UPDATE, 11:20am - Made a couple of changes, as I just couldn't stomach the thought of Brock Berlin engineering a win on Owen Field. Just wouldn't have happened.
With as much parity that seems to exist in today's college football landscape, would a 16-team playoff have resulted in even more parity? In this walk through alternate history, we've had repeat champs in 2000-01 in Miami, and then a team going for a three-peat in 2004...and let's face it--in the end, nobody even came close to that '04 USC team, no matter what Auburn fans want to think.
Conference Champions: Auburn, Boise State, Louisville, Michigan, North Texas, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Toledo, USC, Utah, Virginia Tech
At-Large Bids: California, Georgia, LSU, Miami-FL, Texas
Biggest Snubs: Iowa, Tennessee
1 USC murders 16 North Texas in LA
9 Louisville def. 8 Boise State in Boise
5 Texas def. 12 LSU in Austin
13 Michigan def. 4 California in Berkeley
6 Utah squeaks by 11 Virginia Tech in SLC
3 Auburn def. 14 Pittsburgh in Auburn
10 Miami-FL def. 7 Georgia in Athens
2 Oklahoma def. 15 Toledo in Norman
A few upsets here, but nothing major--Michigan bounces back from a disappointing '03 tourney with an upset over Aaron Rodgers and tourney newcomer Cal, while Miami takes out UGa in Athens. Also: Louisville defeats Boise in a fantastic game that replicates that year's Liberty Bowl (a game which The Beef, The Boy's Wife, and MU 1839 attended...because why not??).
1 USC def. 9 Louisville in LA
5 Texas def. 13 Michigan in Austin
6 Utah def. 3 Auburn in Auburn
10 Miami-FL def. 2 Oklahoma in Norman2 Oklahoma def. 10 Miami-FL in Norman
I'm making two dicey picks here. First, I'm saying Utah over Auburn because a) Urban Meyer is simply an outstanding coach, and b) Auburn just didn't look very good against a good-not-great Virginia Tech team in the Sugar Bowl that year.
Second, I'm saying Miami over Oklahoma in Norman because OU obviously looked like crap in the Orange Bowl that year...and that's about it. Not a lot of logic behind that one. All it does is change who gets murdered by USC in the finals. Yeah, Oklahoma looked like crap in the Orange Bowl, but they still have the best home-field advantage in college football, so they ride Adrian Peterson to the semis.
1 USC def. 5 Texas in the Rose Bowl
10 Miami-FL 2 Oklahoma def. 6 Utah in the Orange Bowl 2 Oklahoma 10 Miami-FL def. 13 Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl
3 Auburn def. 9 Louisville in the Sugar Bowl
A couple of very enjoyable consolation BCS games set up a couple of enjoyable semifinals. The 2005 Rose Bowl was Vince Young's coming-out party, and while I think USC wins this game, it is a very fun game that offers foreshadowing for the climax of the 2005 tournament. Meanwhile, Utah really could have possibly beaten
Miami Oklahoma in '04, but we'll say that Miami Oklahoma pulls it out in the Orange Bowl. And here's a question: if Miami makes the finals in '04, does Larry Coker get fired after '05?
1 USC def. 2 Oklahoma
10 Miami-FL in Miami
Forgone conclusion. This USC team was unbelievable. Three-peat.