PROTEST PLAYOFF '04: Selection Sunday (on Monday/Tuesday)

It's time to enter the dark desert, fellow K-Statriots. While the next five weeks will probably give us some of our most interesting playoff results yet (and certainly the most timely ones), they will also carry with them the melancholic knowledge that K-State was busy going to just one bowl in those five seasons, and generally making an ass out of itself by hiring Ron "Scary Smart" Prince.

If you can set that aside, though, there are some interesting things to be learned here. 2004 carried even more controversy than 2003, if that is even possible. Where 2003 featured an intractable argument between 1-loss teams LSU, Oklahoma and USC, 2004 saw the Sooners and the Trojans run the table, while undefeated Auburn took the place of their division rival.

The BCS was left with an impossible decision, and compounding the difficulty of that choice was the fact that Boise State and Utah went unbeaten, as well. Anyhow, for the second straight year, an Oklahoma team that looked invincible August through November got the nod to play for the championship, and for the second straight year, said Oklahoma team got embarrassed after Dec. 1.

Utah received the consolation of beating down possibly the worst BCS conference champion in modern football history (a Pittsburgh team that won a four-way tie for the honor of serving as the Utes' whipping boy in the Fiesta Bowl), but Auburn had to settle for beating Virginia Tech and no share of the AP championship, unlike USC the year before.

Boise State lost, though, and USC's 55-19 win over Oklahoma seemed emphatic enough for the establishment, so everyone congratulated themselves on a job well fudged.

Curious to see how it actually all should have played out, had Auburn, Boise State and Utah been given the fair chance that they rightfully deserved? Then hit the jump to see the 2004 Protest Playoff field...

The undefeated status of Boise State and Utah means that the 2004 field has the toughest crop of "mid-majors" I have yet seeded. In fact, seeds 1-13 are all 0-, 1- or 2-loss teams. That's simply insane. Even the weak Big East champion, Pittsburgh, was 8-3.

To challenge the five unbeatens, playoff veterans Louisville, Michigan, Toledo, North Texas and Virginia Tech are all back as conference champions. Throw in experienced at-larges like Iowa, LSU and Texas, and you're looking at a pretty stacked field. Makes you almost feel sorry for playoff virgin Cal, doesn't it?

Going off a straight seeding procedure yields the following:

  1. USC
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Auburn
  4. Texas
  5. Cal
  6. Utah
  7. Georgia
  8. Virginia Tech
  9. Boise State
  10. Louisville
  11. LSU
  12. Iowa
  13. Michigan
  14. Pittsburgh
  15. Toledo
  16. North Texas

The top four seeds are fine, but Cal cannot be the No. 5 seed because that would place the Golden Bears on the same half of the bracket as conference rival USC, so I swapped them with Utah (who was probably more deserving of a 5 seed, anyway).

Likewise, swapping Georgia and Virginia Tech gets the Bulldogs out of Auburn's half of the bracket and similarly removes the Hokies from USC's side (the Trojans beat the Hokies at FedEx Field to open the 2004 season).

Lower-half match-ups were determined predominantly by helmet compatibility. This resulted in Boise being under-seeded by three spots, but created a fascinating 1st round game with fellow unbeaten Utah. Louisville and LSU also took a hit because of this.

Iowa and Michigan probably benefited the most, followed by Toledo. The important thing to remember, though, is that lower seeds are not predicted to win in the 1st round because they have to go on the road, so who they end up playing or where precisely they fall on the bracket is less important as a result.

 

2004: The Field

No. 1 seed USC Trojans (12-0; BCS #1): Pac-10 Champion (automatic bid)
3rd consecutive playoff appearance
- 2002: 3rd round elimination
- 2003: 2nd round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #8 Virginia Tech, BCS #5 Cal, BCS #19 Arizona State
Losses: none
Head Coach: Pete Carroll (3-2 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Favor Run

Quarterback: Matt Leinart
Running Backs: LenDale White and Reggie Bush
Wide Receivers: Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith
Tight End: Dominique Byrd

 

No. 2 seed Oklahoma Sooners (12-0; BCS #2): Big 12 Champion (automatic bid)
4th playoff appearance
3rd consecutive playoff appearance
- 2000: 4th round elimination
- 2002: National Champion
- 2003: 3rd round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #4 Texas, BCS #24 Oklahoma State, BCS #20 Texas A&M
Losses: none
Head Coach: Bob Stoops (9-2 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Favor Run

Quarterback: Jason White
Running Backs: Adrian Peterson and Kejuan Jones
Wide Receivers: Mark Clayton and Travis Wilson
Tight End: James Moses

 

No. 3 seed Auburn Tigers (12-0; BCS #3): SEC Champion (automatic bid)
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: BCS #11 LSU, BCS #15 Tennessee (x2), BCS #7 Georgia
Losses: none
Head Coach: Tommy Tuberville
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Jason Campbell
Running Backs: Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown
Wide Receivers: Courtney Taylor and Ben Obamanu
Tight End: Cooper Wallace

 

No. 4 seed Texas Longhorns (10-1; BCS #4): at-large bid
4th consecutive playoff appearance
- 2001: 4th round elimination
- 2002: 1st round elimination
- 2003: 2nd round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #22 Texas Tech, BCS #24 Oklahoma State, BCS #20 Texas A&M
Losses: BCS #2 Oklahoma
Head Coach: Mack Brown (4-3 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Vince Young
Running Backs: Cedric Benson and Will Matthews
Wide Receivers: Tony Jeffery and Limas Sweed
Tight End: Bo Scaife

 

No. 5 seed Utah Utes (11-0; BCS #6): Mountain West Champion (automatic bid)
3rd playoff appearance
2nd consecutive playoff appearance
- 1999: 1st round elimination
- 2003: 1st round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #20 Texas A&M
Losses: none
Head Coach: Urban Meyer (0-1 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Alex Smith
Running Backs: Marty Johnson and Quinton Ganther
Wide Receivers: Paris Warren and Steve Savoy
Tight End: Blake Burdette

 

No. 6 seed Cal Golden Bears (10-1; BCS #5): at-large bid
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: BCS #19 Arizona State
Losses: BCS #1 USC
Head Coach: Jeff Tedford
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers
Running Backs: J.J. Arrington and Marshawn Lynch
Wide Receivers: Geoff McArthur and Robert Jordan
Tight End: Garrett Cross

 

No. 7 seed Virginia Tech Hokies (10-2; BCS #8): ACC Champion (automatic bid)
3rd playoff appearance
- 1999: 4th round elimination
- 2000: 3rd round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #14 Miami
Losses: BCS #1 USC, NC State
Head Coach: Frank Beamer (5-2 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Bryan Randall
Running Backs: Mike Imoh and Cedric Humes
Wide Receivers: Eddie Royal and Josh Hyman
Tight End: Jeff King

 

No. 8 seed Georgia Bulldogs (9-5; BCS #7): at-large bid
3rd consecutive playoff appearance
- 2002: 2nd round elimination
- 2003: 1st round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #11 LSU, BCS #23 Florida
Losses: BCS #15 Tennessee, BCS #3 Auburn
Head Coach: Mark Richt (1-2 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Favor Run

Quarterback: David Greene
Running Backs: Thomas Brown and Danny Ware
Wide Receivers: Reggie Brown and Fred Gibson
Tight End: Leonard Pope

 

No. 9 seed Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2; BCS #12): Big Ten Co-Champion (at-large bid)
2nd playoff appearance
- 2002: 1st round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #25 Ohio State, BCS #17 Wisconsin
Losses: BCS #19 Arizona State, BCS #13 Michigan
Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz (0-1 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Favor Run

Quarterback: Drew Tate
Running Backs: Sam Brownlee and Jermelle Lewis
Wide Receivers: Ed Hinkel and Clinton Solomon
Tight End: Scott Chandler

 

No. 10 seed Michigan Wolverines (9-2; BCS #13): Big Ten Co-Champion (automatic bid)
3rd playoff appearance
2nd consecutive playoff appearance
- 1999: 2nd round elimination
- 2003: 1st round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #12 Iowa
Losses: Notre Dame, BCS #25 Ohio State
Head Coach: Lloyd Carr (1-2 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Favor Run

Quarterback: Chad Henne
Running Backs: Mike Hart and Jerome Jackson
Wide Receivers: Braylon Edwards and Jason Avant
Tight End: Tim Massaquoi

 

No. 11 seed Louisville Cardinals (10-1; BCS #10): C-USA Champion (automatic bid)
3rd playoff appearance
- 2000: 2nd round elimination
- 2001: 1st round elimination

Notable Wins: none
Losses: BCS #14 Miami
Head Coach: Bobby Petrino
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Stefan LeFors
Running Backs: Eric Shelton and Michael Bush
Wide Receivers: J.R. Russell and Montrell Jones
Tight End: Gary Barnidge

 

No. 12 seed Boise State Broncos (11-0; BCS #9): WAC Champion (automatic bid)
5th playoff appearance
3rd consecutive playoff appearance
- 1999: 1st round elimination
- 2000: 1st round elimination
- 2002: 2nd round elimination
- 2003: National Champion

Notable Wins: none
Losses: none
Head Coach: Dan Hawkins (5-1 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Jared Zabransky
Running Backs: Lee Marks and Antwaun Carter
Wide Receivers: T.J. Acree and Drisan James
Tight End: Derek Schouman

 

No. 13 seed LSU Tigers (9-2; BCS #11): at-large bid
3rd playoff appearance
2nd consecutive playoff appearance
- 2001: 1st round elimination
- 2003: 4th round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #23 Florida
Losses: BCS #3 Auburn, BCS #7 Georgia
Head Coach: Nick Saban (4-3 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Marcus Randall
Running Backs: Alley Broussard and Joseph Addai
Wide Receivers: Craig Davis and Dwayne Bowe
Tight End: David Jones

 

No. 14 seed Toledo Rockets (9-3; Sagarin #83*): MAC Champion (automatic bid)
2nd playoff appearance
- 2001: 2nd round elimination

Notable Wins: none
Losses: Minnesota, Kansas, Miami University
Head Coach: Tom Amstutz (1-1 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Favor Run

Quarterback: Bruce Gradkowski
Running Backs: Scooter McDougle and Quinton Broussard
Wide Receivers: Lance Moore and Steve Odom
Tight End: Chris Holmes

 

No. 15 seed Pittsburgh Panthers (8-3; BCS #21): Big East Co-Champion (automatic bid)
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: none
Losses: Nebraska, Connecticut, Syracuse
Head Coach: Walt Harris
Offensive Style: Balanced

Quarterback: Tyler Palko
Running Backs: Raymond Kirkley and Tim Murphy
Wide Receivers: Greg Lee and Joe DelSardo
Tight End: Erik Gill

 

No. 16 seed North Texas Mean Green (7-4; Sagarin #102*): Sun Belt Champion (automatic bid)
4th consecutive playoff appearance
- 2001: 1st round elimination
- 2002: 1st round elimination
- 2003: 1st round elimination

Notable Wins: none
Losses: BCS #4 Texas, Florida Atlantic, Colorado, Baylor
Head Coach: Darrell Dickey (0-3 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Scott Hall
Running Backs: Jamario Thomas and Kevin Moore
Wide Receivers: Johnny Quinn and Zach Muzzy
Tight End: Andy Blount

 

*BCS rankings only went from #1-25 from 2003-present, so I used Sagarin rankings to help seed all teams not listed in the BCS Top 25.

 

2004: What Really Happened

I've already covered the major controversy of 2004, so I'll just recap the bowl outcomes briefly:

As previously mentioned (and almost impossible to forget), USC routed Oklahoma 55-19 in the Orange Bowl to claim its second consecutive AP national championship and its first BCS national championship.

Auburn's consolation prize was beating Virginia Tech 16-13 in a Sugar Bowl snooze-fest.

Mack Brown cried more than Jeff Tedford, and thus Texas got a chance to upend Michigan 38-37 in a Rose Bowl instant classic that introduced the world to Vince Young and set the stage for the Longhorns' title run in 2005, which culminated on the very same field.

Tedford proceeded to make himself look stupid for crying about not getting in the BCS, when he coached his team to an embarrassing 31-45 loss to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.

Utah destroyed Pittsburgh, the weakest BCS conference champion ever, 35-7 in the Fiesta Bowl, and should have advanced to play Auburn, if this stupid system made any sense.

Georgia beat Wisconsin 24-21 in the Outback Bowl. No bloomin' onions were harmed in the making of said bowl.

Boise State stubbed its toe and ended its perfect season with a 40-44 loss to Louisville in the Liberty Bowl.

LSU lost to Iowa 25-30 on a last-second Hail Mary pass in the Capital One Bowl, becoming the first team in modern history to win a BCS national championship one year and lose a non-BCS bowl game the subsequent year. Apparently the shame was so great that Nick Saban felt compelled to go coach the hapless Miami Dolphins for a few putrid seasons.

Toledo lost ugly to Connecticut in the Motor City Bowl, 10-39.

North Texas lost the New Orleans Bowl to Southern Miss, 10-31.

Wikipedia's 2004 season summary

 

Tomorrow's Games

#16 North Texas @ #1 USC
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Los Angeles, Calif.

#13 LSU @ #4 Texas
Texas Memorial Stadium
Austin, Texas

#12 Boise State @ #5 Utah
Rice-Eccles Stadium
Salt Lake City, Utah

#9 Iowa @ #8 Georgia
Sanford Stadium
Athens, Ga.

 

BracketCat's Protest Playoff Archives

1998: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Fiesta | Data | Encore

1999: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Sugar | Data | Encore

2000: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Orange | Data | Encore

2001: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Rose | Data

2002: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Fiesta | Data

2003: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Sugar | Data

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