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College football dream tournament, Day 5: USC’s really, really, really bad day

Meanwhile, MARYLAND FACTS. And those ridiculous 1990 Buffs.

USC v Boston College Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

We have advanced through the first two rounds of our 128-team tournament of national champions.

Now we move on to the round of 32. We’ll run half of the matchups today, half tomorrow. And to review once more, here’s how the winners are determined.

1. We’re going to pit national champions from the last 128 years against each other. In the many instances in which more than one team claims a title from a given year, I’ll use Estimated S&P+ to determine the participant — the highest-rated team gets in.

2. We’ll break them up into four ‘regions’ based on the year. Teams from 1889-1920 go in one region, from 1921-52 in another, from 1953-84 in another, and 1985-2016 in another.

3. Within each ‘region,’ we’ll seed the teams based on Estimated S&P+.

4. To simulate each game, we’ll determine win probability based on each team’s Estimated S&P+ rating, then use a random number generator to determine the winner.

In other words: No, these are not “picks,” and no, these are not my own opinions. Sorry if your team lost. It’s not personal.

1899-1920 Region

  • (1) 1902 Michigan (win prob: 62.9%) def. (9) 1892 Yale
  • (13) 1917 Georgia Tech (win prob: 41.8%) def. (5) 1920 California

This was the matchup I was hoping for: Fielding Yost’s best Michigan team against John Heisman’s best Georgia Tech team.

1921-52 Region

  • (11) 1924 Notre Dame (win prob: 38.8%) def. (3) 1931 USC
  • (7) 1943 Notre Dame (win prob: 36.8%) def. (2) 1932 USC

I guess this means Notre Dame wins the Forever Rivalry: Teams that weren’t either Knute Rockne’s nor Frank Leahy’s best each upset maybe the two best USC teams ever. Ouch.

1953-84 Region

  • (1) 1971 Nebraska (win prob: 56.3%) def. (8) 1972 USC

Bad day all around for the Trojans. Sheesh.

  • (13) 1953 Maryland (win prob: 64.2%) def. (28) 1984 BYU

The Dark Horses section of the bracket sees a Terps team reaching the Round of 16. Jim Tatum’s best team. Actually, while we’re here...

For fun: Three things about 1953 Maryland.

  1. The Terps' best player was tackle Stan Jones, a unanimous All-American selection and future College and Pro Football Hall of Famer. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and helped to lead the Chicago Bears to the 1963 NFL title.
  2. This was an excellent team, but Maryland benefited from timing. AP national champions were determined before the bowls, so the Terps' 7-0 loss to No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl didn't cost them. Still, they finished the season by crushing ranked Ole Miss and Alabama teams by a combined 59-0. This was a tremendous squad.
  3. Jim Tatum is one of the more underrated coaches in college football history. The UNC grad learned the Split-T from Don Faurot during World War II and took over as Oklahoma head coach in 1946. He moved back east after one year, leaving assistant Bud Wilkinson in charge in Norman. That worked out well. Meanwhile, at Maryland, Tatum went 73-15-4 in nine seasons, finishing in the top 10 four times between 1951-55.

In 1956, Tatum took over a rebuild at his alma mater, and after a 2-7-1 debut, he went 6-4 in 1957 and 1958. But at the age of 46, he died of something related to typhus in the summer of 1959. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984.

The more you know...

1985-2016 Region

  • (30) 1990 Colorado (win prob: 29.5%) def. (6) 2012 Alabama

Good lord. These damn Buffaloes cannot be stopped. The Buffs had a 29% chance of beating 1995 Nebraska in the first round and did so. 41% chance of beating 1997 Nebraska in the second? No problem. 30% chance of beating Nick Saban’s Tide in the third? Done and done. The random number generator loves Boulder. Guess I can’t blame it.

  • (2) 2005 Texas (win prob: 67.1%) def. (23) 1985 Oklahoma

Meanwhile, the dream dies for my first favorite team. Vince Young and company do just enough damage against Tony Casillas, Brian Bosworth, and the OU defense to get the job done. Can they stop Bill McCartney’s Buffs?