What if? How a college football playoff would play out

Oregon

An outstanding day for Razorbacks’ quarterback Ryan Mallet gives his team a shot at beating anyone in the country. The Razorbacks have beaten South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU. Also, don’t forget that Arkansas led Auburn in the fourth quarter during a game where Mallet was injured for the whole second half. That being said, Oregon has the best offense in the country, and Arkansas is outside the top 40 in the country in total defense. For that reason and that reason alone, Oregon gets by in the first round.

Auburn

Auburn — and quarterback Cam Newton — just has a knack for the close win as half of their wins this year have been by less than a touchdown. The most impressive thing about Auburn that we’ve seen this year was their performance against Alabama. Auburn looked downright awful in the first half, I mean just horrific. And just when you thought they were dead and buried, they mounted a furious comeback against an Alabama team that has the talent to compete with anyone in the nation. Michigan State would put up a vicious test in the first round but Auburn would pull away late. The SEC and the Big Ten are the two strongest conferences in the country this year, and both teams are battle tested. Newton is just too good.

Ohio State

I am not picking Ohio State over TCU simply because of the conference affiliation. It is because I think that Ohio State has one of the best defenses in the country and that they have navigated through an immensely more difficult schedule than TCU has. I think the TCU-Ohio State matchup could be one of the best games of the playoff — hell, any game could be — but I’ll take Ohio State by a field goal.

That would set up a matchup between Auburn and the Buckeyes. What a matchup at quarterback we would see: Cam Newton vs. Terrelle Pryor. This is such a difficult game to pick because Cam Newton has the intangible of knowing how to perform in crunch time. At the same time, Ohio State is ranked second in the country in total defense. I think Auburn would fall behind early and against such a talented defense, Newton and Auburn would make one mistake too many in their second-half comeback attempt, and Ohio State earns a trip to the title game.

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin-Stanford game would be close in the first half, only to spiral out of control in the Badgers’ favor in the second. The Badgers’ offense, fueled by one of the best ground games in the country, is just too strong for a worthy Stanford defense.

Wisconsin’s win in the first round would set up a game against the Oregon Ducks in the semifinals. What a privilege it would be to watch these two offenses go at it. Oregon ranks first in total offense, led by Heisman hopeful LaMichael James. Wisconsin’s trio of backs — James White, John Clay and Montee Bell — have recorded 1,029, 936 and 864 yards rushing on the season respectively. I am going to give the nod to Wisconsin by a hair for two reasons. The Badgers put up 31 points of defense back in October, when Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the country. Also, Wisconsin has gone through a much more difficult Big Ten schedule than Oregon’s Pac 10 schedule.

National Championship

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

It isn’t the sexy matchup of Auburn vs. Oregon that we would all like to see, but the way the bracket was set up favors these two meeting in an all Big Ten title game. These two teams met back on Oct. 16, a game in which Wisconsin won 31-18. In this one, Terrelle Pryor would finally have a chance to live up to the enormous hype he entered the college football scene with and Wisconsin would have a chance for their first national championship in the school’s history. It is fitting that both teams in the championship game are from the Big Ten — a conference that boasts three teams in the top 10 — all of which would participate in this tournament. This game could go either way but in the end I think Wisconsin’s defense is good enough to stop Ohio State in the fourth quarter and the running game of Wisconsin is just barely good enough to score the points necessary against Ohio State’s defense. By a field goal, Wisconsin claims the title of national champions.