This weekend, we saw a series of thrilling games that winnowed down college basketball’s tournament field from sixteen to four — the remaining hopefuls, the “Final” four, if you will (I just coined that term) are Texas Tech, Michigan State, Virginia and Auburn.
Of course, as a college football blog, we got to thinking — what if this “final” four were football? What would it look like if this was the College Football Playoff field? Let’s take a serious and thoughtful look at this tantalizing what-if.
[shimmery fade in]
RECE DAVIS: We’re live in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the College Football Playoff - this is College Gameday. We’ve got a heck of a Final Four ahead of us, don’t you think, coach?
LEE CORSO: I really like these teams, Rece. And let me tell you what — they might not be the teams people expected coming into the season, but each and every one of them deserves to be here today.
KIRK HERBSTREIT: why are we doing this outside in Minnesota
CORSO: You’ve got Virginia, Texas Tech, Michigan State and Auburn.
HERBSTREIT: I’m cold
DAVIS: Let’s look at the field and how they got here. Michigan State surprised some people this year.
CORSO: I’ll tell you what, they surprised some people, but not me. The thing is, when you’ve got a coach like Mark Dantonio, he’s gonna have you in it every year. This is a team with playoff experience — they’ve been there before, and they know how to get back there.
HERBSTREIT: Their defense really gelled this year, and we saw a surprising All-Big Ten performance from senior QB Brian Lewerke.
DAVIS: And, of course, Columbus, Ann Arbor and State College were incinerated by the robots.
CORSO: Opened up a path for them in the Big Ten East, but you still have to credit them for seizing the opportunity.
DAVIS: Then we’ve got Texas Tech.
HERBSTREIT: Great rebound season for them under a new head coach — Kliff Kingsbury always had things clicking on offense in Lubbock, but they never put it together as a fully-rounded team. Matt Wells came in from Utah State and turned a run-and-gun novelty team into a playoff team on both sides of the field.
CORSO: People always said the remote location of Lubbock worked against Tech when it came to recruiting, but it’s been a huge advantage to them this year. Far away from the burning craters that once were cities in East and North Texas, and they’re really able to see the robots coming across those desolate plains.
DAVIS: You’ve really got to value that these days. Now, Virginia — I’m gonna be honest with you guys, even under the new rules since the robot wars began, this team surprised me. They hadn’t been able to put it all together for a real challenge. The Coastal Division’s wide-open every year, and you’d think they could make a run at it, but —
HERBSTREIT: With most of the eastern seaboard destroyed, you’re surprised they’re even still around.
CORSO: Everything from Miami to Boston and hundreds of miles inland crushed under the feet of the robot armies. Really opened up the conference for a team willing to seize on it.
DAVIS: Charlottesville remained the sole untouched outpost east of the Appalachians, protected by their secret weapon.
CORSO: Robots can’t stand Dave Matthews’ music. And I just think that’s a testament to the staying power of that band. I love ‘em, Des.
DESMOND HOWARD: [has not spoken the entire time, is oddly still, eyes are glowing red]
HERBSTREIT: Of course, Pittsburgh survived, and the Panthers went a respectable 7-6.
DAVIS: That leaves Auburn. They’re in it every year, and unlike some of these teams, they’re not a surprise to end up here at the end of things. But they faced some special challenges.
HERBSTREIT: Obviously, Rece, before the robot armies became self-aware and turned on humanity, they were developed for a more focused purpose: Nick Saban intended to use them as his defensive line.
CORSO: The guy never stops recruiting, and it’s why he’s one of the best.
DAVIS: Now, Gus Malzahn had made some comments that raised a stir at SEC Media Days on this topic, let’s roll this clip-
GUS MALZAHN: I just think that the league needs to step in, I don’t think what they’re doing in Tuscaloosa is right. First, there’s the academic angle — are these robots even technically students? Second, you have to wonder if Coach Saban — who I respect a great deal — realize that’s he’s playing god and could damn humanity to—
[interrupted by screaming in the background]
MALZAHN: [gravely] It’s happening.
DAVIS: And of course we all know what happened that day in Birmingham.
CORSO: We recognize the brave sacrifice of LSU’s Ed Orgeron, who killed a dozen robots with his bare hands before succumbing to his injuries.
ALL: [moment of silence]
HERBSTREIT: But you’ve still got to play the games, and credit to Coach Malzahn for both escaping the killfields of Birmingham and showing up to play in the Iron Bowl.
CORSO: Just a classic game. Auburn held tight against the robot army the entire game; by November we’d learned a lot about how to neutralize them, but obviously you’ve still got to perform on gameday.
DAVIS: It all came down to the kicking game, and that’s where Coach Saban’s robot army fell flat. Freshman kicker KS-3428 goes out there with Auburn leading by two, with a chance for the win, and — well, let’s just watch:
CORSO: You hate to see that happen to anyone, even a murderous robot partially responsible for the enslavement and/or destruction of humanity. But I tell you what — this kid’s a winner. You look at his face after that missed kick, you see someone determined to get back out there. He’ll be back next year, and he’ll be better than ever. Des, what do you think?
HOWARD: [rises mechanically, picks up Herbstreit, tears him in half]
CORSO: After the commercial break, we’ve got Jason Aldean singing his new hit “She Knows How To Kill A Robot (And Steal My Heart)”