Carolina March is hosting a college football playoffs, since the real thing remains out of reach. Whether you agree with his particular version of the playoffs or not, the spirit's in the right place. I've been asked to help simulate the playoffs and drew (3) Southern California versus (6) Oklahoma for my first assignment. So, who wins?
(3) Southern Cal versus (6) Oklahoma
This is a pretty interesting matchup, really. Both teams play solid defense overall, but excel at rushing defense. Three important notes:
*It's hard to imagine either school earning more than 100-120 yards rushing. That means quarterback play and special teams have added emphasis.
*USC's offense has been a little bit stagnant this season, thanks in large part - if you believe the USC folks - to offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's limitations.
*Oklahoma's two losses this season - to Oregon and Texas - were the result of allowing big plays in the passing game. That, and cheating referees.
Given that, I like USC to win this matchup. Whatever Kiffin's weaknesses, Booty to Jarett is pretty hard to screw up, and I'm not sure Oklahoma's got the secondary to keep the Trojans off the board. And I -do- think USC has the run defense to keep Oklahoma from doing what it likes to do.
Remember the last time these teams squared off? Adrian Peterson was never able to get anything going, and Jason White was flustered into bad decisions all game long. I'd expect much of the same, if not more, this time around. Paul Thompson, who's done an admirable job managing the Sooners' games this season, isn't the kind of quarterback that's likely to excel against this Trojan defense.
Add it all up, and I'd expect a low-scoring affair that USC wins 6 or 7 times out of 10. The higher seed advances. USC 20 Oklahoma 13.