2013 College Football Playoff: December Madness

Results from the 2013 College Football Playoff Simulation

1
4
Florida St.
Michigan St.
34
21
2
3
Auburn
Alabama
28
31
1
3
Florida St.
Alabama
38
31
Florida St.

The new college football four-team playoff begins next year. But what if the College Football Playoff started this season? We tweaked our December Madness playoff bracket to focus on the top four teams in the country. Florida State faced Michigan State in one semifinal, while Auburn and Alabama met in the other. Tab over to Scenarios 2 and 3 to see a playoff featuring Stanford or Baylor. Our awarding-winning college football simulation engine that accurately predicted nearly 80 percent of all 2013 FBS games "played" each match-up 1,001 times and advanced the winner.

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Team Logo
Team Logo
1
3
Florida St.
Alabama
38
31
Semi-final One: No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Florida State
The Seminoles win 77 percent of the time by an average score of 34-21.

We can hear "Sparty Nation" screaming at their computers in unison. But before you pick up your tridents and pitchforks, hear us out.

It's true, Michigan State's defense is tops in the nation at 248 yards allowed per game and fourth in scoring defense at 12.7 PAPG. However, when Florida State played Clemson on the road earlier this season, the Tigers boasted a 10th-ranked scoring defense, that allowed 14-or-fewer points in five out of its first six games, before the Seminoles lit it up for 51 points. Some would agree that FSU's offense is more explosive than an Ohio State squad that scored 24 points against the Spartans in the Big Ten Championship. So, the simulation engine's average score of 34-21 is quite fair when you factor in the team and player stats it's analyzing.

Semi-final Two: No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 3 Alabama
The Crimson Tide win 60 percent of the time by an average score of 31-28

WhatIfSports.com's simulation engine gave Alabama a 72.8 percent chance of beating Auburn the first time these two teams met. Why? One heavily weighted statistical trend was blown out of the water.

Alabama's fourth-ranked rush defense that allowed 91.2 rush yards per game heading into the match-up got shredded for 296 yards. It also didn't help that the Tide's two kickers missed a combined four field goals that night.

If not for Chris Davis' remarkable return, who knows what would have happened in overtime. What we do know is that in the rematch, the simulation engine does account for Auburn's ability to successfully run the ball against Alabama's tough defense.

Championship: No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 1 Florida State
The Seminoles win 51.2 percent of the time by an average score of 37-31

The top two scoring defenses in the country could not slow each other down as offense took center stage under the bright lights of the Rose Bowl.

Championship Game Recap

Like its fellow acronym TNT, the BCS...it knows drama.

It took Florida State two quarters, but they managed to erase a 14-point deficit. Two minutes later, Devonta Freeman ripped off a 52-yard touchdown to hand the Seminoles their first lead of the game.

The rest of regulation was back and forth, but leave it to Alabama kicker Cade Foster, a goat to some, to boot a clutch field goal with under a minute to go. This time, however, it was the Tide's defense that let them down in crunch time.

Jameis Winston's offense moved into field goal range in less than a minute on a six-play drive that covered nearly 70 yards, capped off by a Roberto Aguayo field goal that sent the game into overtime.

It only took two plays for Winston to hook up with Kenny Shaw for the go-ahead score. Alabama worked the ball down to the 10 yard line, but an offensive holding call on second and goal pushed the Tide back to the 20. A.J. McCarron, with his lovely lady watching from the stands, couldn't find an end zone target on the next three plays.

The Seminoles survive in overtime, 38-31, to win our 2013-14 December Madness college football playoff simulation.

Player of the game: Jameis Winston (340 passing yards, 2 TD, 2 INT)

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Florida State 51.2% - Alabama 48.8%

Average Score of 1,001 Simulations: Florida State 36.9 - Alabama 30.5
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