The 2018 FBS Playoff Football Sim

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Purple Stein

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Last year I ran a sim of a 24 team FBS playoff similar to the structure the FCS tournament. The sim had Georgia and Alabama in the final, but it clearly didn't see Tua coming. Georgia won the Sim National Championship 27-13.

This year, the sim is back and aiming to get it right!

Below is this year's bracket. It consists of the top 20 teams in the final CFP poll plus four other automatic qualifiers from their respective conferences (Fresno State, Appalachian State, Northern Illinois, and UAB). Those teams were seeded according to their Massey rankings.

2018_fbssim_seeding.png


If that's too hard to read, here are your first round matchups with the second round opponent in parentheses:

17. Utah @ 16. West Virginia (Alabama)
24. UAB @ 9. Washington (UCF)
20. Syracuse @ 13. Washington State (Oklahoma)
21. Fresno State @ 12. Penn State (Georgia)
18. Mississippi State @ 15. Texas (Clemson)
23. Northern Illinois @ 10. Florida (Michigan)
19. Texas A&M @ 14. Kentucky (Notre Dame)
22. Appalachian State @ 11. LSU (Ohio State)

All games will be simmed at NCAA Game Sim. Home field advantage will be assigned through the quarterfinals, with the semifinals and the championship game taking place at neutral sites. Game sims will be 12/8 (Round 1), 12/15 (Round 2), 12/22 (Quarterfinals), 12/29 (Semifinals) and 1/5 (National Championship coinciding with the FCS national championship game). I'll fill the downtime with some UConn sims to see if anybody can hang 100 on us :(

Now look at these games and tell me this is a tournament you wouldn't want to see!
 

Purple Stein

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First round is in the books!

16. West Virginia 48 17. Utah 0
The 16/17 matchup is supposed to be the closest on the board, but WVU crushed Utah 48-0 behind a 345 yard passing performance from Will Grier. Utah managed only 150 yards of total offense. WVU’s reward is a trip to top-seeded Alabama next week.

9. Washington 41 24. UAB 10
Washington broke open a 6-3 game with a decisive 21-0 third quarter en route to a 41-10 win over 24th seeded UAB, Jake Browning completed 80% of his passes on the day. Washington travels to Orlando next week for an 8/9 battle against UCF.

13. Washington State 48 20. Syracuse 16
Gardner Minshew threw for 493 yards as Washington State demolished the crap that is Syracuse 48-16. Eric Dungey completed just 39% of his passes and both times he was intercepted the Syracuse defense gave up touchdowns on big passing plays. Washington State travels to Oklahoma next week to try to embarrass Bob Diaco.

12. Penn State 28 21. Fresno State 10
Penn State used a decisive fourth quarter to ensure that the first four games of the tournament went according their seeding. Leading just 14-10 at the start of the fourth quarter, Trace McSorley connected on touchdown passes of 8 and 42 yards to put away the Bulldogs. Penn State travels to Georgia next week.

18. Mississippi State 21 15. Texas 13
Mississippi State held Texas scoreless in the second half and overcame an early deficit to beat the Longhorns 21-13, giving this year’s tournament its first “upset.” Nick Fitzgerald threw for 157 yards and ran for additional 161 to pull off the upset in Austin. Last year, the sim heavily favored SEC teams – are we set for a repeat? The Bulldogs travel to second seeded Clemson next week. The Tigers will attempt to avoid being knocked out in the round of 16 for the second straight year.

10. Florida 27 23. N. Illinois 3
Florida overcame 3 interceptions by Feleipe Franks by using a smothering defense to top MAC champion Northern Illinois 27-3. Despite consistently good field position, the Huskies could only manage 3 points on 182 yards of total offense. Florida will have to be sharper on offense next week when they travel to the big house to take on Jim Harbaugh’s 7th ranked Wolverines.

14. Kentucky 24 19. Texas A&M 17
Kentucky raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead and then held on to defeat Texas A&M in a turnover plagued first round game in Lexington. The Aggies comeback came up just short when Kellen Mond was intercepted at the Kentucky 42 late in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats will need a much improved performance to have a chance in South Bend against the third ranked Irish in the second round.

11. LSU 20 22. App State 17
In a game that was much closer than the experts predicted, LSU rallied in the fourth quarter to hold of 22nd seeded Appalachian State by the final score of 20-17. The Mountaineers led by 7 at the half and by field goal after 3, but two fourth quarter field goals by Cole Tracy made the difference for LSU. App State couldn’t push the ball past their own 35 yard line in the fourth quarter.
 

Purple Stein

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And your updated bracket:

Screen Shot 2018-12-09 at 1.47.50 PM.png

Second Round:

16. WVU @ 1. Alabama
9. Washington @ 8. UCF
13. Washington State @ 4. Oklahoma
12. Penn State @ 5. Georgia
18. Mississippi State @ 2. Clemson
10. Florida @ 7. Michigan
14. Kentucky @ 3. Notre Dame
11. LSU @ 6. Ohio State
 

Purple Stein

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As we await our second round matchups, here's a sim of UConn against the last four out:

22. Northwestern 17 UConn 10

Either UConn's defense broke the sim's defense algorithm or the sim absolutely loathes the B1G.

23. Missouri 38 UConn 3
Drew Lock throws for 389 yards and 4 touchdowns.

24. Iowa State 35 UConn 0
Brock Purdy threw for 345 yards and 4 touchdowns, while David Montgomery averaged 10 yards per rush and ran for nearly 200 yards.

25. Boise State 38 UConn 7
Sim says we hold Boise to just 636 yards of total offense (compared to the 818 we actually surrendered).

Long story short, the sim, for whatever reason, can't accept just how bad our defense was (or it sees something in our defense or SOS that was never realized in real life).
 

Purple Stein

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Ask and you shall receive! I simmed all 9 games on neutral sites.

Georgia State 17 UConn 13
Bowling Green 35 UConn 23
UConn 27 Kent State 21
UTSA 20 UConn 10
UConn 27 New Mexico St 9
Texas State 14 UConn 10
South Alabama 35 UConn 0 (ouch)
UConn 31 Rice 16
UConn 17 UTEP 13

So, that's a solid 4-5 against the bottom ten, though the sim CLEARLY doesn't get how bad our defense was.

I ran a similar sim against the Massey bottom 4 a few weeks ago and UConn won the consolation game against Rice to finish second worst in the nation ...
 
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Ask and you shall receive! I simmed all 9 games on neutral sites.

Georgia State 17 UConn 13
Bowling Green 35 UConn 23
UConn 27 Kent State 21
UTSA 20 UConn 10
UConn 27 New Mexico St 9
Texas State 14 UConn 10
South Alabama 35 UConn 0 (ouch)
UConn 31 Rice 16
UConn 17 UTEP 13

So, that's a solid 4-5 against the bottom ten, though the sim CLEARLY doesn't get how bad our defense was.

I ran a similar sim against the Massey bottom 4 a few weeks ago and UConn won the consolation game against Rice to finish second worst in the nation ...
Thanks. I would have thought our offense would have done better as well.
 

Purple Stein

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I'm late with round two! Here we go:

Round Two

1. Alabama 31 16. West Virginia 13
Coming off a 48-0 shutout of Utah, West Virignia was riding high. Alabama showed WVU just what it feels like to be shut down on offense, blowing out the Moutaineers 31-13. Alabama advances to the quarterfinals to take on the winner of Washington and UCF.

9. Washington 21 8. UCF 17
You have to wonder what would have been for UCF had McKenzie Milton been healthy. With Milton out of this second round matchup, the Knights were inconsistent on offense. Miles Gaskin’s 23 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter made the difference. Darriel Mack was intercepted in Washington territory later in the fourth to seal the win, and a visit to Tuscaloosa, for the Huskies. For the second straight year, the American is unable to get out of the second round of the tournament.

4. Oklahoma 35 13. Washington State 24
Kyler Murray threw for 197 yards and 3 touchdowns and Bob Diaco’s linebackers kept Washington State in check in a 35-24 Sooner win. Oklahoma jumped out to a 28-7 lead and then handed the ball to Trey Sermon for most of the second half. Oklahoma now prepares to host the winner of Penn State/Georgia.

12. Penn State 20 5. Georgia 17
The 12/5 game is always one to watch in the NCAA tournament, and Penn State made sure it was one to watch in the FBS sim, too. Miles Sanders’ four yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter made the difference, and Georgia’s last minute drive was halted at midfield. Trace McSorley threw for just 100 yards in the win and Georgia outgained Penn State 335-293 for the game. Penn State will try to keep the magic going at Oklahoma next week.

18. Mississippi St 34 2. Clemson 7
Last year, top seeded Clemson was booted in the round of 16 by 17th seeded LSU. This year, Dabo’s team was the two seed and choked once again in the round of 16, getting its doors blown off by another SEC team. Nick Fitzgerald threw for 117 and ran for another 122 in the win. Joe Moorehead’s squad raced out to a 24-7 hafltime lead and never looked back. They play at the winner of Florida/Michigan next week. Clemson’s loss eliminates the last ACC team from the tournament.

7. Michigan 31 10. Florida 23
Florida jumped out to a 13-0 lead and led all the way until the early fourth quarter. But two fourth quarter touchdown runs by the Wolverines gave Michigan the come from behind 31-23 victory. Karan Higdon ran for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns in the win. Michigan will host a quarterfinal game against another SEC opponent, Mississippi State, next week.

14. Kentucky 24 3. Notre Dame 20
A second top 4 team fails to make it out of the round of 16 as 14th seeded Kentucky upset 3rd seed Notre Dame in South Bend. Kentucky led the entire game, using a diverse ground attack to limit possessions and keep Ian Book off the field. Book threw a late third quarter TD pass to Chris Finke to get Notre Dame within 4, but that would be the last scoring play of the game. Kentucky will play the winner of LSU and Ohio State with a trip to the final four on the line.

11. LSU 27 6. Ohio State 18
Joe Burrows made a triumphant return to Columbus, throwing for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns as LSU upset Ohio State 27-18. The game was a defensive battle through three quarters with the Buckeyes taking a 9-6 lead into the fourth. But Burrows threw all 3 of his touchdowns in the final quarter, including two to Nick Brousette, who also rushed for 77 yards on the afternoon. The LSU win guarantees the SEC a spot in the final four, as the Tigers, as an 11 seed, will host Kentucky in the quarterfinals next week.
 

Purple Stein

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And your updated bracket:

sim_round_tw0.png


Your Quarterfinal matchups to be simmed this weekend:

9. Washington @ 1.Alabama
12. Penn St @ 4. Oklahoma
18. Mississippi St @ 7. Michigan
14. Kentucky @ 11. LSU
 

Purple Stein

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I finally got around to simming the quarterfinals!

Quarterfinals
1. Alabama 41 9. Washington 13

Alabama scored touchdowns on 5 of its 6 first half possessions and took a 35-3 lead into the half en route to a 41-13 rout of Washington in Tuscaloosa. Washington, which made it to the quarterfinals with wins over UAB and UCF, was outmatched from the start. Alabama earns its second consecutive berth in the semifinals and awaits the winner of Oklahoma and Penn State.

12. Penn State 27 4. Oklahoma 23
Kyler Murray was intercepted at his own 25 halfway through the fourth quarter. Two plays later, a 2 yard touchdown run by Trace McSorley broke a 20-20 tie and propelled Penn State into the national semifinals with a 27-23 win over Oklahoma. Penn State is the lowest seed in the two year history of the sim tournament in the final four, and their win puts an end to the Big 12’s chances. Oklahoma outgained Penn State by more than 100 yards in the loss.

7. Michigan 17 18 Mississippi St 9
After wins at Texas and at second seeded Clemson, Mississippi State had its sights on the final four. Michigan had other ideas and used a stifling defense to oust the fighting Moorhead’s by a final score of 17-9. The win is Michigan’s second straight win by 8 at home, and they advance to the final four to play the winner of Kentucky and LSU.

11. LSU 7 14. Kentucky 3
In an epic defensive struggle between LSU and Kentucky, the Tigers prevailed 7-3 on fourth quarter touchdown run by Nick Brossette. LSU dominated the ball and time of possession, outgaining Kentucky 376-242. 3 LSU turnovers could have been the difference, but Kentucky missed 3 field goals. LSU will have to play better next week in their semifinal matchup with Michigan.

The sim thinks the committee got it all wrong. We have a semifinals of:

1. Alabama vs. 12. Penn State
7. Michigan vs. 11. LSU


It's all B1G vs SEC as the sim comes down to the wire!
 
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As we await our second round matchups, here's a sim of UConn against the last four out:

25. Boise State 38 UConn 7
Sim says we hold Boise to just 636 yards of total offense (compared to the 818 we actually surrendered).

Long story short, the sim, for whatever reason, can't accept just how bad our defense was (or it sees something in our defense or SOS that was never realized in real life).
Any chance this game would be cancelled, too? It the was stopped after 5 minutes and just 1 Boise St touchdown, would those defensive numbers help the Huskies' bottom line?
 
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I'm late with round two! Here we go:

Round Two

7. Michigan 31 10. Florida 23
Florida jumped out to a 13-0 lead and led all the way until the early fourth quarter. But two fourth quarter touchdown runs by the Wolverines gave Michigan the come from behind 31-23 victory. Karan Higdon ran for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns in the win. Michigan will host a quarterfinal game against another SEC opponent, Mississippi State, next week.
There simulators and then there is reality. Florida 45 Michigan 15.

Harbaugh is developing a rep in the pro's and college of not being able to win the 'big' game. I wonder how long until Wolverine alumni start to revolt.
 

Purple Stein

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There simulators and then there is reality. Florida 45 Michigan 15.

Harbaugh is developing a rep in the pro's and college of not being able to win the 'big' game. I wonder how long until Wolverine alumni start to revolt.
It's interesting -- the sim playoffs have all rounds up until the semis at campus sites, so in the sim Michigan was playing Florida at Michigan with a full complement of players. But even in the sim, Florida led all game. They dominated the game. Michigan made a late run and pulled it out, and now has found its way to the semis.

Michigan, though, was really terrible toward the end of the season. The sim doesn't take into account those trend lines.

In the end, I don't take the results seriously, It's really about imagining the fun we're missing out on -- even running this sim is more fun than watching the Redbox Bowl.
 

Purple Stein

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I'm still running late! Here's the sim final four (all simmed on neutral sites):

Semifinals

1. Alabama 38 12. Penn State 13
After a sparkling playoff run that included close wins over Fresno State, Georgia, and Oklahoma, Trace McSorley and Penn State finally ran out of gas in the Orange Bowl, falling to Alabama 38-13. Tua completed 75% of his passes for 343 yards and 4 touchdowns in the win, while McSorley was intercepted 3 times by a tenacious Alabama defense that allowed only 333 total yards – ten less than Tua threw for. Alabama advances to the national championship for the second consecutive year having given up just 13 points in all 3 of its playoff games.

11. LSU 20 7. Michigan 10
It will be an all SEC national championship for the second consecutive season as LSU won the Cotton Bowl with a 20-10 triumph over Michigan. In a defensive struggle, Shea Patterson managed only 108 yards in the air and was intercepted 3 times. LSU becomes the first team to advance from the round of 24 to the finals, besting Appalachian State, Ohio State, Kentucky, and Michigan along the way. LSU will play Alabama for the national championship in a rematch of a game they lost 29-0 on November 3rd of real life.

National Championship (to be simmed on Monday):

11. LSU vs 1. Alabama
 

Purple Stein

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It's time for your sim national championship!

LSU vs. Alabama

Paths to the championship game:

11. LSU
Used great defense and followed an easy path:

Round of 24: LSU 20 App State 17
Round of 16: LSU 27 tOSU 18
Round of 8: LSU 7 Kentucky 3
Round of 4: LSU 20 Michigan 10

1. Alabama
Used overwhelming offense and held everyone they played to 13 points:

Round of 24: BYE
Round of 16: Alabama 31 West Virginia 13
Round of 8: Alabama 41 Washington 13
Round of 4: Alabama 38 Penn State 13
 

Purple Stein

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Sim National Championship

1st Quarter
Joseph Bulovas 35 yard field goal Alabama 3 LSU 0
Joe Burrow 3 yard TD pass to Dee Anderson LSU 7 Alabama 3
LSU 7 Alabama 3 (END FIRST QUARTER)


2nd Quarter
Tua Tagovailoa 1 yard TD pass to Hale Hentges Alabama 10 LSU 7
Alabama 10 LSU 7 (Halftime)


3rd Quarter
No Scoring
Alabama 10 LSU 7 (END THIRD QUARTER)

4th Quarter
Nick Brossette 1 yard TD run LSU 14 Alabama 10
END GAME


11. LSU 14 1. Alabama 10
In an epic upset, eleventh seeded LSU won the 2018 sim national championship 14-10 over top-ranked Alabama. It's the second consecutive year that Alabama has been the runner up for the Purple Stein Cup. LSU held Tua to just 116 yards passing and outgained the Crimson Tide by more than 100 yards. Joseph Bulovas missed 3 field goals for Alabama, sinking the previously undefeated Tide. Nick Brossette ran for 85 yards in the LSU win.

"No one likes finishing second all the time," Sim Nick Saban said. "I'm going to go coach at UConn where I'll never finish second again."
 
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Exit 4

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Stein, is this a real sim or a an elaborate dice game you play out in an all night bender?
 
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Do everyone a favor, and forget your simulations, you were so far off it is funny.
 

Stainmaster

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Do everyone a favor, and forget your simulations, you were so far off it is funny.
I don't think he was trying to predict the actual results or line his simulation up with them. Who pissed in your Cheerios?
 

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