1
16
Ohio State
Florida Atlantic
44
6
8
9
West Virginia
Hawaii
31
30
4
13
Oklahoma
BYU
37
27
5
12
Georgia
Boston College
23
27
3
14
Virginia Tech
Central Florida
33
16
6
11
Missouri
Illinois
31
29
7
10
USC
Arizona State
30
9
2
15
LSU
Cent. Michigan
41
3
1
8
Ohio State
West Virginia
4
12
Oklahoma
Boston College
3
6
Virginia Tech
Missouri
7
2
USC
LSU
1
16
Ohio State
Florida Atlantic
44
6
The 2007 December Madness tournament opened with a statement game as top-seeded Ohio State crushed the Sun Belt Conference champion Florida Atlantic 44-6. The Buckeyes won every single game in the 1,001 simulations. That has only ever happened one other time (OSU against Troy last season). Florida Atlantic, which came within 12 points of then #6-ranked South Florida during the regular season, made the tournament by beating Troy by six in the last week of the regular season. The Owls may have wanted to save themselves the embarrassment.

Ohio State got off to a slow start with just a field goal in the first quarter. Then, someone woke up sophomore running back Chris Wells and the Buckeyes’ offense. OSU capped off a six-play drive, all rushes, with a 12-yard TD scamper by junior Maurice Wells. They tacked on two more touchdowns, a one yard rush by Chris Wells and a ten yard reception by junior wide receiver Brian Robiskie from junior quarterback Todd Boeckman, to go into the break up 23-0.

Ohio State coasted from there, allowing a touchdown, but then scored three more, including a six yard run from walk-on freshman K.C. Christian. Florida Atlantic’s lone score came on a 41 yard connection between sophomore QB Rusty Smith and 1,000 yard receiver Cortez Gent.

For the game, Ohio State outgained FAU 525-173 yards, the biggest discrepancy in December Madness history. Chris “Beanie” Wells accounted for 243 of those yards on 35 carries to go with three touchdowns in the easy victory. The Buckeyes will move forward to play the winner of the #8 West Virginia vs. #9 Hawaii contest, a game that will surely provide a much greater test than this (or when they played Akron, or Kent State, or Youngstown State, or even Northwestern).

Player of the game: Chris Wells (243 rushing yards, 3 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Ohio State 100% - Florida Atlantic 0%
8
9
West Virginia
Hawaii
31
30
With the winner earning a chance to take on top-seeded Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the 2007 December Madness tournament, offensive powerhouses West Virginia and Hawaii stepped up their intensity for the playoffs. Playing only its third team that finished the regular season with a winning record, Hawaii struggled with West Virginia’s speed, especially on defense where the Mountaineers recorded eight sacks. Still, the Warriors’ high-flying attack kept the game close. In fact, Hawaii led with less than four minutes left in the game.

West Virginia started the scoring with a 27 yard Pat McAfee field goal after the opening drive. Hawaii countered two possessions later with a seven yard pass from Heisman finalist Colt Brennan to sophomore running back Leon Wright-Jackson. But, Dan Kelly missed a key extra point to leave the score at 6-3.

The teams traded touchdowns before Hawaii turned a West Virginia three-and-out into a four play drive – that covered 56 yards and put the Warriors up 20-10. McAfee kicked a field goal to end the first half and another at the beginning of the second half. After Brennan hooked up on a touchdown pass with another running back, West Virginia mounted the biggest drive of the game.

Four different players carried the ball, leading to a Pat White three yard score. He also picked up the two-point conversion and the score was within three at 27-24 with 11:59 remaining in the game. Hawaii’s next possession looked promising, but stalled on the nine yard line, forcing a field goal. West Virginia ran the ball strong again with an eight-play 72 yard drive. This time, five different players carried the ball, and White again scored. The extra-point made the score 31-30 with 3:40 left.

The Warriors couldn’t get anything going, yet caught a huge break when Slaton fumbled away the ball as West Virginia tried to run out the clock. Two Brennan bombs in the last 11 seconds were unsuccessful and WVU escaped with the one-point win.

The teams both gained a lot of yards 412-369, but in very different ways. Hawaii only gained 11 yards on the ground, to go with 358 in the air. Pat White and West Virginia passed for 137 yards, while rushing for 275 yards on 58 carries. The eighth-seeded West Virginia Moutaineers will move forward to play #1 OSU in the December Madness quarterfinals.

Player of the game: Pat White (137 passing yards, 35 rushing yards, 3 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: West Virginia 56% - Hawaii 44%
4
13
Oklahoma
BYU
37
27
In a game that featured one of the nation’s best offenses in 13th seeded BYU and one of the nation’s best defenses in 4th seeded Oklahoma, it was Oklahoma’s offense, particularly through the air, that won out.

The Sooners set the tone in usual fashion, holding BYU to a field goal after the Cougars had a first-and-goal from the six yard line. After a Graham Hartley field goal evened the score, Oklahoma kept BYU in check again as the Cougars missed a 42 yard field goal.

OU came back with a methodical drive, culminating in a two yard touchdown run by senior Allen Patrick. A similar drive toward the end of half resulted in a four yard score by fellow running back, sophomore Chris Brown. Winning 17-3 with a just a couple minutes remaining in the first half, Oklahoma looked very strong. A 52 yard run by BYU’s freshman standout Harvey Unga changed everything.

The Sooners had just a seven point lead and knew they had to kickoff to BYU to open the second half. In that crucial first possession of the half, OU shut the Cougars down with a three-and-out. Hartley hit an impressive 50 yard field goal on the next drive and, soon after that, redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Bradford connected with junior Juaquin Iglesias, to extend the lead to three scores.

Never a team to concede anything, BYU battled back with two long, quick scores before the end of the third quarter. Two possessions later, Bradford hit Malcolm Kelly and Quentin Chaney on back-to-back big gains before Patrick iced the game with a 27 yard run to the endzone.

When it was all said and done, Oklahoma had a 37-27 victory in the opening playoff round. Sam Bradford, the nation’s leader in pass efficiency, completed 27 of 38 passes for 391 yards. Unga, who had huge games against Utah, UNLV and San Diego State, earned Player of the Game honors with 200 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.

The running backs for Oklahoma combined for three TDs, but the absence of freshman standout DeMarco Murray looks like it could definitely hurt down the road. OU only averaged 2.6 yards per carry for the game. Fourth-seeded Oklahoma will advance to play the winner of the #5-#12 Georgia-Boston College game.

Player of the game: Harvey Unga (200 total yards, 1 TD)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Oklahoma 72% - BYU 28%
5
12
Georgia
Boston College
23
27
This is why we call it the Madness. You know what they always say in these brackets, the 12 always beats the 5. Though it could have backfired, BC head coach Jeff Jagodzinski will long be lauded for his clock management at the end of this big game.

Trailing 23-20 with 24 seconds remaining, the ball on the Bulldogs’ 12 yard line and the clock stopped, the Eagles caught Georgia off-guard by bypassing senior standout quarterback Matt Ryan for a draw play by senior back L.V. Whitworth. Whitworth’s knee hit when he had the ball at the one yard line.

Instead of calling one of its remaining timeouts or waiting for the refs to review the play, BC rushed to the line for a quick snap and a run by senior Andre Callender. Callendar lept over Georgia linebacker Dannell Ellerbe for the touchdown. If he does not make it to the endzone, it would have been very difficult for the Eagles to get a timeout called.

Many thought Georgia was playing some of the country’s best football going into the December Madness tournament; they definitely did not look like it when they got the chance in the national spotlight. Georgia out-gained BC by 12 yards, 378-366, yet completely lost momentum in the second half.

Boston College, the nation’s top rush defense, holding opponents to just 2.23 yards per carry in the regular season, shut down Knowshon Moreno, Thomas Brown and the vaunted young Georgia Bulldog rushing attack. Ryan had a pretty good game with 270 yards on 22 of 34 passing, but Player of the Game honors went to the running back who put the Eagles on top in one of the most exciting games in the tournament’s history. After the first upset of the first round, the balanced Boston College Eagles will look to keep up their winning ways when they take on Oklahoma in the quarterfinals of the December Madness playoffs.

Player of the game: Andre Callender (128 total yards, 2 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Boston College 64% - Georgia 36%
3
14
Virginia Tech
Central Florida
33
16
This game played exactly to form as UCF’s illustrious junior running back Kevin Smith got his yards, 159, but the Virginia Tech Hokies dictated tempo en route to the rather effortless 33-16 victory.

Sophomore Hokie running back Brandon Ore, who would go on to receive the Player of the Game award, started the scoring with a one yard touchdown reception that immediately followed a 38 yard run straight up the middle of the Knights’ defense.

UCF, which only lost to bowl teams, Texas, by three at home, at East Carolina (which VT only beat by ten at home) and at South Florida, did tie the score at seven with a 60 yard pass on a flea-flicker, but Ore answered before the end of the first quarter and Virginia Tech never looked back.

Ore, who by most accounts had a disappointing sophomore year after a strong freshman debut, ended the game with 143 total yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. After big wins from Boston College and Virginia Tech, the ACC is looking much stronger than most would have thought.

With the two quarterback system in place and the early season emotional rollercoaster behind them, Virginia Tech, the strongest team according to the BCS computers, look as good as any team in the nation.

With a 41 point loss to LSU on the schedule and an inconsistent offense, several questions do loom for this team. Are the Hokies really this good? Is their passing or running game their greatest offensive strength? And if both are strengths and the defense and special teams are as good typically, what are the team’s weaknesses? More questions will be answered as the Hokies move forward to face the victor of the Missouri-Illinois first round rematch.

Player of the game: Brandon Ore (143 total yards, 2 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Virginia Tech 76% - Central Florida 24%
6
11
Missouri
Illinois
31
29
In the first of two regular season rematches in this round, Mizzou, the better seeded team (whether the BCS bowls know that or not), triumphed again - barely. Everything went the Tigers' way, as three rushing touchdowns, including a 75 yard end around by freshman all-around standout Jeremy Maclin, put Missouri ahead 21-0 early in the second quarter.

The prolific Mizzou offense hit a wall – possibly named J Leman – and only mustered a field goal in the next 28 minutes of game time. In the interim, Illinois’ rushing game kicked in to full gear. The Illini got an end around touchdown from its own freshman wide receiver as Aurelious Benn ran it in from the two yard line.

Then, Rashard Mendenhall hit a big play for Illinois with a 51 yard score. Jason Reda missed the ensuing extra point, which proved to be crucial. With their opponents down just one score at 24-16, a fourth different Tiger scored a rushing touchdown with Jimmy Jackson’s three yard run.

Again, the Illini battled back with the ground game. Sophomore quarterback Juice Williams had two fourth quarter TD runs to bring Illinois within a two-point conversion with just 16 seconds remaining.

With the pressure on and the entire college football world watching, Ron Zook had Williams roll out with the option to run or pass. The running lanes were all blocked and Williams lofted a pass to the corner where Benn awaited. He leapt and brought the ball down, but was out of bounds. Game over. 2-0 Mizzou on the year.

This game was really more about Mendenhall versus Maclin. The junior back from Illinois accounted for almost half of the team’s offense with 181 yards rushing and a team-leading 25 yards receiving. Maclin did just a little better with 180 yards from scrimmage and 203 return yards. The Tigers will move forward to face third-seeded Virginia Tech in the December Madness quarterfinals.

Player of the game: Jeremy Maclin (383 total yards - including returns, 1 TD)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Missouri 54% - Illinois 46%
7
10
USC
Arizona State
30
9
In the second regular season rematch of the December Madness first round, USC looked even more dominant than it did the first time it played Arizona State, as it sailed to a 30-9 victory.

With multiple high school All-Americans at just about every position and almost everyone on the team healthy for the first time this season, the Trojans appear to be the most talented team in the tournament. Yes, they lost to Stanford, but they have come a long way since that game.

The whole point of this playoff system is to find the best team of the 16 most deserving teams in the country. Of course, they are playing a team they already beat, but seventh-seeded USC looks like they are right there with LSU and Ohio State.

Freshman special teams standout Ronald Johnson set the tone early when he took the opening kick 81 yards to the Arizona State 10. Two plays later, (now healthy) senior quarterback John David Booty hit 6’5” junior wide receiver Patrick Turner for a touchdown. Needing to quell the Trojans’ momentum, the Sun Devils fell flat with a three-and-out. At halftime, the lead was 16-3.

The second half was similar. USC controlled the clock and moved the ball at will against an otherwise impressive, Dennis Erickson-led Sun Devil defense. Junior ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter threw for a late TD to make the score look a little more respectable at 30-9, but the game was never in doubt. USC’s first-round draft pick-laden defense held the normally efficient and proficient Carpenter to a season-low 128 yards passing. The running game was even worse, rushing for 60 yards on 37 carries.

The Trojans were led by one of their few seniors, running back Chauncey Washington. Washington recorded 157 rushing yards, his second best output on the year. In all, ten different Trojans touched the ball, averaging 6.4 yards per play, dwarfing ASU’s 3.8 yards per play. USC will move forward to take on LSU or Central Michigan.

Player of the game: Chauncey Washington (157 rushing yards, 1 TD)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: USC 78% - Arizona State 22%
2
15
LSU
Cent. Michigan
41
3
Second-seeded LSU matched Ohio State’s effort with a 38 point victory of its own in the first round of the December Madness playoffs. Holding this Central Michigan offense to just three points was no easy feat either. As we predicted last season, with so much young talent on offense, the Chippewas won the MAC and returned to the December Madness tournament.

Despite losing head coach Brian Kelly and with a banged up Ontario Sneed, Tim Tebow impersonator Dan LeFevour (3,360 passing yards, 1,008 rushing yards, 40 TDs) and the Central Michigan offense averaged 33.8 points per game. LeFevour was the team’s leading rusher in the game, but he averaged just 3.4 yards per carry and completed just 47.2% of his passes against the Tiger defense.

LSU’s offense is very deep and extremely talented. In this game, five different players carried the ball and seven receivers caught the ball as the team did pretty much whatever it wanted against a defense that gave up 70 points to Clemson and 52 points to Kansas. Leading the way for LSU, with his talent and his spirit, senior running back Jacob Hester grinded it out for 174 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Fellow senior, quarterback Matt Flynn, was very efficient as well, averaging 10.5 yards per pass.

It is clear after the first round that the best teams are those with multiple weapons on offense and staunch defenses. In fact, the better ranked defense won all eight matchups. LSU has as many weapons as any team in the nation, to go along with one of the deepest and strongest defenses across the board.

When the Tigers move forward to face seventh-seeded USC, the game may feature the two most talented teams in the country. Amazing games that mean something like the December Madness second round matchups, USC-LSU, Ohio State-West Virginia, Oklahoma-BC and VTech-Mizzou, are why we play this tournament. Who would not want to see those played?

Player of the game: Jacob Hester (174 rushing yards, 2 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: LSU 98% - Central Michigan 2%

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