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A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

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2011 Selection Saturday: Full Bracket

Cutting the bracket down to 32 teams – after going with a 68-team tournament last fall – leaves several talented teams in the cold. Among the B.C.S. conferences: Missouri, Texas, N.C. State and Auburn. Among the non-B.C.S. conferences: Ohio, Louisiana-Lafayette, Toledo and Wyoming. But trimming the list creates a very strong 32-team bracket, one with very few easy pairings outside the first round. Imagine the possibilities: Oregon hosting Virginia in the first round; a week later, if all goes according to plan, the Ducks meet T.C.U. in the round of 16. U.S.C. isn’t eligible, but if the Trojans weren’t under a postseason ban, they’d probably slot in as a three seed.

A quick rundown of the ground rules: records are from the end of the regular season; conference champions earn an automatic bid; the higher seeds host in the first round; beginning with the second round, all games are at a neutral site; there is no conference limit; and there are no play-in games. Now, the bracket.

East
8 Arkansas State at 1 Alabama
5 Oklahoma at 4 Southern Mississippi
6 Baylor at 3 Houston
7 Notre Dame at 2 Arkansas

Midwest
8 B.Y.U. at 1 Oklahoma State
5 Clemson at 4 Georgia
6 Northern Illinois at 3 Michigan
7 Nebraska at 2 Stanford

South
8 Louisiana Tech at 1 L.S.U.
5 West Virginia at 4 Kansas State
6 Florida State at 3 Michigan State
7 Penn State at 2 Boise State

West
8 Virginia at 1 Oregon
5 South Carolina at 4 T.C.U.
6 Cincinnati at 3 Virginia Tech
7 Georgia Tech at 2 Wisconsin

In the East bracket, the second round games will be played in Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field – Temple’s home field. The South bracket will move onto Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando. The Midwest will play in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The West bracket will play its second round in San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium.

As noted earlier, the national semifinals and national final will be played in the Rose Bowl. That’s a perfect venue for the final two games of the F.B.S. tournament; it’s also due to be one of the rotating sites when – or if, I guess – the N.C.A.A. does adopt the four-team playoff first suggested by the Big Ten.

Which region hosts the toughest bracket? The East seems to be the deepest: Alabama and Arkansas lead, but Oklahoma and Baylor would be a tough out in the second round should either advance. The West is also strong, especially with South Carolina the best No. 5 seed in the tournament.

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Comments

  1. Matt Rob says:

    I wish WVU and Clemson’s places were swapped. It would be sweet to see WVU potentially face Georgia, Okie State, and Stanford.

    Still, Kansas State, LSU rematch, and Boise is a pretty nice slate too.

    Why don’t we have a playoff again?

  2. Josh H. says:

    Here are what my first round predictions would be. In each case, after my predicted winner, I give how close of a game I think it could be with the possibility of an upset.

    East
    8 Arkansas State at 1 Alabama – Alabama….low chance of upset
    5 Oklahoma at 4 Southern Mississippi – Oklahoma…very high upset chance
    6 Baylor at 3 Houston – Houston….very high upset chance
    7 Notre Dame at 2 Arkansas – Arkansas…moderate chance of upset

    Midwest
    8 B.Y.U. at 1 Oklahoma State – Oklahoma St…low chance of upset
    5 Clemson at 4 Georgia – Clemson…very high chance of upset
    6 Northern Illinois at 3 Michigan – Michigan…moderate chance of upset
    7 Nebraska at 2 Stanford – Stanford…low chance of upset

    South
    8 Louisiana Tech at 1 L.S.U. – LSU….very low chance of upset
    5 West Virginia at 4 Kansas State – KSU….moderate chance of upset
    6 Florida State at 3 Michigan State – MSU….moderate chance of upset
    7 Penn State at 2 Boise State – BSU….low chance of upset

    West
    8 Virginia at 1 Oregon – Oregon….low chance of upset
    5 South Carolina at 4 T.C.U. – TCU…moderate chance of upset
    6 Cincinnati at 3 Virginia Tech – VT….moderate chance of upset
    7 Georgia Tech at 2 Wisconsin – Wisconsin…low chance of upset

  3. Lawrence says:

    oh man… we can dream right, Paul? I’m not a supporter of a CFB playoff of more than 8 teams but I’d be lying if I said that bracket wouldn’t be insanely entertaining.

  4. This would be fun, but… So many crappy teams involved! You could cut out 4 to 8 teams easily.

    Also, I take issue with some of the seedings: Baylor a 6, behind Oklahoma? USM behind the Houston team they just beat? And both of those pairs in the same region?

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