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1
16
Oklahoma
Troy
49
13
8
9
Penn State
Boise State
20
17
4
13
Alabama
Virginia Tech
20
14
5
12
USC
Cincinnati
27
17
3
14
Texas
East Carolina
34
10
6
11
Utah
TCU
16
18
7
10
Texas Tech
Ohio State
31
21
2
15
Florida
Buffalo
43
16
1
8
Oklahoma
Penn State
33
21
4
5
Alabama
USC
14
21
3
11
Texas
TCU
23
17
7
2
Texas Tech
Florida
32
45
1
5
Oklahoma
USC
3
2
Texas
Florida

Over the next four weeks, the top 16 teams (11 conference champions and five at-large) in the nation will compete for the ultimate title in the December Madness playoff.

The results of each round will be revealed here (Fieldof16.com) on Tuesdays December 16th, 23rd, 30th and January 6th when a true national champion is crowned.

An updated bracket with scores, recaps and example boxscores with play-by-play are below. To determine who wins and advances, WhatIfSports uses its award-winning simulation software to "play" each game 1,001 times.... More >

1
8
Oklahoma
Penn State
33
21
Now it’s getting really good. The eight teams remaining in the December Madness playoff have a combined record of 90-9, with five of those losses coming against one of the other eight. In the second round opener, the winning percentages and player of the game honors seem to indicate at least a close game. However, when the team wins, Oklahoma’s record-setting offense puts up quite a few points and it does just that in a 33-21 victory over the Big Ten Champion Penn State Nittany Lions.

The Sooners actually trail 14-3 early in the game after Penn State quarterback Darryl Clark hits two deep passes – to running back Evan Royster for 71 yards and to senior wide receiver Jordan Norwood for 44 yards – for touchdowns. Oklahoma gains momentum back in the second quarter by following a great punt return with a nine play 42 yard TD drive. Two more PSU three-and-outs set up OU field goals and the Sooners head into the half winning 16-14.

The second half is pretty much all Oklahoma as the offense hits full speed. Sam Bradford reminds everyone why he won the Heisman. Bradford completes 25 of 30 passes for 352 yards, spreading the ball around to eight different targets, including hitting two running backs, two tight ends and four wide receivers. Interestingly, against one of the better passes defenses of all-time, he is that successful, yet only throws for one touchdown.

Not to be ignored is the play of Royster, who earns back-to-back player of the game awards in this widely-viewed playoff. The sophomore standout gives Nittany Lions fans plenty of hope for next season with 143 total yards and two touchdowns on just 16 touches.

The top-ranked Sooners will advance on to an eagerly anticipated December Madness semifinal matchup with another great defense in either Alabama or USC.

Player of the game: Evan Royster (143 total yards, 2 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Oklahoma 56% - Penn State 44%
4
5
Alabama
USC
14
21
In a situation that is essentially the opposite of the one above, this 21-14 victory by USC over Alabama is not nearly that close. The Trojans miss two field goals, fumble twice (to no turnovers by the Crimson Tide), lose the time of possession battle and allow a 64 yard punt return for a touchdown by Javier Arenas – and still win by seven.

That’s not necessarily a common recipe for success, but USC is that good – particularly on defense. Without hyperbole, the Trojans may have the greatest defense in the history of college football. Facing an offense-happy conference, USC allowed just 7.8 points a game, which was first in the nation by three full points a game and 25.3 points per game fewer than its opponents scored against everyone else on the year. Facing the two-headed monster of Glen Coffee and Mark Ingram in the Alabama backfield, the Trojans hold the Tide to just 117 yards on 46 carries (2.5 ypc).

In contrast, USC utilizes its never-ending depth chart of playmaking running backs to carry the ball 54 times for 310 yards (5.7 ypc), with Joe McKnight providing the biggest impact with his 116 rushing yards and two TDs on 14 carries. Prior to this game, Terrence Cody and the Alabama defense were not too bad either.

With great recruiting classes, plenty of tradition and a hard-nosed attitude, Nick Saban is building an empire in Tuscaloosa that should one-day (probably soon) rival Pete Carroll’s program in Southern California. This game reminds everyone that the Tide is not yet on that level.

The fifth-ranked Trojans will follow this upset (by seed) with an attempt at another as they take on #1 Oklahoma in the December Madness Final Four.

Player of the game: Joe McKnight (116 rushing yards, 2 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: USC 78% - Alabama 22%
3
11
Texas
TCU
23
17
Tell me that Gary Patterson has been offered every high-profile job in college football, yet turned it down. Every year, he takes a group of two-star recruits and turns them into one of the scariest teams in all of college football. The Horned Frogs don’t win every game (they are 72-27 under Patterson), but they always have a defense and a mentality that could.

Texas played TCU in 2007, yet after this playoff game, they are not going to want to face the smaller school three hours to its north any time soon. Yes, the Longhorns win but it's not pretty and they actually trail for a lot of this brilliantly-played contest.

TCU is up 17-13 with 11:47 left in the fourth quarter when Texas quarterback and Heisman Finalist Colt McCoy steps up to remind the country why he was in the discussion for that award. Following a Jordan Shipley 39 yard return of TCU’s kickoff, McCoy completes consecutive passes of 31, 3 and 13 yards to lead a quick, 56 yard, 1:42 drive that puts the Longhorns back on top 20-17. The Horned Frogs go three-and-out on the next possession and McCoy's magic kicks in again on a nine play, 64 yard drive that eats 4:24 off the clock and culminates in a 38 yard field goal.

Only up six with 3:22 to play, Texas needs one big stop. It doesn’t look good for the Longhorns for awhile as TCU methodically moves down the field to the Texas 11 yard-line. Needing a touchdown on third down with 39 seconds on the clock, Horned Frogs' quarterback Andy Dalton drops back only to be engulfed by senior DE Roy Miller (aka "The Forgotten One" alongside Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Brian Orakpo). Fourth down from 18 yards out is unsuccessful and Texas sneaks away with a close 23-17 victory.

It is not the cakewalk the Longhorns received in the first round, but they advance to the December Madness Final Four either to face Texas Tech in a rematch of the classic game in Lubbock or Florida in a game that many thought could/should have been the BCS title game.

Player of the game: Foswhitt Whittaker (92 rushing yards, 1 TD)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Texas 69% - TCU 31%
7
2
Texas Tech
Florida
32
45
When people think of Urban Meyer, do they think of a strong rushing attack? For all the bells and whistles in Meyer’s version of the spread offense on the field, the numbers can make the team look "old school". During the regular season, Florida ran the ball on 65.1% of its plays, averaging 5.96 yards on 38.5 rushes per game and scoring 41 total rushing TDs.

Never is running the ball more important than when taking on a aerial assault like Mike Leach’s Texas Tech Red Raiders. Wanting to run the ball to control the tempo and keep Graham Harrell from having it in his hands, five Gators get at least ten carries. Three of those players - Percy Harvin, Jeffery Demps and Emmanuel Moody - top 100 rushing yards. Tim Tebow only has to throw eight passes. In other words, Urban Meyer’s plan works perfectly.

Florida puts up 45 points (24 in the third quarter) and wins going away. Though Florida wins by 13 points, this game is definitely not without intrigue. In the aforementioned third quarter, when Florida scores 24 points, Texas Tech tallies 20, meaning that six touchdowns are scored within a little over 14 minutes. The Red Raiders actually even hold a lead during that stretch at 25-24.

Ultimately though, the running system beats the throwing system with better overall speed, strength and talent. Harvin earns player of the game credit for recording 171 total yards and two scores on 11 rushes and two receptions.

On the other side, senior Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell attempts 62 passes, completing 35 for 361 yards and one TD. The impressive season for Texas Tech ends as it should, with a valiant effort in a playoff game that the Red Raiders deserve after tying for the Big 12 South championship.

Florida moves on with plenty of momentum after the strongest quarterfinal showing. The #2 Gators will face a #3 Texas squad whose lone loss came on a last-minute, fluky play on the road at Texas Tech. It’s hard to argue that these are not the four best teams in the nation. Now, all four get a shot at a legitimate national title.

Player of the game: Percy Harvin (171 total yards, 2 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Florida 57% - Texas Tech 43%

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