Sweet 16 - East
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What is this?
Since NCAA Football desperately needs a playoff, why not create one? Sixteen teams were chosen (11 conference winners and five at-large bids) and placed into brackets. Dan Biggio, Sim Lucien 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. Georgia-West Virginia will be posted 12:00 Friday).






#1 Texas (12-0) vs. #8 Arkansas State (6-5).
Friday, 3:30 ET

Walt's Take:
Arkansas State is in this tournament because the team won the Sun Belt. Arkansas State will be out of the tournament around 7 p.m. because the team is playing Texas.

Texas 84, Arkansas State 0.

NCAA Dan's Take:
Two words: Vince Young. Almost any other year in college football and the junior QB would be a sure bet for the Heisman. He is a force to be reckoned with and ASU will find that out the hard way, much like every other team in the Big 12 this year. The Longhorns went undefeated in '05, and a date with Arkansas State will not do anything to jeopoardize this standing. Texas averaged more than 50 points a game this season, and it may go over 50 in this contest. Mack Brown's team is on a roll, and will roll into the second round with a blowout.

Texas 56, Arkansas State 17.

Sim's Take:
Texas is fresh off of a day-after-Thanksgiving scare against archrival Texas A&M and a 70-3 torching of Colorado for the Big XII Championship. Head coach Mack Brown has been called “Mr. February” for consistently signing Top 5 recruiting classes. That talent has translated to more success than people give the Longhorns credit. They have won at least nine games every year of Brown’s tenure. They also are the highest-scoring team in the country averaging over 49 points per game in the regular season. They have scored 40 points or more in every game this season except at Ohio State. This defense has five players on either first or second team All-Conference list including first-round selections at every position group.

Arkansas State has neither the talent, coaching, experience, size, athleticism, nor depth to even hope to challenge Texas even if the game was on PS2.

Texas 66, Arkansas State 3.

Winner: #1 Texas




#4 Georgia (10-2) vs. #5 West Virginia (10-1).
Friday, 12:00 ET

Walt's Take:
Penn State isn't the only team that should have a gripe with the BCS this year. If D.J. Shockley didn't get hurt, the Bulldogs would have probably beaten Florida and Auburn. We could have been looking at three undefeated teams -- and another nightmare for the BCS.

West Virginia was 10-1 this season, but they played an extremely easy schedule. In fact, the only two quality squads the Mountaineers faced were Louisville and Virginia Tech. West Virginia won the former, but they were slaughtered by the Hokies, who gained 214 rushing yards on Oct. 1. Georgia will expose West Virginia. Remember, the Bulldogs are coming from a tough SEC, where they faced tough defenses almost every week. Georgia will stampede through the Mountaineers' front seven, setting up play-action opportunities for Shockley.

The Bulldogs will put the clamps on West Virginia's one-dimensional, running offense. I'll take the SEC over the Big East.

Georgia 34, West Virginia 10.

NCAA Dan's Take:
Difficult draw for the Big East Champion Mountaineers in this game. Georgia lost two games all season, by a total of five points. Only a 14-10 loss to archrival Florida and a one-point loss to the Auburn Tigers stood between Georgia and an undefeated season. Both losses came after QB D.J. Shockley went down to injury as well. The Bulldogs under Mark Richt typically are a physical team that can run the ball and play defense. This Georgia team is no different. This is a defense that has allowed just over 14 points a game.

The Bulldogs are matched up against a West Virginia team that has a great running attack and lost only one game this year. In fact, the Mountaineers averaged a whopping 262 yards a game on the ground, and only 115 through the air. Do not expect West Virginia to rack up anywhere close to their seasonal average on the ground. Georgia's defense is far better than the likes of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and South Florida. Playing in the SEC makes Georgia a much more battle tested team as well.

Georgia 27, West Virginia 13.

Sim's Take:
The Bulldogs snuck under the radar after losing to Florida while quarterback D.J. Shockley was injured. Without Shockley, this is a mediocre team with a solid defense. With him, they can hang with the best the game has to offer. Head coach Mark Richt has done an incredible job of getting his team on top in the very tough SEC East.

The Mountaineers have finally lived up to the hype and promise they have had for so many years. However, it must be noted that they finally won the Big Least outright once Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College had left. The 10-1 record is also not as impressive as it seems because some of those wins were Wofford, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Rutgers, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh.

Due to damage to the New Orleans Super Dome during Hurricane Katrina, the Sugar Bowl, which will actually match these teams up, will be played in Atlanta, making this effective a home game for the Bulldogs. That atmosphere combined with Georgia’s experience, talent, and defense will be more than enough to overwhelm a WVU team that is probably just happy to be in a BCS game.

Georgia 38, West Virginia 13.

Winner: #4 Georgia




#3 Ohio State (9-2) vs. #6 Florida State (8-4).
Saturday, 12:00 ET

Walt's Take:
Was anyone else shocked that Florida State somehow beat Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship? I knew that the Hokies were perennial chokers, but the Seminoles just aren't any good.

Florida State was blown out in consecutive games against Clemson and Florida prior to the conference championship. In those two contests, they surrendered a total of 480 passing yards. Troy Smith will cause further embarrassment to the Seminoles' defense by shredding the unit with Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn Jr. The dynamic passing game will open up a decent Buckeyes rushing attack.

I don't trust Drew Weatherford. Can you blame me? He has no running game -- the Seminoles have not gained more than 3.2 yards per carry in a single contest since Oct. 29 -- and he will be asked to beat Ohio State. The Buckeyes have one of the top defenses in the country. This will be a blowout.

Ohio State 35, Florida State 7.

NCAA Dan's Take:
Big Ten powerhouse vs. the ACC Champion Seminoles. Speaking of battle-tested teams, look no further than the Ohio State Buckeyes. This is the best two-loss team in college football. Ohio State also lost two very tough games this season: an October matchup in Happy Valley by a mark of 17-10 and an early-season showdown against Texas, 25-22. Lost in the shuffle of this season is that the Buckeyes actually outplayed Texas on that September evening in Columbus, even without its QB, Troy Smith. Its battle against Penn State was worthy of an Instant Classic, and the Buckeyes went into the Big House and beat a very hot Michigan team in a 25-21 thriller on Nov. 19.

Ohio State's defense matches up favorably with just about any team in the country. If you have not seen LB A.J. Hawk yet, pay attention to this game. He is a special player. On the other hand, Florida State stumbled upon a playoff berth this year. The Seminoles struggled to a four-loss season, including getting blown out by the rival Gators in Gainesville. However, Bobby Bowden's team is riding a wave of momentum right now, having beaten Virginia Tech to earn the right to be ACC Champions. Bowden's teams usually play well in the postseason as well. Florida State is averaging 29 points per game, but will fall far short of that in this contest. The Buckeyes defense will be the fastest and most athletic Florida State has seen all year. The Buckeyes will not put on an offensive clinic either, but will do enough to beat FSU.

Ohio State 20, Florida State 7.

Sim's Take:
Ohio State entered the 2005 season with overwhelming hype and failed to live up to it several times. In retrospect, the 25-22 loss to Texas was a bit of a moral victory for containing such a high-powered team. However, the 17-10 lost to Penn State exposed this team as overrated in every aspect of their game. The defense is not impenetrable, despite what they would like to think. Linebacker AJ Hawk is a great player, but he is not Super Man and can’t do everything himself. His linebacking sidekicks Anthony Schlegel and Bobby Carpenter get more attention than they deserve and the defensive line lacks any real standout. The secondary has been know to rely more on athleticism than technique and got handled by Penn State’s freshman wide receivers who had more speed. This offense is more one-dimensional than most think. Quarterback Troy Smith carries this team. Antonio Pittman has been successful because Smith is more of a threat and he has a good offensive line. Santonio Holmes is as dangerous a wide receiver as he is a return man and he blocks. Teddy Ginn Jr., however, has shown that his breakout freshman season was all hype and that he is little more than a 40 time and a name. Poor routes, dropped passes and bad decisions in the return game have exposed him as a fraud.

Florida State has seen the nose bleed-inducing highs, rock-bottom lows, and sweet middles of the game this season and managed to look lost at points. Losing focus has become a major problem for this team. Opening the season with wins over Miami and Boston College were good. Ending the season with losses to NC State, Clemson, and Florida were awful. Stunning Virginia Tech to the win the ACC was a step toward redemption of a season with so much promise. The ‘Noles have as a good a running back duo as anyone, an improving young quarterback, developing receivers, and one of the best linebackers in the game.

When it comes down to it, Bobby Bowden doesn’t have 350-plus wins for nothing. He is a better coach and has a more talented team than Jim Tressel and that will play out in this match up.

Florida State 31, Ohio State 21

Winner: #3 Ohio State




#2 Penn State (10-1) vs. #7 Akron (7-5).
Saturday, 3:30 ET

Walt's Take:
Akron needed a miraculous touchdown pass to beat Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship. To defeat Penn State, the Zips will need about 50 miracles.

By the way, the Nittany Lions were robbed in the real bowls. How is it justifiable that the No. 3 team in the country plays No. 22 in the Orange Bowl? Like Joe Paterno said, the BCS is not a "bowl championship series;" it's a "bowl championship game." Penn State should be playing Ohio State or Notre Dame.

Penn State 45, Akron 14.

NCAA Dan's Take:
This one is a no brainer. The Akron Zips are coming off a respectable 7-5 season in the MAC. Luke Getsy engineered an offense that averaged 23 points a game, and he threw for 3,000 yards this season. But Akron is in over their head against the Nittany Lions. This is the best and most complete Penn State team since the undefeated '94 team that went 13-0 and defeated Oregon in the Rose Bowl. The Nittany Lions were a couple of extra seconds and controversial finish in Ann Arbor away from a perfect 11-0 season and 8-0 Big Ten mark. Joe Paterno's team is the real deal this year. The Nittany Lions have a whole host of seniors on defense, and an efficient offense led by QB Michael Robinson. Even the SI cover jinx cannot stop the Nittany Lions here.

Penn State 41, Akron 6.

Sim's Take:
This past offseason Penn State addressed a glaring hole on it roster: SPEED. Head coach Joe Paterno finally broke his no-freshmen-starter rule and got great results. This defense has been playing at a high level for the past two seasons and is loaded with veteran talent. Quarterback Michael Robinson is a dual threat with great leadership, but at times doesn’t take care of the ball.

Akron is a middle of the road MAC team.

The Lions roll in the rematch from the 2004 season.

Penn State 45, Akron 6.

Winner: #2 Penn State



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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