Sunday, January 01, 2012

Steve's 2011 College Football Sim

Happy New Year! Unlike 2 years ago, when I didn't manage to post the the results of my college football blowup sim until late February, or last year, where I posted on January 23, 13 days after the end of the actual season, I actually finished my college football simulation while bowls were still being played, on December 27. Believe it or not, I even finished my sim before Ryan! His post is coming soon. Here is a link to Ryan's results from last year. I'll take the liberty of letting you follow the link to his post where he links to the origin of the college football reorganization that we came up with and how our sim is structured. Here are some fun facts from my sim this year, then I'll get into the conference breakdowns:

- There seemed to be a lot more parity and crazy upsets this year.
- Only 3 of my conference champs went 9-0 in conference, while 7 were 8-1 and 2 were 7-2. Last year 7 went 9-0. Tiebreakers were needed in 3 conferences. Two were decided by the head to head winner and the other was decided by overall record (Midwest)
- Only 2 conferences saw the conference champ win by more than 1 game (Florida by 2 over Miami, Florida State, and UCF in Florida and Alabama by 3 over Georgia Tech and Georgia in Dixie)
- My strongest conference was the Gulf Coast, who went 65-55 overall.
- The worst conference was the Mountain West, who went 53-67.
- 3 of my 12 playoff teams from last year returned: Alabama, Boise State, and Michigan State
- Only 2 of the real-life 10 BCS teams made my tournament: Alabama and West Virginia, but 3 of them finished 2nd in their conference. Michigan was only 6-6 and Clemson was only 7-5 (but they started 6-0)
- 3 of last year's conference champs fell hard this year: Hawaii (2-10), Pittsburgh (4-8), and Air Force (4-8)
- There weren't any huge turnaround stories from conference champs this year. The closest were Houston and USC, who were only 6-6 last year. Syracuse was 8-4 (6-3) last year and this year that same overall record (with 1 more conference win) was enough for them to win New England
- 3 BCS schools finished dead last in their conference (Minnesota and Nebraska from the Big Ten and UCLA from the Pac-12)
- 4 of my conference champions are switching their real life conference in 2012 (Houston from C-USA to Big East, Boise State from Mountain West to Big East, West Virginia from Big East to Big 12, and Syracuse from Big East to ACC)
- The SEC had 3 teams represent them in the tournament (Alabama, Florida, Tennessee) and the ACC got shut out
- If you use next year's alignments, the SEC and Big 12 (Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia) would each have 3 teams, the Big East would still have 2 but totally different representatives (West Virginia and Syracuse changing to Houston and Boise State), the ACC would actually have a team (Syracuse), and the Mountain West/Conference USA planned conglomerate would be shut out
- I only had 2 12-0 teams overall: Florida and Alabama
- I did not have a single 0-12 team, but I had 2 1-11 teams: North Texas and UCLA. North Texas got their only win over Army in what was the first game of the 731 from my entire sim.

Here are the results, conference by conference by conference.

New England - Champion: Syracuse
This was a crazy conference this year. Syracuse opened the non-conference schedule by getting absolutely crushed by Texas A&M and UTEP and lost their first conference game to UConn, which made them 1-3. Meanwhile, defending champs Temple started 8-0 and were looking unstoppable. Temple lost 3 in a row to Boston College, Syracuse, and Maryland and all of the sudden Syracuse was in 1st place. Syracuse celebrated that by getting destroyed by Penn State. Five teams had a shot to win the conference going into the last week and Temple even got a nice win at Penn State to set themselves up, but Syracuse got the job done against Maryland to win the conference
Order of finish: Syracuse, Temple, UConn, Penn State, Boston College, Buffalo, Army, Maryland, Rutgers, Navy

Appalachian - Champion: West Virginia
The Mountaineers took this conference by going 8-1 and 10-2 overall, losing only to Cincinnati in the final conference game (they had already clinched at that point) and to Miami (FL) in non-conference play. They made short work of Virginia Tech in a showdown game with them, but Virginia Tech also had slips against Louisville and Purdue in non-conference play. Ohio had an impressive 8-4 record
Order of Finish: West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Marshall, Virginia, Kentucky, Miami (OH)

Great Lakes - Champion: Michigan State
Unlike last year when they went 12-0, the Spartans took their lumps in non-conference play, going 0-3 against North Carolina, Boise State, and Alabama. They turned around and ran the table in this very weak conference, where their only real competition was Toledo (who went 8-1, but got blow out by Michigan State). Ohio State was terrible. They only went 4-8 overall and lost to Toledo 54-6.
Order of Finish: Michigan State, Toledo, Bowling Green, Michigan, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Ohio State, Akron, Kent State

Tobacco Road - Champion: Tennessee
Vanderbilt was initially the story of this conference, starting off with a 9-0 record. As the season went on, it became apparent that a Week 11 showdown between Tennessee and Vanderbilt was looming, and both teams actually lost in Week 10 before playing. Tennessee beat Vandy, and went on to win the conference with a 8-1 (10-2) record. It should be noted how horrible Memphis could be at times. The ended up going 3-9 but they were shut out 4 times and also lost the biggest blowout of the season, a 75-3 beating from Tennessee
Order of Finish: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke, Western Kentucky, East Carolina, NC State, Memphis, Middle Tennessee

Midwest - Champion: Iowa
This is another conference where it became apparent early on that Iowa and Wisconsin would have a showdown with the winner likely winning the conference. The only difference was Iowa went 3-0 against a relatively tricky non-conference schedule while Wisconsin suffered blowout losses to Florida State and Oklahoma State. When they met in Week 11, Wisconsin picked up the easy win. However, in the final game of the season, Wisconsin got stunned by Notre Dame and Iowa won, putting them both at 8-1 conference record, and since Iowa was 11-1 and Wisconsin was 9-3, Iowa got to go to the tournament. Purdue had a promising start, shockingly winning that game at Virginia Tech that I warned about last year, but they only ended up finishing 5-7, losing to Ball State and Northern Illinois along the way. Minnesota was awful, going 2-10, but somehow they beat Notre Dame in their only conference win.
Order of Finish: Iowa, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Ball State, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Northern Illinois, Minnesota

Florida - Champion: Florida
Florida, who were only 6-6 in real life, ran the table in this conference and had a perfect 12-0 season. They had their fair share of close wins along the way, never really looking like a dominant team. However, whatifsports always picked them to win in the end.
Order of Finish: Florida, Miami (FL), Florida State, UCF, Southern Miss, Florida International, South Florida, Troy, Tulane, Florida Atlantic

Great Plains - Champion: Oklahoma
This was a very interesting conference. Defending National Champs Oklahoma State started the season 5-0 absolutely running up scores on teams, while Oklahoma lost to Florida in non-conference play and Arkansas lost their conference opener to Tulsa. Then, Oklahoma State got upset by Iowa State and started putting up smaller scores each week. Oklahoma continued to win until getting beat by Arkansas in Week 10, who already had 2 conference losses at that point. That set up a virtual elimination game in Week 11 between Arkansas and Oklahoma State, with the winner being able to win the conference title with an Oklahoma State win over Oklahoma in Week 12. Arkansas ended up winning the game and were in position to steal the conference title, but Oklahoma ended up beating Oklahoma State 59-55 in a crazy 2 OT shootout. On a side note, Nebraska somehow went 2-10 overall, losing to Arkansas State at home and blowing a 20+ point 4th quarter lead to Tulsa. I think Bo Pelini got fired in the simulation world.
Order of Finish: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Tulsa, Kansas, Arkansas State, Kansas State, Nebraska

Dixie - Champion: Alabama
Yawn. Yet another boring 12-0 finish for Alabama. Clemson started 6-0 until losing 41-13 to the Tide, and only finished 7-5 overall. Georgia Tech finished 2nd with only a 6-3 conference record.
Order of Finish: Alabama, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Mississippi State, Clemson, Auburn, UAB, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Louisiana-Monroe

Gulf Coast - Champion: Houston
This was yet another crazy conference, where 6 teams were in the hunt for most of the season. Houston lost big at Texas early, but then turned it around and won at LSU the following week. LSU got beat by Louisiana-Lafayette in what may be the biggest upset ever in my sim. LSU also lost to SMU and Stanford in non-conference play. SMU was extremely good, finishing 10-2 overall and actually had a shot to win the conference if Houston had lost in the final week because Houston lost a crazy 5 OT shootout to Baylor in non-conference play, 64-62.
Order of Finish: Houston, SMU, LSU, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas, Louisiana Tech, Rice, Louisiana-Lafayette, North Texas

Mountain West - Champion: Texas Tech
Just like last year, this conference was just awful again. Texas Tech, Baylor, and BYU ended up finishing 7-2 in conference but BYU only finished 7-5 overall, eliminating them from the tiebreaker with the other 2 teams, who finished 8-4. Texas Tech beat Baylor in the final week of the season to win the conference.
Order of Finish: Texas Tech, Baylor, BYU, Colorado, Wyoming, Colorado State, UTEP, Air Force, New Mexico State, New Mexico

Great Basin - Champion: Boise State
Just like last year and seemingly every year, this conference came down to one game, Boise State at Oregon, which Boise won 37-20. However, unlike last year, both teams were not undefeated in conference play going into the game. Oregon was 8-0 while Boise slipped up against Nevada in Week 11. Boise State also lost to Alabama, but luckily for them Oregon also had a non-conference loss to 4-8 Ohio State, which allowed the head-to-head tiebreaker to take effect.
Order of Finish: Boise State, Oregon, Washington State, Nevada, Washington, Utah State, Oregon State, Idaho, Utah, UNLV

California - Champion: USC
Since we aren't the NCAA, USC has no sanctions and was allowed to participate in the tournament. They pretty much dominated the conference play but surprisingly lost to Fresno State on the road the week before beating Arizona to clinch the conference title. Not much else to say about this conference other than Fresno State and Arizona did surprisingly well, while UCLA was bad this year, but probably not 1-11 bad. Defending conference champ Hawaii was only 2-10.
Order of Finish: USC, Arizona, Stanford, Fresno State, California, San Diego State, San Jose State, Arizona State, Hawaii, UCLA

Well the tournament is set here are the results:
First Round
#8 Oklahoma vs. #9 Tennessee - Tennessee wins 19-13 - The playoffs kicked off with a scoreless first quarter. Each team traded field goals and Oklahoma took a 10-3 lead into the half. The game entered the 4th quarter tied at 13 but Derrick Brodus tacked on 2 more field goals for the Vols to give them the win. Landry Jones had a disappointing game for the Sooners, throwing 3 INTs
#5 Houston vs. #12 Texas Tech - Houston wins 41-3 - Good old fashioned Texas shootout here. The teams traded TDs until Tech kicked a field goal to be down 27-24 in the 3rd Quarter. Houston took a 34-24 lead into the 4th but Texas Tech responded with 2 TDs to take a 38-34 lead with 2:29 to go. However, the Cougars have Case Keenum, who successfully led Houston on a game winning TD drive, capped off with a Michael Hayes rushing TD with 13 seconds left. Keenum threw for 365 yards and 2 TDs
#6 Boise State vs. #11 Syracuse - Boise State wins 52-17 - Not surprisingly, this game was all Boise. The Orange came out early and punched the giants in the mouth, holding a 10-0 lead half way through the 2nd quarter. The Broncos responded by scoring 52 unanswered points which included 2 punt return TDs before Syracuse got a garbage time TD in the 4th. Doug Martin from Boise ran for 85 yards and 2 TDs.
#7 West Virginia vs. #10 Michigan State - Michigan State wins 30-23 - Another game with a slow first half, the Mountaineers took a 10-3 lead into the 2nd half. In the 2nd half, Kirk Cousins got the offense going and Michigan State took a 13-10 lead before West Virginia tied it going into the 4th. That's when things got exciting. Michigan State took a 23-13 lead with only 6 minutes to go after an Edwin Baker TD. West Virginia fought back and tied it with 1:56 to go. Cousins then led the Spartans on a game winning TD drive, connecting with Edwin Baker with 53 seconds to go.

Quarter Finals
#1 Alabama vs. #9 Tennessee - Alabama wins 67-16 - Alabama was just awesome here. After an opening FG by the Vols, the Tide answered with 24 points (3 Trent Richardson TDs). Tennessee finally scored a TD to make it 24-10, and Alabama again responded with 3 TDs to take a 40-10 lead early in the 3rd. Not to be outdone, Trent Richardson scored 2 more TDs. In total, Richardson ran for 235 yards and 5 TD, and AJ McCarron had 424 yards passing and 2 TDs
#4 Iowa vs. #5 Houston - Houston wins 44-27 - The cougars came out strong, taking an early 21-0 lead with 3 Case Keenum TD passes. From that point Iowa was trying to play catchup all day but only got within 11 points. Keenum threw for 312 yards and 4 TDs. In a losing effort, Iowa's Marcus Coker ran for 134 yards.
#3 USC vs. #6 Boise State - Boise State wins 45-41 - The Broncos came out on top of a great passing showdown between Kellen Moore and Matt Barkley. Boise took a 10-3 lead into the 2nd. USC bounced back with 3 TDs (2 of them long Curtis McNeal TD runs) in the 2nd to take a 24-17 lead going into the half. In the 3rd, USC increased their lead to 34-24. In the 4th, Kellen Moore came alive, throwing 2 quick TDs to put Boise ahead 38-34. USC responded with yet another McNeal TD run to take a 41-38 lead. Boise capped off the game with another Moore TD pass to DJ Harper. The Broncos D was able to get a turnover on downs in their own territory to hold the lead and get the win. Moore had 314 yards and 5 TDs. Barkley had 316 yards and 2 TDs. McNeal ran for 192 yards and had 3 TDs.
#2 Florida vs. #10 Michigan State - Florida wins 24-14 - The Florida D kept Kirk Cousins in check, and John Brantley managed to throw for 337 yards and 3 TDs. Cousins was only able to lead the Spartans on 1 scoring drive, because the other Michigan State TD was a punt return.

#1 Alabama vs. #5 Houston - Alabama wins 28-23 - Just like in the previous round, Trent Richardson was out of control. He ran for 139 yards and 2 TDs and had a receiving TD. Houston kept it close though. They actually took a 16-14 lead into the 4th quarter, but the Tide quickly scored 2 TDs to go up 28-16. Keenum managed to score another TD to make it 28-23 and Houston even got the ball back with 1:33 to go, but their final drive came up short on a hail mary in the endzone, putting Alabama in the championship game.
#2 Florida vs. #6 Boise State - Florida wins 31-29 - This was another exciting back and forth game. Florida started with a 14-7 lead but Boise answered with a Doug Martin TD. After the TD, they missed the extra point, leaving Florida ahead 14-13. Both teams scored TDs and FGs to leave Florida ahead 24-23. With 5:20 to go, Jeff Demps caught a TD from Brantley to put Florida up by 8 (thanks to the missed extra point). Boise responded with a Tyler Shoemaker TD with 2:29 to go, but their 2 point conversion attempt failed. The missed extra point cost Boise the game. There was a lot of offense in this game. Moore threw for 371 yards and Brantley for 335. Florida also ran the ball well. Chris Rainey had 141 yards and Jeff Demps had 104 yards 2 TDs, and a recieving TD.

The Championship Game
#1 Alabama vs. #2 Florida - Florida wins 37-13 - The semi-finals set up an interesting #1 vs. #2 national championship between the only 2 undefeated teams. As far as the result goes, wow. The Gators, who were only 6-6 in real life this year, are the national champs of my sim. This game was no contest. After an early Trent Richardson TD, the Gators answered with 37 unanswered points led by the unstoppable rushing attack of Chris Rainey (130 yards, TD) and Jeff Demps (110 yards, 2 TDs). John Brantley also threw for 380 yards and a TD. From our past experience, for some odd reason usually teams that do well in our sim end up being national title contenders the folowing year (like Oklahoma State, who won my sim last year) so maybe the Gators will be back in the national title picture next year.

So, just like last year, these sims are time consuming, but a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to doing this again next year. Go put some money on the Gators to make a BCS bowl.

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