The December Madness college football playoff is a thought-provoking concept up until the point and time cynics learn the two teams playing in the December Madness Championship aren't the same two teams in the BCS National Championship. We love an underdog's story of survival until it kills our dream title game. It's about that time when Captain Knowitall (he played football in high school) bombards your inbox like he's stuffing a stocking.
What do you mean Auburn and Oregon aren't the two best teams? What do you mean the Wisconsin Badgers pulled the upset? What do you know about Ray Finkle?
Wisconsin versus Oregon in the December Madness Championship is what defines a playoff system. It hands each of the 16 schools, in this instance, a golden ticket to make a run towards the pinnacle of college athletics. In the Badgers' case, a crack at the title came down to virtually a coin-flip in their 1001 simulations against Auburn where they won 50.9-percent of the games. Even a fifty-fifty chance at the title is better than no chance for the Badgers. We have no issue with the five seed breaking our bracket come March and should embrace the notion that, despite a 1 and 2 appearing before their name, Auburn and Oregon may not be the best two teams in the country.
The Ducks did, however, breeze through their half of the bracket averaging over 257 yards on the ground per simulation win.
All was quiet after the first 12-minutes of the December Madness finale. Wisconsin's Phillip Welch's 32-yard field goal summed up the scoring in the first quarter as both teams tried to dissect each other.
The Ducks struck twice early in the second quarter and scored on a punt return following a three-and-out by Wisconsin. The Badgers could not answer the score and had to punt the ball back to the Ducks four plays later. On the first play, Kenjon Barner found a seam and 54-yards later the Ducks had themselves a 14-3 lead.
The 14-points scored in 26-seconds was the wake-up call the Badgers needed. Scott Tolzein engineered a 10-play drive that included two third and long conversions. James White did most of the work as the talented running back made a 46-yard house call to bring the Badgers back within four.
Oregon would later kick a field goal to take a seven-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Badgers took advantage of receiving the second half kickoff. Wisconsin ran nine plays, eight of them rushing including Montee Ball's game-tying 22-yard touchdown.
The Ducks wouldn't let Wisconsin enjoy their comeback for long. Oregon blended a few pass plays in with their explosive running attack and got down to the Badgers' six-yard line. On third and five, Darron Thomas found Jeff Maehl for the go-ahead score.
Wisconsin would not back down in the fourth quarter and rattled off a 14-3 run. Two more rushing touchdowns by Ball (70 yards) and John Clay (9 yards) would push the Badgers into the lead, 31-27, with two minutes to go in the December Madness title game.
Oregon had 120 seconds to move the football 80 yards. They only faced one third down the entire ten play journey. Chip Kelly wisely saved all three of his timeouts which he would call during this final drive.
On second and six from the Wisconsin 28-yards line with 18-seconds showing on the clock, Thomas hit Paulson who collected 16 yards before he was tackled at the 12.
Timeout Ducks. With nine seconds remaining the Ducks had two shots for the end zone.
They only needed one.
Thomas rolled out and found Maehl in the end zone for the go-ahead score with three seconds remaining. The wide receiver's second touchdown of the game handed the lead back to Oregon and the Ducks defeated Wisconsin 34-31 in the 7th Annual December Madness Championship.
Player of the game: Jeff Maehl (Game-winning touchdown, 68 rec. yards, 2 TDs)
Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Oregon 62.9% - Wisconsin 37.1%