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What if? A look back at the BCS era if a four-team playoff was in effect

by Jason Kersey Published: June 26, 2012
Sam Bradford and Oklahoma were ranked No. 4 in the final BCS standings of 2007. Using the BCS standings as seeds, if there was a four-team playoff that year, OU would have faced No. 1 Ohio state in the semifinals. AP PHOTO
Sam Bradford and Oklahoma were ranked No. 4 in the final BCS standings of 2007. Using the BCS standings as seeds, if there was a four-team playoff that year, OU would have faced No. 1 Ohio state in the semifinals. AP PHOTO

Under the proposal approved by university presidents Tuesday, a selection committee will choose four teams for a college football playoff.

It’s impossible to predict how a committee would’ve voted, but the BCS standings are a good enough measure to look at the past.

Here’s how the new four-team playoff system would’ve looked in the BCS era, with seeds determined by the final BCS standings.

1998

* No. 1 Tennessee (12-0) vs. No. 4 Ohio State (10-1)

* No. 2 Florida State (11-1) vs. No. 3 Kansas State (11-1)

How it actually went down: Tennessee beat Florida State 23-16 to win the first BCS championship.

1999

* No. 1 Florida State (11-0) vs. No. 4 Alabama (10-2)

* No. 2 Virginia Tech (11-0) vs. No. 3 Nebraska  (11-1)

How it actually went down: Chris Weinke and Florida State beat Michael Vick and Virginia Tech 46-29 in the Sugar Bowl for the championship.

2000

* No. 1 Oklahoma (12-0) vs. No. 4 Washington (10-1)

* No. 2 Florida State (11-1) vs. No. 3 Miami (10-1)

How it actually went down: Oklahoma’s defense shut down Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke and Florida State for a 13-2 victory in the Orange Bowl, claiming the Sooners’ seventh national title. Miami, which beat Florida State during the regular season and Washington, which beat Miami, each claimed they belonged in the national title game against the Sooners and won BCS bowls.

2001

* No. 1 Miami (11-0) vs. No. 4 Oregon (10-1)

* No. 2 Nebraska (11-1) vs. No. 3 Colorado (10-2)

How it actually went down: Miami beat Nebraska in the Rose Bowl for the national championship, and Oregon topped Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl. The year was controversial because Colorado beat Nebraska and went on to win the Big 12 championship, making the Huskers the first non-conference champion to play for the title.

2002

* No. 1 Miami (12-0) vs. No. 4 USC (10-2)

* No. 2 Ohio State (13-0) vs. No. 3 Georgia (12-1)

How it actually went down: Ohio State beat Miami 31-24 in double overtime at the Fiesta Bowl to win the national championship.

2003

* No. 1 Oklahoma (12-1) vs. No. 4 Michigan (10-2)

* No. 2 LSU (12-1) vs. No. 3 USC (11-1)

How it actually went down: Oklahoma was declared the greatest college football team ever by some, but was blown away 35-7 by Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game. The Sooners remained the top-ranked team in the final BCS standings, however, and lost to No. 2 LSU 21-14 in the national title game. USC handled Michigan 28-14 in the Rose Bowl to give us our only split national title — so far — of the BCS era.

2004

* No. 1 USC (12-0) vs. No. 4 Texas (10-1)

* No. 2 Oklahoma (12-0) vs. No. 3 Auburn (12-0)

How it actually went down: USC massacred OU 55-19 in the Orange Bowl, leaving little doubt about its worthiness of the national championship. However, Auburn slipped by No. 8 Virginia Tech 16-13 in the Sugar Bowl, leaving the Tigers unbeaten but without a chance to be national champions.

2005

* No. 1 USC (12-0) vs. No. 4 Ohio State (9-2)

* No. 2 Texas (12-0) vs. No. 3 Penn State (10-1)

How it actually went down: Vince Young led Texas to a stunning 41-38 win over USC in the Rose Bowl to give the Longhorns the national championship. Ohio State beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, and Penn State topped Florida State in three overtimes in the Orange Bowl.

2006

* No. 1 Ohio State (12-0) vs. No. 4 LSU (10-2)

* No. 2 Florida (12-1) vs. No. 3 Michigan (11-1)

How it actually went down: Until 2011, this was the closest the BCS had come to a title-game rematch, with many thinking Michigan deserved a spot in the national championship tilt over Florida. However, Florida stomped Ohio State 41-14 in the first BCS National Championship Game that wasn’t officially another bowl game, and Michigan lost 32-18 to USC in the Rose Bowl.

2007

* No. 1 Ohio State (11-1) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (11-2)

* No. 2 LSU (11-2) vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech (11-2)

How it actually went down: West Virginia, which was No. 2 until a shocking loss to Pittsburgh in the final game of the regular season, smoked Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Virginia Tech lost to Kansas in the Orange Bowl, and LSU beat Ohio State 38-24 to win the title and become the only BCS-era team to be champion with two losses.

2008

* No. 1 Oklahoma (12-1) vs. No. 4 Alabama (12-1)

* No. 2 Florida (12-1) vs. No. 3 Texas (11-1)

How it actually went down: Texas, which beat OU, lost out in a three-way tie for the Big 12 South championship, giving the Sooners a spot in the title game. Florida beat previously perfect Alabama in the SEC title game. The Gators beat OU 24-14 in the title tilt, and unbeaten mid-major Utah took a three-touchdown lead on its way to beating Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl. Texas held on for a 24-21 win over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

2009

* No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. No. 4 TCU (12-0)

* No. 2 Texas (13-0) vs. No. 3 Cincinnati (12-0)

How it actually went down: Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy was injured and Alabama beat Texas 37-21 in the title game. Florida rolled by Cincinnati 51-24 in the Sugar Bowl, and TCU lost 17-10 to fellow unbeaten Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.

2010

* No. 1 Auburn (13-0) vs. No. 4 Stanford (11-1)

* No. 2 Oregon (12-0) vs. No. 3 TCU (12-0)

How it actually went down: Auburn beat Oregon 22-19 on a last-second field goal to win the national championship. Stanford rolled Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, and TCU snuck by Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl to complete an unbeaten season.

2011

* No. 1 LSU (13-0) vs. No. 4 Stanford (11-1)

* No. 2 Alabama (11-1) vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State (11-1)

How it actually went down: Alabama shut LSU down in the national championship game rematch, winning 21-0 and becoming the first BCS champion to not have won its conference. LSU beat the Crimson Tide 9-6 during the regular season. Oklahoma State, the Big 12 champion, beat Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl, 41-38 in overtime.

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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