December Madness 2009

1
16
Alabama
Troy
54
7
8
9
Ohio State
Georgia Tech
31
10
4
13
TCU
West Virginia
33
10
5
12
Florida
Brigham Young
27
10
3
14
Cincinnati
Central Mich.
38
20
6
11
Boise State
Virginia Tech
28
24
7
10
Oregon
Iowa
21
17
2
15
Texas
East Carolina
33
9
1
8
Alabama
Ohio State
4
5
TCU
Florida
3
6
Cincinnati
Boise State
7
2
Oregon
Texas

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

To view the results of a completed round, click the Round Indicator above the bracket. Results below the bracket include scores, recaps, boxscores with play-by-play and more.

To determine who wins and advances, WhatIfSports uses its award-winning simulation software, SimMatchup College Football, to "play" each game 1,001 times.

Learn More about the simulation. >>

Play Gridiron Dynasty -- the best college football game on the web.
1
16
Alabama
Troy
54
7
Our 2009 December Madness opens up much like the 2008 version with the No. 1 team in the bracket crushing Troy. This time, it’s Alabama advancing through the first round with a 54-7 victory over the Trojans with the Crimson Tide winning 99.8% of the 1,001 simulations between the two teams. Greg McElroy gets Alabama going early, throwing two of his three touchdown passes in the opening quarter as the Crimson Tide cruises into the quarterfinals.

Bama running back Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy in part for his performance on the big stage, and he certainly didn’t disappear to start the college football playoff. Though the Tide already had a 20-point lead, Ingram made sure there was no sniff of a comeback, running for a pair of touchdowns - including one from 75 yards out - and catching another. He finished with more than 200 yards of total offense, including 181 on the ground.

The Trojans, champions of the Sun Belt Conference, were simply happy to be back in the field for a second straight year. Shawn Southward’s 54-yard touchdown scamper was their only score of the game and they ran the ball 18 times for 18 yards outside of that long burst against one of the nation’s top defenses against the run.

Bama moves on to get the winner of a matchup between the conference champions of two of the nation’s most lackluster leagues - ACC champ Georgia Tech and Big Ten champ Ohio State. The Crimson Tide beat four ranked teams during the regular season, but would probably be happy to avoid a non-automatic qualifying school after their 2008 debacle against Utah.

Player of the game: Mark Ingram (181 rushing yards, 2 TDs; 43 receiving yards, 1 TD)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Alabama 99.8% - Troy 0.2%
8
9
Ohio State
Georgia Tech
31
10
In a battle of two teams - and two conferences - looking for respect after suffering through a season in which the title-winner finished with multiple losses, the Buckeyes make a mockery of the first round’s closest game in terms of seeding. Running back Daniel Herron comes up big for the Buckeyes and while quarterback Terrelle Pryor isn’t called on all that often, he produces when asked to, throwing for a pair of touchdowns and leading Ohio State to a victory over the Yellow Jackets about 93% of the time, winning 31-10 to move on to the quarterfinals of December Madness.

At 5.32 yards per rush, Georgia Tech came into the game ranked amongst the nation’s top rushing offenses, and Jonathan Dwyer pulls his weight with a 100-yard game, but the Buckeyes clamp down against Yellow Jackets quarterback Josh Nesbitt, forcing him to average less than two yards per carry on the ground while completing just two of 10 passes with a turnover.

Ohio State actually fell behind 3-0, but eventually outgained Georgia Tech 438-220 in a complete romp and scored 17 unanswered points heading into halftime thanks to the arm of Pryor. The Buckeyes’ signal-caller only threw 17 passes and one of them was picked off, but he completed 10 tosses for 180 yards and two touchdowns as well.

The Yellow Jackets looked like one of the top teams in the country with about a month left in the season, but lost one game in their final four and won twice by five points or less in that span. Their run-only offense catches up with them against the Buckeyes, who advance to face the unbeaten SEC champs. A victory against Georgia Tech may not have proven anything to the nay-sayers, but a victory over Alabama would go a long ways to quelling the doubters.

Player of the game: Terrelle Pryor (180 passing yards, 2 TDs; 33 rushing yards)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Ohio State 92.7% - Georgia Tech 7.3%
4
13
TCU
West Virginia
33
10
Something’s gotta give in December Madness' 4/13 matchup. Undefeated TCU, on a mission to prove that the Mountain West Conference has earned its spot amongst the nation’s elite, strolls into its first-round game with one of the country’s best rushing defenses. West Virginia, earning a spot in the playoff thanks to a flurry of a finish that was sparked by one of the nation’s top rushing offenses, came in thinking upset. In the end, it was the defense that won out as the Horned Frogs win more than 96% of the time.

Noel Devine wasn’t up for the accolades like some of the other premiere running backs in the country, but there aren’t many players in the country that are more capable of producing a big play than the Mountaineers’ running back. Against the Horned Frogs, however, Devine never got untracked, rushing for just 71 yards on 20 carries and failing to find the end zone. Its running game stifled for just 3.0 yards per carry, West Virginia gains less than 300 offensive yards.

The Horned Frogs’ offense barely gets to 350 total yards, but it’s their defense that proves to be the difference, again. Quarterback Andy Dalton doesn’t do anything flashy, attempting just 19 passes, but is extremely efficient, completing 13 of those tries. And TCU gets plenty of production from running backs Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker, while the defense dominates the line of scrimmage throughout, amassing five sacks from five different players.

In a certain other system, TCU has nary a chance of proving anything. But in December Madness, anything is possible and the Horned Frogs stay alive to move into the quarterfinals, where they will face either fellow conference foe BYU or SEC runner up Florida.

Player of the game: Ed Wesley (101 rushing yards, 2 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: TCU 96.3% - West Virginia 3.7%
5
12
Florida
Brigham Young
27
10
The bracket doesn’t do the Mountain West Conference any favors, pitting league members BYU and TCU against each other if they can both get by their first-round matchups. Then again, that’s a big if. The nation’s longest winning streak ended when Florida lost to Alabama in the SEC championship game, but the Gators have their eyes set on a whole new three-game winning streak on their way to a December Madness Championship. They start out that mission with a 27-10 victory over the Cougars.

BYU gets Florida right where it wants it early, jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the fourth quarter behind the legs of running back Harvey Unga. The senior running back has his way with the Gators in the game, running just 15 times for nearly 150 yards, and puts a scare into Florida with his 66-yard touchdown scamper late in the first quarter. But his individual effort is overshadowed by the struggles of one-time Heisman hopeful Max Hall. The Cougars’ quarterback suffers a rare day where he fails to find the end zone and throws a pair of interceptions.

After 15 minutes, the Gators look like their winning streak will quickly turn into back-to-back losses, but thanks to a pair of interceptions from A.J. Jones, bounce right back and score 27 unanswered points on its way to the quarterfinals. Not surprisingly, it’s Tim Tebow that leads the Gators back from the brink of disaster. The Heisman finalist - and former winner - leads Florida in rushing and passing, throwing for a pair of touchdowns that puts his team right back in the game.

Florida’s come-from-behind victory over the Cougars sets up the matchup that many around the nation wanted to see from that certain other system as the Gators and Horned Frogs will clash in a battle to reach the semifinal game.

Player of the game: Tim Tebow (211 passing yards, 2 TDs; 112 rushing yards)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Florida 87.3% - Brigham Young 12.7%
3
14
Cincinnati
Central Mich.
38
20
Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike looked like a Heisman candidate before an injury forced him out of the lineup. Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour looked like he might be up for college football’s most prestigious award before his team faded down the stretch. But in a battle between the Big East champion Bearcats and the Mid-American Conference Chippewas, it’s actually the running games that make the difference as Cincinnati moves on to the quarterfinals with a 38-20 victory.

Pike certainly shines as the Bearcats get off to the start that they’re looking for in hoping to contend for the national championship. Cincinnati’s quarterback throws for more than 300 yards and two touchdowns, but most of it comes as the Bearcats pile on en route to a 38-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati actually fell behind 3-0, but quickly recovered with the first of two 50+ yard touchdown runs from Isaiah Pead and Cincinnati actually averages 5.0 yards per carry.

LeFevour certainly doesn’t struggle, either, and actually leads the Chippewas’ rushing attack. Known more for his arm, Central Michigan’s signal-caller throws for nearly 200 yards, but can’t find the end zone through the air. The Chippewas actually nearly match the Bearcats in terms of first downs and conversion rates, but it all comes too little and too late as they need a pair of late fourth-quarter touchdowns just to cut it to a three-possession loss.

The Bearcats move on to face the winner of Virginia Tech-Boise State, with either game posing an intriguing matchup and a scary one for a Cincinnati team sitting on the top line of their regional in the December Madness bracket.

Player of the game: Isaiah Pead (153 rushing yards, 2 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Cincinnati 93.3% - Central Mich. 6.7%
6
11
Boise State
Virginia Tech
28
24
In another intriguing early-round matchup, the bracket pits one of the nation’s most tested teams against one that hasn’t faced a true test since the first week of the season. Virginia Tech finished with three losses, but all of them came against teams that were ranked at one point in the season and the Hokies also beat two teams that were ranked and won four straight games to close out the season. Boise State finished undefeated, but easily ran through the Western Athletic Conference, resting on a first-week victory over Oregon as its best win.

Narrowly, the Broncos are up for the challenging, edging the Hokies with a ferocious fourth-quarter comeback for a 28-24 victory in the closest game in terms of winning percentage of all the first-round games.

Behind the arm of Tyrod Taylor, it appears Virginia Tech might cruise into the second round of December Madness, carrying a 17-10 lead into the second half and a two-touchdown advantage into the fourth quarter. Taylor threw for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns and ran for 40 more yards, while Ryan Williams racked up 145 yards on 26 carries, but the Hokies’ defense couldn’t seem to get a stop down the stretch.

Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore comes on late, helping the Broncos avoid a disappointing early exit from the playoffs. Moore completed just 16 of 25 pass attempts on the day, but two of his biggest came in the final 10 minutes of the game as he found Austin Pettis for a touchdown and the ensuing two-point conversion brought the Broncos within three points. Then, just four minutes later, Moore found Chris Potter in the end zone, giving Boise State its first lead since 3-0.

The victory helps Boise State move on to the quarterfinals against a Cincinnati team that will have to try to match the Broncos defensively, considering both teams certainly know how to throw the ball.

Player of the game: Kellen Moore (192 passing yards, 2 TDs - both in the fourth quarter)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Boise State 53.1% - Virginia Tech 46.9%
7
10
Oregon
Iowa
21
17
With half of Iowa’s games being decided by one touchdown or less, it’s not surprising that the Hawkeyes’ postseason game comes down to a similar motion. And with the 2009 December Madness first round quickly becoming one characterized by fourth-quarter comebacks, it’s not all surprising that the Oregon Ducks give it yet another one. After falling behind 17-0, the Ducks score 21 unanswered points, including 14 in the fourth quarter to escape to the quarterfinals.

This game was all Iowa for nearly the first 40 minutes of the game. Adam Robinson finished with less than 100 yards on 24 carries, but he made the most of his work, finding the end zone twice. Ricky Stanzi returns from his midseason injury to throw for just over 100 yards, but his interception comes back to haunt him and Robinson, whose touchdowns gave Iowa a 17-0 lead deep into the third quarter.

LaMichael James put the Ducks on the scoreboard with the first of his two touchdowns with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. James, one of the most underrated backs after taking over for LeGarrette Blount, carried the ball 24 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns. And while it was quarterback Jeremiah Masoli’s touchdown run that got the Ducks back within one possession, it was James’ second touchdown scamper that put Oregon over the top.

The Ducks’ reward for such a frenetic comeback? Most likely a date with the Texas Longhorns.

Player of the game: LaMichael James (183 total offensive yards, 2 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Oregon 53.5% - Iowa 46.5%
2
15
Texas
East Carolina
33
9
Texas’ offense will almost certainly have to be more efficient in finding the end zone, but settling for four field goals worked just fine for the Longhorns in their first-round match with the East Carolina Pirates. Leading just 13-9 early in the third quarter, Texas scored 20 unanswered points from there on out to advance to a quarterfinal meeting with Oregon behind a 33-9 victory over East Carolina.

Kicker Hunter Lawrence was Texas’ best offensive weapon for much of the day and put the Longhorns on top early, booting two of his three field goals from at least 45 yards away - he had four total field goals -- in the opening quarter.

But while the Longhorns finished with nearly 500 yards of total offense, their first-round matchup was anything but easy. East Carolina running back Dominique Lindsay rushed 14 times for 73 yards and a touchdown that came early in the third quarter to cut the Pirates’ deficit to just four points at 13-9.

But Texas quarterback Colt McCoy finally found his groove, tossing a 25-yard touchdown pass to ease the Longhorns’ stress and Tre Newton’s 58-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter put the game on ice. The big-gainer gave Newton 120 yards on just 16 carries, helping to erase a quiet day from Texas’ defense.

It may not have been pretty, but the Longhorns’ victory sets up a quarterfinal date with Oregon, a matchup of teams that bring a bevy of playmakers to the second round.

Player of the game: Colt McCoy (291 passing yards, 2 TDs; 27 rushing yards)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Texas 97.7% - East Carolina 2.3%
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