1
16
Auburn
Miami (OH)
47
10
8
9
Arkansas
Michigan State
40
35
4
13
Stanford
UCONN
35
21
5
12
Wisconsin
Virginia Tech
27
26
3
14
TCU
UCF
35
18
6
11
OSU
Boise State
37
34
7
10
Oklahoma
LSU
27
31
2
15
Oregon
Troy
48
13
1
8
Auburn
Arkansas
44
41
4
5
Stanford
Wisconsin
33
35
3
6
TCU
Ohio State
33
30
10
2
LSU
Oregon
21
31
1
5
Auburn
Wisconsin
3
2
TCU
Oregon

For the 7th consecutive season Whatifsports.com is proud to present the ultimate college football playoff in a tournament we refer to as December Madness 2010.

Over the next three weeks, the top 16 college football teams (11 conference champions and five at-large programs based on BCS rating) will compete for the December Madness title.

Utilizing our award-winning college football simulation engine, we "play" each match-up 1,001 times. During the 2010 regular season our college football predictions were accurate over 75-percent of the time straight up.

Play Gridiron Dynasty -- the best college football game on the web.
Team Logo
Team Logo
1
8
Auburn
Arkansas
44
41
"Fiction gives us a chance that life denies us," remarked writer Paul Theroux, inadvertently describing the beauty of December Madness.

Fans in Fayetteville can second that sentiment, as the Razorback faithful are salivating over a scenario involving a rematch with Auburn. In their previous meeting in 2010, Arkansas saw their SEC Title hopes derail when then-Heisman hopeful Ryan Mallett was knocked out early in the second quarter with a concussion. Sophomore signal caller Tyler Wilson performed admirably in relief, but his efforts were to no avail as the Tigers trounced the Razorbacks 65-43 on their way to an undefeated season. Arkansas bounced back to finish the season 10-2 and earn a berth in the Sugar Bowl, but the question remains: how would have the Razorbacks faired if armed with a healthy Mallett? Thanks to our hypothetical tournament, the speculation can be put to rest.

Not that Auburn is a stranger to vengeance-seeking adversaries. Many pigskin pundits believed South Carolina posed as a formidable foe to Gene Chizik's squad in the SEC Championship, as the Gamecocks had the Tigers on the ropes in a September matchup at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Cam Newton saved the day in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns, but critics of Auburn believed Steve Spurrier could avenge his team's defeat on a neutral field. And to South Carolina's credit, the Gamecocks were down just seven with 16 seconds to go in the second quarter. But a 51-yard heave from Newton to Darvin Adams as time expired in the first half paved the way for 35-3 run for the Tigers, equating in a 56-17 spanking as Auburn claimed the conference crown.

To reach this juncture of the tournament, Arkansas squeaked past the Spartans 40-35 in Round One of December Madness thanks to four touchdowns from Mallett, while Auburn took care of business against the MAC Champion Miami RedHawks with a sound 47-10 victory.

Coordinator Gus Malzahn's offensive blitzkrieg lit up scoreboards to the tune of 42.7 points per game this season, but Newton and company were stuck in stall in the first half, scoring just 13 points against a relatively weak Arkansas defensive unit. The Razorbacks took advantage of the Tigers' troubles, with Mallett tossing two touchdowns and running back Knile Davis adding a 16-yard scamper as Arkansas went into halftime with a 28-13 advantage. The half was highlighted by a 54-yard punt return by Joe Adams at the end of the second quarter that sent the Razorback faithful into a frenzy.

Whatever coach Chizik preached at halftime was taken to heart by the Tigers. Thanks to runs by Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb, Auburn outscored Arkansas 17-3 in the third to cut the deficit to one heading into the final quarter.

After holding the Razorbacks to a field goal to open the fourth, the Tigers embarked on a 71-yard drive that ended with seldom-used Mario Fannin finding the end zone to push Auburn out in front 37-34. Not to be outdone, Mallet responded less than a minute later with a 64-yard bomb to Cobi Hamilton as Arkansas regained the lead. But Cam Newton would get the last laugh, as the Heisman winner engineered a late game-winning drive that culminated with a 21-yard strike to Emory Blake to give Auburn a 44-41 victory.

Player of the game: Cam Newton (222 pass. yards, TD - 77 rush. yards, TD )

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Auburn 58.5% - Arkansas 41.5%
Team Logo
Team Logo
4
5
Stanford
Wisconsin
33
35
You've heard of "Christmas in July," now meet "Independence Day in December" as this playoff matchup should be quite the fireworks display.

Wisconsin and Stanford finished inside the top-10 in scoring in 2010, with the Badgers racking up 43.3 points per game (4th) and the Cardinal trailing just behind at a mark of 40.3 (8th). Both have rushing attacks that average over 200 yards a game, as well as quarterbacks with 160.0 or better QB Ratings. This resemblance extends to their records, as both teams stand at 11-1.

Yet despite their statistical similarities, Stanford and Wisconsin don't necessarily abide by the same formula to attain success. Stanford chooses a more balanced, NFL-esque offensive strategy. All-American Andrew Luck directs the aerial assault, passing for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. Sophomore stud Stepfan Taylor handles the running duties, while Luck will throw in the occasional scamper for good measure. Conversely, Wisconsin relies heavily on the run game, as the trio of John Clay, James White and Montee Ball has combined for 2,968 yards and 46 touchdowns. Quarterback Scott Tolzien is extremely efficient (169.8 QB rating), but attempted more than 25 passes just once this year.

Remarkably, it's Tolzien who puts the Badgers on the board in the first quarter with a 29-yard touchdown to wideout Jared Abbrederis. Wisconsin would add another seven thanks to a bruising run by Clay to take a 14-0 advantage early in the second quarter. But the Cardinal answered, and answered with vigor. Luck tossed two touchdowns and rushed for another, and a Nate Whitaker kick gave Stanford 24 answered points to take the lead.

Little did the Cardinal know that the Badgers were brewing a comeback of their own. Two more touchdowns from Clay and a 10-yard laser from Tolzien to Isaac Anderson equated to a 21-3 run for Bret Bielema's Badgers, giving Wisconsin a 35-27 lead with just 53 seconds left. Seemingly oblivious to the surrounding pressure, Luck drove Stanford down to the Wisconsin 27. With zeroes on the scoreboard, Luck found Coby Fleener in the back of the end zone to bring the score to 35-33. Forced to go for two, coach Jim Harbaugh called a run up the middle for Taylor. Yet it was not to be, as the Badgers broke into the backfield, halting Taylor and giving the hard-fought W to Wisconsin.

Player of the game: John Clay (115 yards, 3 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Wisconsin 53.7% - Stanford 46.3%
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Team Logo
3
6
TCU
Ohio State
33
30
December Madness is the only college football playoff where, of all teams, Ohio State would end up facing the two member alliance known as the Little Sisters of the Poor Conference in back-to-back games. Fun Fact: The LSPC is split into "Angels" and "Saints" divisions.

The Buckeyes, proud owner of self-proclaimed Orville Redenbacher doppelganger, president Gordon Gee, must now upset LSPC top-dog TCU a week after barely escaping Boise State in the opening round.

If it's strength of schedule that defines the success of a program following the rigors of a regular season, perhaps the Buckeyes should take a step back into the shadows for the next sentence. Based on the Sagarin ratings, OSU's strength of schedule ranks 68th, while LSPC members Boise State and TCU rank 70th and 80th, respectively. Early season opponents Marshall, Ohio and Eastern Michigan in addition to a poor season by Miami (FL) sunk the Bucks' SOS rating and helped them fall in line with LSPC members.

Capitalizing on their one-shining December Madness moment, the Horned Frogs fought Ohio State all four quarters in this elite eight match-up. TCU trailed 16-13 as the game entered its final frame, but Ohio State was knocking at the door.

The Buckeyes wasted no time and scored on the first play of the fourth. Terrelle Pryor hooked up with Boom Herron to put a bow on a 10-play, 63-yard drive and hand the Scarlet and Grey a ten point cushion.

Andy Dalton didn't help his team's cause as he was intercepted on the Frogs' next possession. OSU took advantage of the prime real estate and scored two minutes later to take a commanding 17-point, fourth-quarter lead.

TCU accepted the challenge and returned the following kickoff inside the Bucks' redzone. Five plays later, Waymon James scored from two yards out to help his team creep back within ten points. Ohio State followed with a three-and-out to give the ball right back to the hungry Horned Frogs.

This time around Dalton went to the air and found Jimmy Young who made a few guys miss en route to a 27-yard touchdown (missed PAT) that brought Gary Patterson's crew within four points with five and change on the clock.

The Ohio State offense that seemed impossible to stop at the beginning of the quarter was forced into another three and out by TCU and the momentum was all Frogs.

Two minutes and forty seconds later, the Horned Frogs had completely erased the Bucks' 17-point lead and took their second lead of the game, 33-30, following Ed Wesley's three-yard run.

The Buckeyes made the most of the 53-seconds remaining as Terrelle Pryor hooked up with Taurian Washington for a 27-yard gain before he was tackled at the TCU 32-yard-line with three seconds on the clock.

Bucks' kicker Devin Barclay had a chance to play hero once again, but his 49-yard field goal attempt was off the mark.

The Horned Frogs win one for the LSPC, 33-30 over OSU.

Players of the game: TCU Offense (Outscored OSU 20-0 to finish the game)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: TCU 50.3% - Ohio State 49.7%
Team Logo
Team Logo
10
2
LSU
Oregon
21
31
Oregon dismantled them. LSU needed one of their nine lives to squeak by them. After falling behind 13-3 to Tennessee in Week 2 of the season, Oregon annihilated the Vols to the tune of 45 unanswered points and a 35-nothing shutout in the second half. The Bayou Bengals would have lost at home to Tennessee had it not been for a mix-up on the defense. The Volunteers sent 13 men onto the field to stop LSU on the game's final play, which they did. However, the two-man advantage was an easy call for the refs and on the next play the Tigers scored the game-winning touchdown and escaped with a 16-14 win.

The Tigers tragic flaw this entire season has been the inability to move the football via the pass. LSU ranked 107th in the nation in pass yards per game; a black eye for a proud SEC. Les Miles' defense, 9th in the nation at 17.8 points allowed per game, has kept his team in ballgames and led to heart-pounding last-minute dramatics that seemed to always fall in favor of the Tigers.

The Ducks' passing attack was far from dominant, too. Oregon ranked 48th in the country in passing yards per game, however, when you possess the fourth-best running game and average over 300 yards per game on the ground, that whole passing issue isn't worth criticizing.

This differs from LSU where their 32nd ranked rushing attack (179.2 ypg) struggled to spark the offense and light up the scoreboard.

Miles' crew carried this inability to rack up points into their December Madness showdown with the Ducks. LSU could only muster a field goal in the first half and trailed 17-3 at the break.

Their defense managed to slow down Oregon in the third quarter which allowed the LSU offense to gain some traction. The Tigers rallied to within four points after Stevan Ridley took one 39-yards to the house.

The Ducks answered the call at the start of the fourth quarter when Remene Alston finished off a 10-play, 75-yard drive to push Oregon ahead by eleven. The Tigers were not bullied and punched right back with a 9-play, 44-yard drive as Jordan Jefferson brought the team back within three following the touchdown and two-point conversion.

LSU had a chance to tie the game on their next possession, but DeAngelo Peterson coughed up the rock and the Ducks pounced on it. The turnover led to another Oregon touchdown with three minutes and change remaining. No 13th man was going to save LSU on this night.

The Ducks knock out LSU in the Elite Eight 31-21.

Player of the game: Darron Thomas (233 pass. yds, 2 TDs)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Oregon 78.5% - LSU 21.5%
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