Over on SI.com, we are asking readers to vote in our Ultimate Playoff: 12 teams, in a bracket, to decide one champion. In the meantime, we asked our friends at EA Sports to simulate our playoff bracket using their vaunted NCAA Football 09 game engine. Here are the round-by-round results from their sim. (We subbed in the real player names even though their box scores only had jersey numbers, as per NCAA rules.)
Matchups (seeds): Penn State (8) vs. Boise State (9); Texas Tech (7) vs. Ohio State (10); USC (5) vs. Virginia Tech (12); Utah (6) vs. Cincinnati (11)
Game 1: Penn State 29, Boise State 16
The Nittany Lions were outgained in total offense, 361 to 331, but scored 16 fourth-quarter points to stay alive. Daryll Clark (#17) threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
Game 2: Texas Tech 35, Ohio State 28
At least the Buckeyes didn't get blown out, as has been their custom lately in big games. Red Raiders QB Graham Harrell threw four touchdown passes to offset Beanie Wells' big day (174 yards, TD) for Ohio State.
Game 3: USC 26, Virginia Tech 20, OT
Somehow the Hokies rolled up 438 yards on the stingy Trojans, and Mark Sanchez threw three picks, but Southern Cal got a huge game from wideout Patrick Turner, who caught nine passes for 118 yards and a score.
Game 4: Utah 19, Cincinnati 14
The still unbeaten Utes won this one with defense, limiting the Bearcats to 297 total yards. Another win and the Utes get a semifinal match against former coach Urban Meyer.
Four teams had first-round byes: Oklahoma (1), Florida (2), Texas (3) and Alabama (4). Now we'll see if the extra rest helped out.
Game 5: Florida 26, Texas Tech 17
Anybody betting the "over" on this would have been burned. Tim Tebow was held in check, throwing for 171 yards and running for 48. The difference was the four interceptions of the Red Raiders' Harrell.
Game 6: Alabama 34, USC 31
John Parker Wilson (must say all three names) went off, throwing for 380 yards and four touchdowns, including a 73-yard scoring strike. This will be sure to raise some howls from Pac-10 folk.
Game 7: Texas 38, Utah 17
Utah finally meets its match as Longhorns QB Colt McCoy throws for two touchdowns and the Texas D picks off Utes QB Brian Johnson three times.
Game 8: Oklahoma 45, Penn State 28
It's a rematch of the 1986 Orange Bowl Classic, but the Sooners aren't running a wishbone anymore. Sam Bradford torches the Lions for 345 yards and four TDs; OU compiles 507 total yards.
Game 9: Florida 40, Texas 28
Tebow connects on a 70-yard catch-and-run with Percy Harvin to put this one away for The Mighty Gators. Tebow threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns.
Game 10: Oklahoma 41, Alabama 34
Juaquin Iglesias paces the Sooners' attack with 100 yards and a TD on seven catches. John Parker Wilson's luck runs out as he throws two crucial interceptions in crunch time. Nick Saban officially goes on the hot seat.
Game 11: Florida 46, Oklahoma 42
In a fitting way, the EA simulation final is the same as the real-life championship game. The SEC wins its third straight national championship as Tebow throws for four TDs and 350 yards in what may be his farewell game. Gators wideout Louis Murphy also stars with 128 yards and two scores. Bradford throws for 335 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT in a losing effort.
Final results bracket: