Elite Eight - East
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What is this?
Since NCAA Football desperately needs a playoff, why not create one? Sixteen teams were chosen (11 conference winners and five at-large bids) and placed into brackets. Dan Biggio, Sim Lucien and I will take a look at each game and decide who we think will win the game. The team that moves on to the next round will be the team that gets two votes to win out of the three predictions. The predictions for each game will be posted during the time listed for each contest (i.e. Georgia-West Virginia will be posted 12:00 Friday).






#1 Texas (12-0) vs. #4 Georgia (10-2).
Friday, 7:00 ET

Walt's Take:
I want to know why people think Texas is so special. The Longhorns barely beat the Buckeyes, who did not have Troy Smith for the entire game. They struggled with Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, two very poor teams. In fact, the entire Big XII was a disgrace this season.

Taking Smith's absence into account, Georgia will be the best team Texas meets all year. The Bulldogs will easily run the ball with Thomas Brown and Danny Ware against a unit that surrendered more than 250 yards on the ground to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. D.J. Shockley will take advantage of his effective ground attack by utilizing play-action, torching the Longhorns' secondary.

Texas will obviously match Georgia point for point. Vince Young was second in Heisman balloting for a reason; the Longhorns signal caller is the most dangerous player at his position because can run the ball as effectively as he throws it. With Bulldogs defenders keyed in on Young, running back Jamaal Charles should eclipse the 150-yard plateau.

Both squads are about equal, but I give an edge to Georgia because it survived a tougher schedule to reach this point. Meanwhile, Texas has been beating up on the Colorados and the Baylors of the college-football world.

Georgia 41, Texas 37.

NCAA Dan's Take:
By now people are aware of how good the Longhorns are. They can score pretty much at will. The Georgia Bulldogs may not have quite the horses on offense that Texas does, however do bear in mind that Georgia was consistently playing against better competition than Texas all season long. I believe the Bulldogs are a more battle tested team than Texas. The Big 12 as a conference was the worst it has been in a long time, so Texas really was not challenged by any of those teams. The offensive numbers might not look quite as outstanding had Texas played against the likes of LSU, Alabama or Auburn -- all pretty solid defensive clubs.

I really believe Georgia is a good enough team to make this a competitive game that stays in the 20s. In fact, I look for a very similar type game as the Ohio State and Texas game early on in the year. Georgia will be in this game and have a chance to win late, but the Longhorns come up with a late score to squeak out a win in the final minute of play. This will be a great game to watch, and will feature top notch QB play from D.J. Shockley of Georgia and Vince Young of Texas. In the end Texas will have just a little too much firepower.

Texas 27, Georgia 24.

Sim's Take:
Georgia is no stranger to athletic, physical, and talented defenses having one of there own and playing in the SEC. With that being said, Texas will be the best defense they have seen this season. The Longhorns are very good against the pass. They do it all: get pressure, cover well, and get interceptions. They are even better against the run. The Bulldogs have a very physical running game that will be neutralized by the speed and power of Texas. DJ Shockley will have to step up big. The good news for Georgia is that Shockley is a great leader and Texas struggled against a mobile quarterback when they played arch rival Texas A&M. The bad news is Shockley may not be 100 percent after sustaining a leg injury that kept him out of some key games late this season.

In the end, the Longhorns have more offense than the Bulldogs have defense to stop it and I really canít think of too many teams that can hang with Texas in a shootout, especially with quarterback Vince Young taking out his frustrations of not winning the Heisman out on Georgia.

Texas 40, Georgia 23.

Winner: #1 Texas




#2 Penn State (10-1) vs. #3 Ohio State (9-2).
Saturday, 1:00 ET

Walt's Take:
Predicting this series is simple -- the home team usually wins. In fact, the host is 9-1 since 1996. But, who would win on a neutral field? In my opinion, this is the best game of the tournament because both teams are extremely similar. They both have athletic quarterbacks who can fire the ball downfield, very gifted and fast wide receivers and the top defenses in the country. When Penn State and Ohio State clashed on Oct. 8, neither team was able to move the chains on a consistent basis. The Buckeyes were restricted to just 91 rushing yards, while Michael Robinson passed for just 78. The Nittany Lions were able to win because the White Out crowd was able to rally them to victory. Penn State won't have that in its favor this time around.

However, the Nittany Lions should still be able to triumph. They have a superior running game and their secondary is better than Ohio State's. Plus, I trust Robinson in a come-back situation over Troy Smith. The Penn State senior already had clutch fourth-quarter scoring drives at Northwestern and Michigan.

The Nittany Lions lost to the Wolverines on a last-second Chad Henne pass to Mario Manningham. This time around, Smith will have the ball with one second left. He'll throw a laser to Santonio Holmes in the end zone, only to have it intercepted by Alan Zemaitis.

Penn State 13, Ohio State 9.

NCAA Dan's Take:
This blockbuster matchup between perennial Big Ten powers will live up to and exceed every bit of hype surrounding it. Get your VCR ready, TIVO or whatever preferred means of taping this game -- this is my Game of the Week. Anyone who watched the 2005 showdown between the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes in Happy Valley was treated to one whale of a college football game. What I took out of that contest is two nearly evenly matched teams. Both Penn State and Ohio State feature terrific, senior-laden defenses that are a couple of the best in the nation. Both teams feature athletic QBs, capable of making the big play with their legs as well as throwing the ball. Both teams like to and are able to run the football effectively. Penn State and Ohio State are both battle-tested teams, making it through the minefield that is the Big Ten schedule with 7-1 conference records. Both teams are well coached. Add to the mix that these two teams have a tremendous history of playing each other in recent years and a bit of an in-conference rivalry. Now you have got yourself a football game!

So who has the edge? In their contest in 2005, it seemed at times like Penn State could have delivered a knockout punch in the second half, but a combination of conservative play calling and terrific Buckeye defense did not allow this to happen. When it looked as if the Nittany Lions may be in position to go up by two scores, the Buckeyes defense would make a play and force the Nittany Lions into a third-and-long. This time around, look for both teams -- and particularly defenses -- to be at their very best. I expect a similar type game as the first one this year -- a tough, hard-fought, low-scoring, defensive struggle. I think this game will take an overtime frame to decide. Look for Penn State to kick a field goal in extra time, and the Nittany Lion defense to force the Buckeyes to lose yardage on their only possession of the overtime frame. A 45-yard field goal sails just wide right and Penn State wins a thriller.

ESPN Instant Classic.

Penn State 16, Ohio State 13.

Sim's Take:
The Rematch. Some people think the Buckeyes are the best two-loss team in the NCAA and deserving of their at large BCS bid. Some people also think Gwen Stefani and Madonna are talented singer/dancers. I know beating a team twice in the same college football season is next to impossible, but if Texas can crush Colorado even worse the second time they played; Penn State can actually beat down The Ohio State.

Penn State will thrash the Buckeyes, but Hawk does have some consolation -- heís a lock for a Top 5 draft selection in April and he is dating Brady Quinnís sister.

Penn State 44, Ohio State 13.

Winner: #2 Penn State



NCAA Football Tournament 2007
Brackets:
Championship / Final Four
Elite Eight - East / Elite Eight - West
Sweet Sixteen - East / Sweet Sixteen - West

NCAA Football Tournament 2006
Brackets:
Championship / Final Four
Elite Eight - East / Elite Eight - West
Sweet Sixteen - East / Sweet Sixteen - West

NCAA Football Tournament 2005
Brackets:
Championship / Final Four
Elite Eight - East / Elite Eight - West
Sweet Sixteen - East / Sweet Sixteen - West

NCAA Football Tournament 2004
Brackets:
Championship / Final Four
Elite Eight - East / Elite Eight - West
Sweet Sixteen - East / Sweet Sixteen - West

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