Listen y’all, there’s no sugarcoating it: this is not an easy time of year to be a college football fan. Yes, March Madness is set to kicked off Thursday and it certainly has its craziness, but if you’re anything like me, it merely drives you to pine all the harder for football’s particular brand of insanity.
Well, friends, there were 128 teams in FBS last year. What better time. The NCAA is only giving you 68 teams in the basketball tournament. And 128 is more than 68. By, like, a lot.
The seeds were assigned using Football Outsider’s F/+ Rankings, a 128-team ranking combining Brian Fremau’s FEI and Bill Connelly’s S&P, with some slight reordering: Clemson, the defending national champion, was made the top overall seed. Alabama was given the second overall seed as the runner-up. Furthermore, each Power Five conference champion was given a one-seed. Add in a few at-larges (the highest-ranked non-conference champions) and we have our top seeds
Over the next few weeks we’ll sim through these games using WhatIfSports.com (using each school’s 2016 team) to determine the FBS Tournament Champion. The higher-seeded team will host until we get to the Final Four, then the games will go to neutral sites. Think of it as a three-way marriage between college football, March Madness, and the European soccer domestic cups.
(A word of warning, occasionally WhatIf produces some . . . bizarre results. I’m committed to using the first one regardless of how weird it seems because college football. Remember this for later, Ole Miss and Georgia fans.)
(Click to enlarge. Heads up, it’s enormous.)
ROUND ONE TAKES
Top-seeded Clemson rolled accordingly in a predictably boring arm of the bracket, save for Texas‘s 37-36 shootout against Syracuse. I greatly look forward to second round matchups between Washington State/Toledo and Oklahoma State/Navy, for which I’m taking the over regardless of where it’s set.
FLORIDA STATE’S BRACKET
The ‘Noles‘ 34-27 escape from Charlotte seems a lot more believable if we pretend they rested their starters. Craig Bohl‘s Wyoming Cowboys continued to build on their strong finish to 2017 by knocking off Kentucky. Arkansas retained the Battle Line Tropy against Missouri and set up a tantalizing second-round matchup with LSU.
WASHINGTON’S BRACKET, or, the WYD? BRACKET
(This bracket was where the upsets happened, with four lower seeded teams toppling their hosts.)
Uh, Michigan State, wyd? I like Scott Frost‘s chances at UCF just as much as the next guy but Sparty getting bounced in the first round is not a good look.
Uh, Houston, wyd? I know you miss Tom Herman but c’mon.
Uh, OLE MISS, WYD???? Does the looming NCAA thorhammer really have you so spooked that you can’t handle an Idaho team about to get relegated?
Also, Oregon avenged its Alamo Bowl loss to TCU because Gary Patterson forgot to change shirts.
OHIO STATE’S BRACKET
That thing I said earlier about sticking to WhatIf’s results regardless of how weird? Iowa State went into Athens and toppled Georgia in overtime. Sorry Georgia fans. Not an otherwise exciting bracket, although I’m completely here for this extremely coonskin-cap-and-muskets second round pairing of Appalachian State and West Virginia.
Some quick notes about this one: Can’t wait for Texas Tech to meet Alabama in the second round. Also, BYU is exactly the team I don’t want to run up against in a playoff, because they’re all 29 years old and are way too old for this nonsense. They meet Kansas State in round two, and that game will take about 45 minutes of real time. Finally, this bracket contains Western Kentucky, a mid-major I’m expecting to make some noise in this tournament.
Possibly the most believable result of the first round is Wisconsin snoozing its way to a 17-10 victory over Rice, and will probably roll into the final four afterward. Thankfully, Nebraska handled Ohio which is good because I don’t know how Husker fans would handle a loss to their former coach. (The Huskers will visit B1G West rival Wisconsin in round two.) P.J. Fleck‘s boat is already a-rowin’ in Minneapolis where the Golden Gophers steamrolled Arizona State 59-17.
Oklahoma‘s 71-10 annihilation of UTEP is probably the other most believable result of the first round. This bracket contains Temple, the other mid-major I expect to make some noise in this tournament, as well as Baylor, who thankfully tapped out 24-10 to Utah State and let me avoid writing about them any further. Lastly, a talented Auburn team that got devastated by injuries down the stretch in 2017 returns healthy and ready to make a run.
PENN STATE’S BRACKET
This bracket features Kansas and Rutgers, so, nope no upsets here (Actually yes, Northern Illinois toppled Troy) . . . although the Jayhawks only lost to Pitt by five, which means Pitt would beat Texas by [math].
We’ll be updating this all throughout March Madness, a football event first and foremost.