The BCS title game this year is between Notre Dame and Alabama, something that no doubt makes the sales guys at ESPN drool. The championship does have some attached hypothetical situations, as normal, but this year has more than perhaps most.
I used my bowl score projection method to run down the what-ifs. The real bowls will be coming later this week, but for now, here's a few to think on.
Scenario 1: What if Ohio State wasn't run by idiots?
Anyone who knows anything about the NCAA and what Ohio State did, particularly in relation to Jim Tressel getting his troubled players eligible in the Sugar Bowl, could see at least a one-year bowl ban coming. Instead of hold out last year's 6-6 squad with an interim coach, the leadership in Columbus rolled the dice and wound up having this year's undefeated team miss the postseason. Whoops!
So what if Ohio State had taken its postseason break last year? Well for one, it would have had to play the Big Ten Championship Game before qualifying to play Notre Dame. However given OSU's 63-38 win over the Huskers in the regular season and Nebraska's epic face plant in the real game against Wisconsin, I feel comfortable in saying that the 12-0 Buckeyes could make it to 13-0 and go to Miami.
Anyway as it stands, Notre Dame projects to be a 24-20 winner. That sounds about right to me. Ultimately the Irish's defense is the best unit on the field, and so I'd expect it to help grind out one more win. Wake up the hypothetical echoes.
Scenario 2: What if we had tomorrow's playoff, today?
Beginning with the 2014 season, college football will finally have the playoff system in the postseason that will solve all arguments and make everyone happy. We're not there yet, unfortunately, so let's just play make believe until then.
In the first semifinal, No. 1 Notre Dame takes on No. 4 Oregon in the Solid Ver-Bowl. My numbers have the Ducks prevailing 32-23. I wouldn't be surprised by a score like that, but I'm not convinced it's totally right on. Again, Notre Dame's defense is the real deal, and Oregon managed just 14 points against Stanford's good-but-not-as-good-as-Notre-Dame's defense. Plus, Oregon has struggled in recent years when playing bowls against good defensive teams.
In the other semifinal, No. 2 Alabama takes on No. 3 Florida. In this one, the formula picks the Tide to win 23-13. I can't squabble too much. The key to attacking Alabama, apparently, is doing it through the air, and there were times this year when describing the Gators' passing game as "dysfunctional" was too kind. UF could pull off the win for sure, but I wouldn't bet on it.
The title game ends up being Alabama and Oregon here. The numbers project that matchup to be a virtual tie: 32.77 points for Oregon versus 32.70 points for Alabama. I'll say that they went to overtime. You can then decide who pulls out the victory.
Scenario 3: What if we had tomorrow's playoff, today, and the AP ran it?
Ohio State is ineligible for the BCS due to its NCAA postseason ban, but the AP doesn't care about that and includes the Buckeyes in its rankings. Currently, the team is in third. So, what if we had a playoff with Ohio State included?
Well, the first semifinal would be the Fall of 2004 Urban Meyer Fight Bowl between Notre Dame and Florida. They're two defensive teams with offenses that generally do just enough and no more. Therefore, the figures project a barn burner of a game that ends up Notre Dame 14, Florida 12. Caleb Sturgis: doin' work.
The other semifinal would have the actual Urban Meyer in it as his team would take on Alabama. Are we looking at a repeat of the 2008 or 2009 games between him and Nick Saban? Bet on the latter. The formula likes the Tide to roll by about two touchdowns, 34-21.
Going by this method, we end up with the same national championship game as the BCS formula gave us. With it, the numbers suggest an Alabama win by a score of 21-12.