Final Four
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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-Auburn will be posted 1:00 Saturday).







#1E Oklahoma (14-0) vs. #2E Auburn (14-0).
Saturday, 1:00 ET

Walt's Take:
The AP has already pulled their poll from the BCS system, stating they never agreed to be part of such a flawed system. I applaud the AP and hopefully the coaches, USA Today and ESPN follow the AP's lead. We are one step closer to an actual playoff.

Many observers who doubt USC would argue that this should be the national championship game and USC is just getting a free ride because they were cheated last year. Now Auburn is getting cheated.

Oklahoma's defense is very suspect. They allowed Texas A&M and Oklahoma State to score 35 points each in very narrow victories. The Aggies and Cowboys were able to rush for 129 and 150 yards, respectively. Furthermore, Texas A&M accumulated 360 passing yards and may have won the game if Reggie McNeal didn't get hurt. Texas and Oregon also moved the chains via the ground game against the Sooners, despite scoring a combined seven points. Auburn's two-pronged rushing attack, comprised of Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown should be able to gain respectable yardage, setting up play-action opportunities for Jason Campbell. This will be another instance where Oklahoma permits more than 30 points to their opponent.

Contrary to the Sooners' stop unit, Auburn did not allow more than 20 points all season, prior to the SEC Championship against Tennessee. The Vols exploited Auburn's rush defense, gaining 228 yards on the ground. Adrian Peterson could have a big day, allowing Jason White to slowly pick apart a secondary that yields just 163 passing yards per contest.

Both teams will control the clock in a mildly high-scoring affair, and this game could even go into overtime. I think Auburn wins because they have a slightly better defense than Oklahoma.

Auburn 34, Oklahoma 31

NCAA Dan's Take:
Oklahoma and Auburn meet in the Final Four. Some people believe this should be the national championship game. One team went undefeated through the SEC (Auburn), and the other ran the table in the Big XII (Oklahoma). Both are tremendous accomplishments, given the competition level in each of those conferences. Both teams are given an extra opportunity to lose a game, as the SEC and Big XII both have championship games in conference, but neither the Tigers nor the Sooners faltered.

This is an interesting matchup between two terrific defenses and two very physical teams. Auburn will pound, pound, pound behind the running of Cadillac Williams. But the Tigers will struggle scoring points. Oklahoma is led by Jason White's arm, and the strong running of Adrian Peterson, racking up more than 1,800 yards and 15 touchdowns en route to an awesome year. Two Heisman candidates on the same offense isn't too shabby, which is what Auburn will be faced with trying to stop. This is a significant upgrade to the players Bob Stoops had on that side of the ball when they beat Florida State in the championship game several years ago. But even with these offensive weapons, Oklahoma will find it difficult to score points on Auburn's defense. This game will be played in a similar fashion that the Oklahoma-Virginia Tech game was played out in the Elite Eight. Look for a low scoring, hard fought battle. I really believe this game could go either way. My gut just tells me this is Auburn's year. This one may take overtime to decide it.

Auburn 16, Oklahoma 13

Chad's Take:
Mike Stoops is a sensational coach-he oozes with passion and takes his job, his profession and his kids very seriously. His team plays fast, aggressive big-time football. They routinely place more explosive athletes and high ranked talent on the field than anyone in the country (ironically this hasnít translated into the NFL). Their college pedigree, however, is unchallenged. This team has so much talent that Antonio Perkins, last year's superstar punt returner is almost an after thought on this team. He has only returned 17 punts but one did go for a touchdown. Oklahoma is nearly unstoppable on offense with last year's Heisman winner Jason White and Adrain Peterson. How much talent do the Sooners have? True freshman Peterson replaced junior Kejuan Jones, who ran for 925 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

Oklahoma's only real weakness is an uncharacteristically weak pass rush and pass defense, will prove fatal with Auburn. I am not an Auburn apologist, yet it has seemed obvious to me for some time that man-for-man, offense-to-defense, they are the most complete team in the country. They have only surrendered 17 touchdowns to the tune of about 11.1 pts per game. And their run-to-pass ratio is outstanding. Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams have had fabulous careers, while Jason Campbell has faced a lot of heat but is now battle tested at quarterback. He has a 172 passer rating and has thrown for 2,511 yards and 19 touchdowns. They will pound the ball up the gut and then play-action down the middle until it changes the complexion of this game.

Auburn 27, Oklahoma 23

Winner: #2E Auburn




#1W USC (14-0) vs. #3W Utah (13-0).
Saturday, 4:30 ET

Walt's Take:
Utah goes for the PAC-10 championship, which they can obtain by beating USC the week after they knocked off California.

As far as I'm concerned, the Trojans received a free pass this year after being cheated out of the Sugar Bowl in 2003. USC's defense is very questionable-especially their pass defense. UCLA tallied 278 passing yards in a narrow 29-24 victory, Oregon State threw for 330 yards in a frightening 28-20 win and California torched the Trojans' secondary for 267 yards in a game the Golden Bears dominated USC. Utah may have one of the greatest aerial attacks in the country, facilitated by Alex Smith, who has accumulated 2,624 yards, 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions this season. Receivers Steve Savoy and Paris Warren will burn the Trojans' secondary all afternoon, setting up draw opportunities for Smith, Marty Johnson and Quinton Ganther, who combined for 1,965 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns this season.

USC will also put up their fair share of points. Matt Leinart, the Heisman winner, has thrown for 2,990 yards, 28 touchdowns and six interceptions this season, and gets support from a stout two-pronged rushing attack, featuring LenDale White and Reggie Bush, who gain 5.2 and 6.1 yards per carry, respectively. Utah surrenders four yards per carry, meaning the Trojans' success on the ground will create play-action opportunities for Leinart.

This game will go back and forth. In fact, the last team to have the ball may win. In my opinion, I feel USC is a bit overrated and Utah may very well be the best team in the country. The Cinderella Utes go to the championship.

Utah 42, USC 38

NCAA Dan's Take:
This contest will be nothing like the Auburn-Oklahoma game played in the East. This game will be anything but low scoring, I expect a classic shootout between these two teams. At the rate these two squads can score, the punters for each of these teams may get the night off.

USC is a scoring machine; Matt Leinart's numbers are stellar, throwing for 28 touchdowns this season on nearly 3,000 yards through the air. He is a smart signal caller with a great offensive line protecting him, and it doesn't hurt that he can hand the ball off to Reggie Bush either. On the other side of the ball, I cannot stress enough how potent Utah's offense is. Alex Smith was in the running for the Heisman-he also threw for 28 touchdowns this season-helping his Utah Utes score points in the bunches against everyone.

This is not a game where one coach will be able to say: "hold these guys in the 20's and we will come out on top." In fact I don't know if either of these teams will be held in the 30's. The over/under is sure to be high in this game, but I would still probably take the over. I look for a very competitive game. Utah is a really good team, nobody would blow these guys out of the water-including USC.

In the end though I like the experience and toughness of USC to prevail. But the way both teams will score points, no lead will be safe-this one will be a nail-biter all the way. In fact it just may end with a hail mary attempt by Alex Smith falling about 2 yards short of a game tying touchdown. The Utes won't lose-they will just run out of clock.

USC 48, Utah 41

Chad's Take:
USC has a lot of talent-Matt Leinhart won the Heisman, Reggie Bush is so fluid and exciting in his movement that he is almost poetic, Lendale White may be the most durable and consistent of the lot, they have seemingly 100 6-4 wideouts that can run and jump with the best of them- but they just donít seem as dominate as they should be. It isnít anything tangible, as their margin of victory was overwhelming.

Here is the rub-a very average Notre Dame team ran threw them like a sieve in the 1st half of their game, UCLA who is more of a dominant running team threw for 278 yards in their 29-24 defeat. I donít know what it is but I see a complete team frustrating USC into a lot of mistakes.

Enter Utah, the complete team. I feel a little ďdirtyĒ like I am only pimping UTAH because I have a BCS agenda. But the truth is they are strong. They will have supreme motivation to beat down USC as they are both out west and many have speculated that the PAC 10 might be Utahís ultimate residence as the college landscape continues to change. Alex Smith also should have won the Heisman trophy that Matt Leinhart is currently clutching. I have watched college football fanatically for some time and I never remember anyone throwing for 28 touchdowns with only four picks, followed by 563 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. This has become such common place that the award goes to the best player on one of the top BCS conference teams that no one even questioned this. Yet if Smith had played for any of the top four teams in the ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, SEC or Pac 10, it would have been a landslide vote for Smith, which flat out stinks.

Utah could be a little stronger on defense than they are, but they will confound USC to the point that I am expecting a mild rout.

Utah 35, USC 17

Winner: #3W Utah



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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