receiver turned quarterback Paul Thompson failed to connect on more than half of his pass attempts and junior superstar running back Adrian Peterson was held to just three yards-per-carry, just a tenth of a yard more than Petersonís career low on more than ten carries set on September 3rd, 2005, in a loss to TCU.

The Michigan defense continues to shut down some of the countryís top offenses. Ohio State may have been the best team in the Big Ten this season and it even got the best of the Wolverines in the yearís most exciting game, but itís Michigan that is moving on with a chance at the championship as they survive to play #4 LSU in the December Madness Championship Game.

Player of the game: Steve Breaston (97 yards, 2 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Michigan 79.1% - Oklahoma 20.9%

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