Sweet 16 - East
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What is this?
Since NCAA Football desperately needs a playoff, why not create one? 16 teams were chosen (11 conference winners and five at-large bids) and placed into brackets. Dan Biggio, Chad McCleary and I will take a look at each game and decide who we think will win the game. The team that moves on to the next round will be the team that gets two votes to win out of the three predictions. The predictions for each game will be posted during the time listed for each contest (i.e. Oklahoma-Toledo will be posted 12:00 Friday).







#1 Oklahoma (12-0) vs. #8 Toledo (9-3).
Friday, 12:00 ET

Walt's Take:
No number one seed has ever been upset in the first round of the NCAA Basketball tournament, and that trend will continue in the college football tournament. Toledo has a potent passing attack-facilitated by Bruce Gradkowski-who has accumulated 3,475 yards and 27 touchdowns this season. However, the Rockets will not score enough points to keep pace with Oklahoma, because they lack a reliable running game. The Sooners are susceptible to aerial attacks, but not when the opposition has a one-dimensional offense. Toledo may score a touchdown or two, but definitely not enough to come close to Oklahoma.

Heisman hopeful Adrian Peterson will eclipse the 200-rushing yard barrier, allowing Jason White to utilize play-action, shredding a Toledo defense that allowed 63 points to Minnesota and Kansas earlier this season.

Oklahoma 49, Toledo 10

NCAA Dan's Take:
The mark of a Bob Stoops team traditionally has been great defense. Oklahoma won a national championship a few years back under Stoops with a terrific defense. This year's team is no exception. The Oklahoma Sooners are a very physical and aggressive defense. They handed the Texas Longhorns their only loss of the season, shutting them out 12-0. So we know how good the Sooners D is. This year's team has another weapon in its arsenal however. He is the QB of the Sooners, and he won the Heisman Trophy last season. The Sooners can not only beat you with a great defense, but they can outscore you if need be. Toledo, on the other hand, has not been playing the Texas Longhorns or other teams of the caliber than Oklahoma has this season. Toledo did beat Bowling Green and Miami(OH) for the MAC Championship in Detroit. But they also lost to Miami in the regular seaon. And early on they were blown out by Minnesota of the Big 10. Chester Taylor is no longer on this team, and the Rockets simply will not be able to keep up with the Sooners. Toledo has not seen a defense the caliber that Stoops will throw at him. Big day for Jason White. Sooners in a laugher.

Oklahoma 41, Toledo 14

Chad's Take:
Toledo has a nice little football team. They returned 14 starters and were one of three or four pre-season picks to win the MAC. Guess what, they did. The Rockets have a potent offense as was expected-Bruce Gradkowski, their 6-2 junior quarterback threw for almost 3,500 yards and 27 touchdowns-while they also averaged 167 rushing yards. Toledo's soft defense is their Achilles Heel as they gave up 63 each to Kansas and Minnesota in the first two games of the season, and allowed more than 30 points on three other occasions.

Oklahoma, well they are Oklahoma; their defense is not as dominant as in years past but they are still very athletic and as a result quite dangerous. Their biggest failing is in pass coverage and pass rushing, and I would expect Toledo to score some points. I stress the word "some." The Sooners' offense is the best, most consistent and most versatile in the country outside of Utah's scoring unit. They will pour it on against Toledo. Oklahoma has three receivers who have combined to score 24 touchdowns, and of course, Andrian Peterson has rushed for 1,800 yards.

Oklahoma struggled early in the Bowling Green game the first week of the season, but they have improved. Toledo will score some touchdowns-maybe even three-but the Sooners are playing with the passion that comes from falling short last year.

Oklahoma 61, Toledo 24

Winner: #1 Oklahoma




#4 Virginia Tech (10-2) vs. #5 Tennessee (9-3).
Friday, 3:30 ET

Walt's Take:
Virginia Tech must be commended for winning a very competitive ACC. They are on a torrid eight-game winning streak, with victories over West Virginia, Virginia and Miami. The return of Mike Imoh gives the Hokies a spark, but Bryan Randall will be the focal point of their offense. Tennessee is capable of stopping the run (3.4 yards per carry allowed this season), but their pass defense is anemic. Jason Campbell shredded the Vols secondary for 374 yards. Tennessee will not be able to contain Virginia Tech's offense.

Since their loss to USC, the Hokies have not allowed more than 210 passing yards per game. They have also restricted running backs to 3.3 yards per rush this season. Phil Fulmer will attempt to run the ball with Gerald Riggs and Cedric Houston, but Virginia Tech's stellar defense will deny them the first downs they are accustom to obtaining. Tennessee's top two quarterbacks are injured, so third-string quarterback Rick Clausen will be forced to convert many long-yardage situations. That's not happening.

Virginia Tech 27, Tennessee 13

NCAA Dan's Take:
Virginia Tech and Tennessee. Terrific ACC-SEC matchup here. Phil Fulmer's Vols have a solid team, only losing to two teams the entire season. The Vols lost to Auburn twice, including once in a wild SEC Championship game, and then a disappointing loss to an inconsistent Notre Dame team. The Vols have been involved in several close games this season, including some of their impressive wins (Georgia 19-14 and Florida 30-28). The Hokies impressive resume includes coming in to this game as ACC Champions, beating their former nemesis from the Big East, the Miami Hurricanes in Miami to become champions of the ACC. Beamer preaches defense and special teams, and this team is great in both areas. They held the Hurricanes to less than 200 yards of total offense in the ACC Championship game. The Hokies never allowed more than 24 points all season, ranking them among the best defenses in Division 1A. This team lost only twice all season, by one point to the NC State Wolfpack, and a kickoff clasic game in Washington D.C. to the USC Trojans, in a game the Hokies had a chance to win right until the end. Virginia Tech's running game and Brian Randall at the helm will give the Hokies enough offense to win. This should be a pretty good battle, a physical game, but in the end the Hokies D will prove too much for the Vols. Virginia Tech by 10 in a low scoring game.

Virginia Tech 20, Tennessee 10

Chad's Take:
Tennessee returned only nine starters, and although they were 10-3 last year, they werenít exactly the dominant team they have been in years past. However, there is always talent in Knoxville and this year was no exception. They were drubbed early on by Auburn, and had a lay-down performance against Notre Dame at home, in which Erick Ainge was hurt. The SEC Championship against Auburn would have been the culmination of a great season. As it was, they played tough but still fell short. The Volunteers have two strong running backs, but Ainge will not return this year and their defense has been very porous of late.

Virginia Tech had lost some of their panache in recent years as late-season collapses had left fans and pollsters wondering if Frank Beamer had taken them as far as he could. They joined the ACC and most people expected they would finish in the middle of the pack. They played USC valiantly but lost and then lost a heart-breaker to a competitive North Carolina State team, 17-16. However, after that they really found their identity, building great momentum with season-ending wins against highly ranked Virginia and Miami. Their defense has been its usual dominant self, as they have given up only 15 touchdowns and 265 total yds. The offense has been very solid. They have four running backs who ran the ball to the tune of 331, 466, 595 and 704 yards, respectively. The much maligned Bryan Randall passed for 1,965 yards, 19 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.

This game is hard to gauge. Tennessee has boat-loads of athletes but their defense is extremely inconsistent. Conversely, the Hokies are simply too consistent.

Virginia Tech 21, Tennessee 13

Winner: #4 Virginia Tech




#3 Texas (10-1) vs. #6 Georgia (9-2).
Saturday, 12:00 ET

Walt's Take:
Two very similar teams collide in this intriguing 3-6 matchup. Both squads have very talented players but seem to fall short in big games. Texas went down to Oklahoma (again), 12-0, while Georgia was embarrassed by Auburn, 24-6. Both teams also stop the run very well.

The difference between Georgia and Texas is at the quarterback position. David Greene is an experienced player and a tremendous leader. He has thrown for 2,244 yards, 18 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Conversely, Vince Young is a threat as a runner, but he is hardly feared when he throws the ball. His numbers pale in comparison to Greene's: 1,669 yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The Longhorns have the better running game, but the Bulldogs are very capapble of stopping opposing ground attacks.

Greene takes down Young in the first upset of the NCAA Football tournament. Can six-seeds knocking off three-seeds be the football version of a 12-seed knocking off a five-seed in the NCAA Basketball tournament? We'll have to wait and see.

Georgia 16, Texas 13

NCAA Dan's Take:
This may be one of the best Longhorn teams Mack Brown has ever had. The team can flat out score points. The only team to hold the Longhorns under 21 points this season was the Oklahoma Sooners. Not coincidentally, this was the only game that Texas lost. The Georgia Bulldogs had a good season as well, losing only two games: a close 19-14 battle against Tennessee, and 24-6 to Auburn. But then again everyone lost to Auburn.

Georgia is lead by David Greene, a strong armed quarterback, who will be playing in the NFL. Georgia was involved in a lot of close games this season, including close wins against Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, and in-state rival Georgia Tech. I look for a very close contest between the Bulldogs and Longhorns. Georgia will give Texas all they can handle, but in the end, I look for Texas to escape this game with a win. Longhorns by a field goal.

Texas 27, Georgia 24

Chad's Take:
What a great matchup. Georgia returned 15 players from a team that went 11-3, while being absolutely decimated by injuries last year. Texas returned 14 and, well, they are Texas, maddeningly inconsistent but fantastically athletic.

No one outside of Minnesota is as explosive running the football as the Longhorns. Cedric Benson has had an outstanding career with 3,706 rushing yards coming into this year and 1,764 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns this season. Vince Young has improved as a passer, but he is still quite erratic and quite frankly just as volatile passing (10 interceptions) as he is dangerous running-884 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Texas' defense has been much more dominant than they have in years past, only giving up 12 points in their annual loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout. In fact they only surrendered 317 yards per game and 20 touchdowns this season, which is spectacular based on the quality of competition they face week-in and week-out in the Big XII.

Georgia plays aggressive passionate football. Their defense is always dominant and this year was no exception, giving up 294 yards per contest and 19 touchdowns. They were defeated 19-14 by Tennessee and 24-6 by an incredible Auburn squad.

Georgia is always there but in the end they just cannot quite get it done. David Greene is a very heady contributor and doesnít make any mistakes. He only threw two interceptions all year and was sacked just 13 times. Pretty remarkable considering the caliber of defenses they play in the SEC.

This time Georgia gets it done, assuming they donít pressure Vince Young into a 200 yard rushing game. I look for the Bulldogs to control tempo, give up the occasional long run and force enough bad throws by Young to win.

Georgia 21, Texas 17

Winner: #6 Georgia




#2 Auburn (12-0) vs. #7 Pittsburgh (8-3).
Saturday, 3:30 ET

Walt's Take:
Pittsburgh belongs in this tournament because they won the pathetic Big East, but there is no reason for them to be in a real BCS bowl. After all, the Panthers lost to Nebraska and Connecticut, and were nearly beaten by Temple and the Furman.

Tyler Palko is a very talented quarterback. He threw for 2,816 yards, 23 touchdowns and just seven interceptions this season. However, he and receiver Greg Lee are the only talented offensive players on the team. Translation: Pitt cannot run the football, meaning Auburn's great defense can focus on containing Palko without loading up against the run.

Jason Campbell will torch the Panthers pathetic secondary, which has allowed more than 280 passing yards four times this season. With the Pitt defensive players worrying about the talented tandem of Auburn running backs-Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown-Campbell will have all day to throw.

Auburn 38, Pittsburgh 10

NCAA Dan's Take:
This is an interesting matchup. On one hand, Pittsburgh feels like they have something to prove. Even in a 16-team playoff, many people are saying they still are not one of the 16 best teams in the country. Auburn, on the other hand, won the SEC and went undefeated in the regular season. This is a solid matchup for the Tigers. Until the SEC Championship game, Auburn was one of only two teams in the country not to have given up more than 21 points in a football game (the other was Penn State). Auburn has a championship caliber defense, and their offense isn't too shabby either. Tommy Tupperville's team has had success running the football all season long. Marching through the SEC without losing a single game is impressive.

Pittsburgh is overmatched. They have a reasonably good defense, and a quarterback in Tyler Palko who can make the big throws. They can put up points, as showcased in their 41-38 victory at Notre Dame. But Pitt also just squeaked by in a number of games. They were fortunate to beat Boston College by 3 in overtime, and they should have lost to West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl at Heinz Field. Pitt was an incorrectly-called completion on third and long away from losing to the Mountaineers. This is a team that lost to Connecticut, who recently joined Division 1-A football, and nearly lost to Division 1-AA Furman.

I am not sold on the Panthers, and the Big East this year. No team in that conference is really that good. And even with something to prove, Pitt has not faced a team or a defense like Auburn. Tigers by 24, in a snoozer.

Auburn 34, Pittsburgh 10

Chad's Take:
Give Pittsburgh credit for getting here. They returned only 10 players from a team that drastically underachieved last year at 8-5. In the spirit of full disclosure, the Big East wasnít dominant before Miami and Va Tech jolted for the ACC and they certainly arenít now. Pitt only finished at 8-3, but I and many others expected very little out of them. Add in the fact that West Virginia allegedly had far and away the best talent, and yet here are the Panthers.

Pitt is dominant at nothing and their defense is average at best. However, Tyler Palko is a gamer. Palko, a sophomore, threw for 23 touchdowns, most of which came as the season progressed and he gained valuable experience. Walt Harris is fine coach, much beleaguered though he may be.

Auburn is the best team in the land with the fewest Weaknesses. They can be defeated, but it would take a Herculean effort. They have two running backs-Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown-that are matched by about only 10 others in the whole country. Quarterback Jason Campbell is a big, strong, senior leader who has really blossomed in his final year. He has a 172 QB rating, has thrown for 2,500 yards, 19 touchdowns and only six interceptions. More importantly, he has only been sacked 11 times, which are big drive-killers. Auburnís defense is simply put a fast, aggressive SEC stop unit. They have given up 269 yards per contest and only 17 touchdowns, and seem to be about as good against the run as the pass.

This game is an impossible match up for Pitt. They wonít be in it from the snap.

Auburn 42, Pittsburgh 13

Winner: #2 Auburn



NCAA Football Tournament 2007
Brackets:
Championship / Final Four
Elite Eight - East / Elite Eight - West
Sweet Sixteen - East / Sweet Sixteen - West

NCAA Football Tournament 2006
Brackets:
Championship / Final Four
Elite Eight - East / Elite Eight - West
Sweet Sixteen - East / Sweet Sixteen - West

NCAA Football Tournament 2005
Brackets:
Championship / Final Four
Elite Eight - East / Elite Eight - West
Sweet Sixteen - East / Sweet Sixteen - West

NCAA Football Tournament 2004
Brackets:
Championship / Final Four
Elite Eight - East / Elite Eight - West
Sweet Sixteen - East / Sweet Sixteen - West

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