Thursday, January 01, 2009

Pretend NCAA Division I Playoffs, Semifinals: USC vs. OU

With visions of the 2005 Orange Bowl still fresh on our minds the Oklahoma Sooners and the USC Trojans are set to face off in our pretend playoffs. Oklahoma got here by knocking off the 8th seeded Penn State Nittany Lions while the Trojans went through #4 Alabama. The last time we saw these two teams on the field together it was all USC as the Trojans punished OU in a 55-19 blowout to claim the BCS Championship. In our perfect world of pretend things might be a little different had the teams met in a real playoff game in 2008.

Oklahoma would capitalize on a huge first quarter sparked by a 79-yard punt return to take a 10-0 lead at the end of one. DeMarco Murray would cap an 84-yard drive in the second quarter with a two-yard plunge to give the Sooners a 17-0 lead going into the half.

When Juaquin Iglesias hauled in a 13 yard touchdown strike from Sam Bradford at the 4:21 mark of the 3rd quarter it appeared that Oklahoma was heading for a route in Miami with the Sooners well in control 24-0. However, that is when things began to click for the Trojans and then come undone for the Sooners. First, Ronald Johnson would score on a 12-yard pass from Mark Sanchez to get USC on the board. Then Stafon Johnson would break free for a 55-yard run early in the 4th to make it a 24-14 game. David Buehler would add a field goal close to the six minute mark to bring the Trojans within a touchdown. After holding OU to a three-and-out on the ensuing possession USC was in position to complete the comeback.

After fielding the punt on their own 41 Sanchez completed four passes in a row to bring the ball to the Oklahoma 2. On the next play Stafon Johnson carried the ball into the end zone to tie the score at 24-24 and ultimately put the game into overtime with USC now having all the momentum.

The Trojans won the coin toss and put their defense on the field first against an Oklahoma offensive unit that hadn’t produced anything since the early minutes of the third quarter. After coming up with a stop on 3rd and 4 from their own 19 the Trojans saw OU kick a field goal to end their overtime possession and regain the lead 27-24. Next the unthinkable happened. After two running plays set the Trojans up with a 1st and goal at the Oklahoma 6 Mark Sanchez made a crucial mistake by misfiring the ball into the hands of Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis and ending what has been the greatest game of our pretend playoffs.

Oklahoma: 27
USC: 24

Oklahoma Offensive Stats

Sam Bradford – 18/28, 154 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
Chris Brown – 17 carries, 173 yards
DeMarco Murray – 16 carries, 56 yards, 1 touchdown
Manuel Johnson - 3 receptions, 56 yards
Juaquin Iglesias – 5 receptions, 36 yards, 1 touchdown

USC Offensive Stats
Mark Sanchez – 26/45, 327 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions
Stafon Johnson – 16 carries, 129 yards, 2 touchdowns
C.J. Gable – 10 carries, 41 yards
Ronald Johnson – 6 receptions, 75 yards, 1 touchdown
David Ausberry – 5 receptions, 78 yards
*Game simulated by What if

That’s how we see it going down. What about you?

The Other Semifinal
#3 Texas vs. #2 Florida – At the Rose Bowl

Consolation BCS Bowls
Sugar Bowl - #4 Alabama 17, #8 Penn State 14
Fiesta Bowl - #6 Utah vs. #7 Texas Tech