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1985 Today (Part One)

I don’t think I can adequately describe the thought process that led me to writing this post (and the ones that follow), but I’ll try.

I started with my hearing/reading "Bowls don’t mean as much as they used to" one too many times.  I thought, Okay...let’s see what woud have happened if today’s bowls existed exactly as they did in 1985.  Why 1985?  I mean, I could have done some time in the ‘70s or something, when there were even fewer bowls, but...1985 is the year I truly and completely fell in love with college football.  It was my first formative sports year, period...the year I got totally hooked.  My dad liked the Royals, so I rooted for them with him, and they won the World Series.  I loved Refrigerator Perry and the rest of the ’85 Bears, and they won the Super Bowl.  And I loved Jamielle Holloway and the ’85 Sooners, and they won the national title.  I liked Mizzou, too, and they went 1-10 that season, but still...I thought, This sports thing is for me!

(Of course, my dad liked the Red Sox too, and I rooted for Boston in ’86...oops...and the Bears never came close to another Super Bowl...and my OU-obsessed relatives quickly soured me on the Sooners...and then I adopted my own teams—Pirates, Trail Blazers, etc.—and it continued to go downhill from there...but hey, 1985 sure was great, wasn’t it?)

But more than that, I’ve started to realize why, even today, I like some teams more than others (or hate them less than others).  Why do I root for Navy over Army every year?  Because in 1985, they sucked and Army was good, and I always rooted for the underdog.  Why did I grow up liking UCLA but not USC?  Because they upset Iowa in the Rose Bowl (and I always rooted for the underdog).  Why did I like Michigan for a long time (I’ve very much gotten over that one)?  Because UM beat Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl that season, and I hated Nebraska because I loved OU.  (For that matter, why do I hate Florida and Miami-FL, but not Florida State?  Because they whooped Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl a couple years later.)  I’m not saying this is logical in any way, but I’ve begun to connect the dots.  

Anyway, it all starts with ’85.  

Click 'Full Story' for more.

I was going to take today’s teams and plug them into 1985’s bowls to see if bowls "back in the day" really were better or more interesting or more prestigious.  Of course, I ran into a problem.  What to do about the Big 8 (whose champ went to the Orange Bowl) and SWC (Cotton)?  What to do about the fact that there really wasn’t an automatic bid for the ACC champ?  What to do about the fact that the Big East didn’t even exist (and most of its teams were independents)?  Too many questions.  You know what would be easier and (maybe) more interesting?  Recreating 1985—start to finish—with today’s teams.  What if, after 1985, Division 1A was completely frozen—no new teams could enter 1A, no teams could switch (or enter) new conferences.  Everything in 2007 is as it was in 1985.

For one thing, that would mean that Boise State (who didn’t enter 1A until 1996), South Florida (who didn’t even field a team until the ‘90s), and probably Marshall would be crushing teams in 1-AA.  And teams like Penn State, Florida State, South Carolina, Boston College, etc., would still be independents.  And the Pacific Coast Athletics Association (PCAA) would exist instead of today’s WAC.  And Pacific, Fullerton State, and Wichita State still have football teams.  And today’s Mountain West would still be yesterday’s WAC.  Got all that?  I’m sure you do.  Today’s teams, yesterday’s conferences...and yesterday’s schedules.  

That’s right, yesterday’s schedules.

If you’re a nerd, and you’re reading this, this has to be a bit intriguing, right?  Consider this whole experiment a variation of my old Mizzou Sanity "What If...?" bits.  I’m at my best when I’m using my imagination for strange, useless purposes.

Alright, so let’s get started.  Excluding Boise State and South Florida, I’m starting with this year’s preseason AP Top 25.

  1. USC
  1. LSU
  1. West Virginia
  1. Texas
  1. Michigan
  1. Florida
  1. Wisconsin
  1. Oklahoma
  1. Virginia Tech
  1. Louisville
  1. Ohio State
  1. California
  1. Georgia
  1. UCLA
  1. Tennessee
  1. Rutgers
  1. Penn State
  1. Auburn
  1. Florida State
  1. Nebraska
  1. Arkansas
  1. TCU
  1. Hawaii
  1. Texas A&M
  1. Missouri

(And if you’re wondering, I got all the historical game information at jhowell’s immeasurably useful site.)

Here’s how I’m going to decide the winner of each game.  A) If they played this season, there you go.  If the home/away status is flipped, I’ll alter the score by roughly 7 points (everything I’ve read says home-field advantage accounts for roughly that).  B) If they didn’t play this season...well...I’m just gonna throw out a guess of how it would play out, sometimes explaining my logic, sometimes not.  Sounds reasonably simple.

Home team in ALL CAPS.

Week One Games of Interest

August 29
Kickoff Classic: Boston College > BYU (at Giants Stadium)

August 31
CINCINNATI > #9 Virginia Tech (VT started slowly this year...with very good reason)
#12 CALIFORNIA > San Jose State
#19 Florida State > TULANE

September 2
#13 GEORGIA > Alabama (RV)

And the game of the week...
Kansas > #23 HAWAII (Seriously, how great would that game have been this year?  And I very much believe that KU would have pulled it off.)

Week Two Games of Interest

September 7
#1 Southern Cal > ILLINOIS (great game in Champaign!)
#6 Florida > MIAMI-FL
#9 California > WASHINGTON STATE (Wazzu actually won this game in ’07, but it was late in the year, when Cal was tanking)
BYU > #13 ucla (one problem with the ‘ALL CAPS’ thing)
#17 Penn State > MARYLAND
#20 NEBRASKA > #18 Florida State (NU was at its best in Week One, and FSU wasn’t really at its best all year...actually, its best just wasn’t very good)
#19 AUBURN > UL-Lafayette
COLORADO > Colorado State
WASHINGTON > Oklahoma State
KANSAS STATE > Wichita State

And the game of the week...Gameday in Morgantown...
#3 WEST VIRGINIA > #10 Louisville

So the Top 25 after two weeks looks like this...

  1. USC (1-0)
  1. LSU (0-0)
  1. West Virginia (1-0)
  1. Texas (0-0)
  1. Florida (1-0)
  1. Michigan (0-0)
  1. Wisconsin (0-0)
  1. California (2-0)
  1. Oklahoma (0-0...first game: September 28!!)
  1. Georgia (1-0)
  1. Ohio State (0-0)
  1. Tennessee (0-0)
  1. Rutgers (0-0)
  1. Louisville (0-1)
  1. Penn State (1-0)
  1. Nebraska (1-0)
  1. Virginia Tech (1-1)
  1. Auburn (1-0)
  1. UCLA (0-1)
  1. Arkansas (0-0)
  1. TCU (0-0)
  1. Texas A&M (0-0)
  1. Boston College (2-0)
  1. Missouri (0-0)
  1. Florida State (1-1)

Gameday in Gainesville next week for #13 Rutgers at #5 Florida!  And Missouri makes its season debut, hosting Northwestern...who just lost to Duke.

Stay tuned for Part Two...I know you will...