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College football dream tournament, Day 1: 1984 BYU pulls a first-round upset!

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A recent favorite goes down as well. CHAOS REIGNS (not really).

SMU v BYU

So let’s review: To kill time between now when my book comes out on March 7, I’m simulating a 128-team tournament of national champions. The ground rules:

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.

Let’s get started! We’ll run half of each region today and half tomorrow. Close your eyes and imagine the Dream Season-style highlight reels for each game, especially the Yale vs. Yale, Notre Dame vs. Notre Dame, and USC vs. USC games.

1899-1920 Region

  • (1) 1902 Michigan (win prob: 87.0%) def. (32) 1889 Princeton
  • (17) 1913 Auburn (win prob: 50.0%) def. (16) 1905 Yale
  • (8) 1891 Yale (win prob: 61.2%) def. (25) 1895 Yale
  • (9) 1892 Yale (win prob: 58.8%) def. (24) 1901 Michigan

I was going to say this was a bad outing for Yale, with two losses. Of course, Yale also had two wins. Two Walter Camp teams advance.

  • (5) 1920 Cal (win prob: 72.3%) def. (28) 1907 Yale
  • (21) 1915 Cornell (win prob: 44.3%) def. (12) 1896 Princeton
  • (4) 1900 Yale (win prob: 73.1%) def. (29) 1910 Harvard
  • (13) 1917 Georgia Tech (win prob: 55.7%) def. (20) 1906 Princeton

The underrated 1917 Georgia Tech Engineers advance, and we get our first slight upset, a win by Albert Sharpe’s Cornell Big Red over 1896 Princeton. (Fun fact: Sharpe was also Cornell’s basketball and baseball coach. The more you know.)

1921-52 Region

  • (6) 1944 Army (win prob: 68.9%) def. (27) 1921 California
  • (11) 1924 Notre Dame (win prob: 56.1%) def. (22) 1933 Michigan
  • (3) 1931 USC (win prob: 74.5%) def. (30) 1941 Minnesota
  • (19) 1951 Tennessee (win prob: 46.6%) def. (14) 1922 California

The Four Horsemen advance, as does Bob Neyland’s last great Tennessee team. Bad outing for early-1920s Cal.

  • (7) 1943 Notre Dame (win prob: 63.9%) def. (26) 1947 Notre Dame
  • (23) 1940 Minnesota (win prob: 42.8%) def. (10) 1925 Alabama
  • (2) 1932 USC (win prob: 82.1%) def. (31) 1942 Ohio State
  • (18) 1927 Georgia (win prob: 47.9%) def. (15) 1929 USC

Just about everybody in this tournament was awesome, so even a 23-over-10 upset is only so much of an upset. Regardless, the first Rose Bowl champion from the South (1925 Alabama) falls, but 1927 UGA picks up the slack.

1953-84 Region

  • (1) 1971 Nebraska (win prob: 85.9%) def. (32) 1980 Georgia
  • (16) 1981 Clemson (win prob: 50.8%) def. (17) 1979 Alabama
  • (8) 1972 USC (win prob: 69.8%) def. (25) 1962 USC
  • (9) 1982 Penn State (win prob: 61.5%) def. (24) 1983 Miami

Chalk! Bob Devaney’s best team, John McKay’s best team, and maybe Joe Paterno’s best team all advance.

  • (28) 1984 BYU (win prob: 23.8%) def. (5) 1977 Notre Dame
  • (12) 1954 Ohio State (win prob: 57.6%) def. (21) 1958 LSU
  • (4) 1974 Oklahoma (win prob: 77.5%) def. (29) 1957 Auburn
  • (13) 1953 Maryland (win prob: 57.2%) def. (20) 1956 Oklahoma

Our first big upset! And it’s a really big one! Robbie Bosco and BYU take down Joe Montana and Notre Dame. A win for mid-majors everywhere.

1985-2016 Region

  • (6) 2012 Alabama (win prob: 64.1%) def. (27) 1986 Penn State
  • (22) 2007 LSU (win prob: 41.9%) def. (11) 2015 Alabama
  • (30) 1990 Colorado (win prob: 28.8%) def. (3) 1995 Nebraska
  • (19) 1997 Nebraska (win prob: 44.9%) def. (14) 2016 Clemson

Our second big upset! Eric Bieniemy, Darian Hagan, and the Colorado team that probably shouldn’t have won the national title (fifth down fifth down fifth down) win another game they probably shouldn’t! A recent Best Team Ever? candidate falls. Meanwhile, another Nebraska team advances.

  • (7) 2001 Miami (win prob: 63.5%) def. (26) 2006 Florida
  • (23) 1985 Oklahoma (win prob: 40.1%) def. (10) 2011 Alabama
  • (2) 2005 Texas (win prob: 74.8%) def. (31) 1998 Tennessee
  • (18) 2003 LSU (win prob: 46.0%) def. (15) 1988 Notre Dame

Saban-led champions go 2-2 in this draw, with another one on deck tomorrow. Most notably, the 2011 Bama squad falls to Jamelle Holieway and company.