Ohio State Buckeyes, UCLA in BCS College Football Playoff: What If, 1998 Version

Revolting FanContributor IDecember 6, 2010

Do things work out differently with Michael Bishop and KSU in the tournament?
Do things work out differently with Michael Bishop and KSU in the tournament?Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Yesterday, we took a look at what the postseason of 2010 might look like with a six-team playoff to settle things.  In the coming weeks, we'll take a look at the final regular season rankings of all seasons in the BCS (1998-present), and how a postseason tournament might have unfolded each year.

First, a recap on the rules:

  • All FBS conference champions are eligible, top six qualify
  • Top six conference champs seeded in order by the final BCS rankings
  • Conferences determine their representative as they see fit
  • Top two conference champs receive a first-round bye
  • Five championship series games are played at the current four BCS bowl sites  
  • Remainder of bowls operate as is, independent of the championship playoff

Looking back twelve years, many people forget the BCS was created to match No. 1 vs. No. 2 in a bowl game—not because there was difficulty determining who No. 1 and No. 2 actually were.

In 1990, (Georgia Tech and Colorado), 1991 (Miami and Washington), 1994 (Penn State and Nebraska), 1996 (Florida State and Arizona State) and 1997 (Michigan and Nebraska), No. 1 and No. 2 were unable to play due to conference alliances with bowl games.  And you kids think things are ridiculous now.

The first year of the BCS as we know it was largely controversy free as it concerns the championship game participants: Tennessee and Florida State.  Tennessee was the only major program to complete the regular season undefeated.  Tulane was 11-0, but there was still an overwhelming bias towards non-traditional teams cracking the top 10.

Florida State lost a September game to North Carolina State and made it back to the No. 2 spot largely due to attrition.  UCLA cruised through its regular season, and was firmly entrenched ahead of Kansas State, but on the same day as the Big 12 championship game, fell 49-45 to post-probation Miami in the rescheduled “Hurricane Bowl” and lost their shot at the national championship.

Kansas State had its own shot to take on Tennessee but fell in dramatic fashion to Texas A&M during overtime of the Big 12 championship game.  No one watching on TV will ever forget the clip of the KSU fan section spread word of UCLA’s loss to Miami from the one guy with a portable television to the entire stadium.  Remember, very few people even had cell phones way back then, let alone phones with instantaneous sports info.

And that’s how Tee Martin and the Peyton Manning-less Tennessee Volunteers faced Florida State for the trophy.  How would Revolting Fan’s six-team playoff have shaken out that year?  Let’s take a look:

(seed/team/conference/BCS ranking, pre-bowl/overall record, pre-bowl)

  1. Tennessee (SEC, 1st, 12-0)
  2. Florida State (ACC, 2nd, 11-1)
  3. Ohio State (Big 10, 4th, 10-1)
  4. UCLA (Pac 10, 5th, 10-1)
  5. Texas A&M (Big 12, 6th, 11-3)
  6. Tulane (C-USA, 10th, 11-0)

Top conference champs left out: Syracuse (Big East, 15th, 8-3)

Revolting Fan prediction: Ohio State over Tulane.  UCLA over Texas A&M.  Tennessee over Ohio State.  Florida State over UCLA.  Tennessee over Florida State.

Other observations: The first year of the tournament also brings the first non-traditional party crasher in Tulane.  UCLA drops from No. 2—and loses the vitally important first-round bye—to No. 4 after losing to Miami.  KSU in turn drops from the likely No. 2 seed and a first-round bye to completely out of the bracket after falling to Texas A&M in overtime.  Wisconsin’s only loss is to conference champ Ohio State, underscoring the importance of every game in the regular season.

Click here for 1998.

Click here for 1999.

Click here for 2010.