No. 8 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Notre Dame: The regional final in the South brings Iowa State down to Atlanta to take on the highly motivated Notre Dame squad. Brian Kelly will have his team aware of what happened to a similarly talented Oklahoma State team late last year against the Cyclones.
Thus, the upset will not happen again. A good run ends for Iowa State right here as the Irish roll to a 17-point win.
No. 1 Michigan State vs. No. 7 Florida: Will Muschamp had a chance to knock off one Big Ten team in the Gator Bowl and took full advantage. But the Buckeyes opened the door with bad special teams play and bad offense, while the Spartans will have a better offense and solid special teams. In addition, the Spartans will lock down the struggling Gators offense.
Michigan State wins by 10.
No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Florida State: This could be the Rose Bowl revisited, as Wisconsin will go toe-to-toe with another solid team with playmakers on offense and defense.
Oregon had more speed on defense than Florida State, and that came into play late in stopping the Wisconsin comeback. In this game, Montee Ball will have his way and the pace will be wherever Wisconsin wants it to be.
However, the Seminoles will do just enough to slow the Badgers passing offense, getting just enough opportunities for their own offense to win the game. Florida State wins by three.
No. 9 Alabama vs. No. 10 Purdue: A shocking mismatch here as Alabama is the only top-tier national championship contender in the NCAA basketball tournament field, while Purdue is probably only the third- or fourth-best team in a six-team division.
Danny Hope will enjoy the ride that brought him to the Midwest Region final, but the good times and the easy draw ends in a heartbeat.
The Crimson Tide will roll easier against the Boilermakers than against the Wolverines, which will be a nice break before the important final games. Alabama wins by 28.
No. 7 Notre Dame vs. No. 1 Michigan State: When the going gets tough, the defenses step up and make it tougher. That is what will happen in this slugfest of two top-25 teams and top defensive units. Which offense will make more mistakes? Michigan State can rely on Le'Veon Bell to hold the ball, but eventually they will have to pass.
And when they do, the Notre Dame defense will be all over whichever first year quarterback takes over for Kirk Cousins. Notre Dame wins by seven.
No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 9 Alabama: The country will be riveted to see this battle of top 10 teams playing for the right to advance to the national championship game. Both teams have all the talent in the world, although Alabama is playing with more young talent while Florida State has slightly more experience, especially on defense.
Alabama will be ready to defend the title, but this is just a bit too soon for the nine new defensive starters to reload and stop a team like Florida State. Jimbo Fisher will have all of Seminoles nation behind him as he knocks off Nick Saban for a chance at the championship.
Florida State wins by four.
No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 7 Notre Dame: A quick rematch of a great bowl game from 2011 will decide the national championship. Both teams are many years removed from glory days, although it has been a lot longer for Notre Dame since being on this stage. Brian Kelly and Jimbo Fisher will each try to prove themselves as the coaches of the future, with trick plays and bold maneuvers throughout the contest.
Notre Dame will find some openings early, but Florida State's talented defense will adjust and have the Irish shut down in the second half. That will give the Seminoles all the opportunity in the world to make a comeback and put the game out of reach with two fourth quarter touchdowns. Another late game disappointment brings the Irish back to earth and propels Florida State back to the promised land.
Florida State wins by 13.
Thanks for reading, and if this simulation comes anywhere close to the results in the basketball tournament, then perhaps I should start picking my brackets based on football results. Until next time, enjoy the basketball madness and spring football!