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The Great 21st Century Division 1 Football Tournament

(Intro + West Coast region)

And now, for something completely different. The written section of our blog has traditionally been Sam's domain, but today I (the other one) debut the first region in what will be a giant, bi-weekly, virtual 21st century college football tournament. Here are the basics of what that means:

-The field consists of every team to play Division 1 football (FBS or FCS) in 2019. Conveniently, that comes out to 256 teams, which math fans in the audience may realize is a power of 2, meaning that it works out to 16 regions of 16 teams each.

-To decide which teams go in which regions, I looked at a US map, and did the best I could to create geographically-condensed regions that kept whole states together when possible. (This was, by far, the hardest part of putting this whole project together, incidentally. If you've got some time and sanity to spare, I highly recommend taking a list of 256 schools and trying to break them up into 16 geographic regions of 16 that make any sense.)

-Within each region, the bracket is "seeded" at random.

-Each result in the tournament is determined thus: If the two teams have faced each other in real life at any point during the 21st century, that result was used. (If they faced each other more than once, one game from the series is picked at random.) If they did not face each other, then a 21st century season is picked at random, and the matchup simulator simulates a single game on a neutral field between the two teams from that year.

-Each school can only use a given year's team once. So if, for example, Stanford wins in the first round with a real game from its 2010 team, it can't use the 2010 team again for the rest of the tournament.

-The winners of each region advance to the championship bracket, where the regions have been pre-selected to, again, pair up geographically-close regions as much as possible.

-I'll release a new region, with full results, every Monday and Thursday until the entire tournament has been completed.

If any of that seems a little confusing, I think it'll make sense as we go along, so without further ado, let's jump into the West Coast region of the Great 21st Century Division 1 Football Tournament.

The West Coast region features teams from Hawaii, California, Nevada, and Arizona. (With the exception of Northern Arizona, who will compete in the Rocky Mountain region.) Obviously, you'd expect this to be a Pac-12-dominated region, but schools like Hawaii, Fresno State, and Nevada have all had success this century, too. Here's how the bracket came out:

All results are real games, unless denoted with (SIM)

*First Round results*

[2010 Sacramento State] 17


[2010 Stanford] 52

Andrew Luck throws for 316 yards and 4 TDs to get the Cardinal out of the first round without breaking a sweat.

[2009 Fresno State] 51


[2009 UC-Davis] 0

Derek Carr comes off the bench to make his collegiate debut, and Ryan Mathews begins his prolific junior season with 106 rush yards and a TD to advance the Bulldogs.

[2011 San Jose State] 17


[2011 UCLA] 27

In the game after Houston beat UCLA to open the 2011 season, the Bruins bounced back with a victory, which gets them out of the first round. Troy High alum (represent!) and future first deaf offensive player in NFL history Derrick Coleman rushes for 135 yards and a score for the Bruins.

[2018 UNLV] 34


[2018 Cal Poly] 21

(SIM) Even facing an FCS opponent, this one was no gimme for the Rebels, as Massey had them as just a 5-point favorite, but they managed to avoid an embarrassing first-round exit.

[2002 Arizona State] 39


[2002 San Diego State] 28

Home-field advantage isn’t enough for the Aztecs, as Andrew Walter torches them for 4 passing TDs.

[2012 Nevada] 31


[2012 Cal] 24

The Wolf Pack travels to Berkeley and picks up a win, behind 3 rushing TDs from Stefphon Jefferson, including one in the final minute to seal the deal.

[2003 USC] 61


[2003 Hawaii] 32

The eventual Rose Bowl-champion Trojans didn’t have much trouble with the Warriors, holding Timmy Chang to 306 yards on 54 attempts and intercepting him twice. A tough-luck draw for Hawaii sees them out in the first round.

[2010 San Diego] 7


[2010 Arizona] 49

(SIM) The Wildcats complete the state of Arizona’s sweep of the city of San Diego.

*Second Round results*

[2019 Stanford] 31


[2019 Fresno State] 17

(SIM) An all-Nor Cal matchup that surprisingly hasn’t been contested in real life this century, Massey had the Cardinal as just a 4-point favorite, but Stanford advances by two TDs.

[2015 UCLA] 37


[2015 UNLV] 3

Josh Rosen has an uneven game for the Bruins, but they keep the homestanding Rebels off the board until a field goal in the closing minutes, so it doesn’t really matter.

[2006 Arizona State] 52


[2006 Nevada] 21

Another strong passing performance for ASU, this time Rudy Carpenter tosses 5 touchdowns to comfortably lead the Sun Devils forward, ensuring an all-Pac-12 regional semifinal.

[2019 USC] 41


[2019 Arizona] 14

The Trojans jumped out to a 34-0 lead and never looked back, setting up a matchup with the other Arizona Pac-12 team in the semis.

*Semifinal results*

[2004 Stanford] 0


[2004 UCLA] 21

The Bruin defense pitches a shutout, and Maurice Drew does a little bit of everything, rushing for 105 yards, taking a punt to the house, and catching a TD pass.

[2016 Arizona State] 20


[2016 USC] 41

Sam Darnold finds JuJu Smith-Schuster for 3 touchdowns, and we’ve got a rivalry matchup in the final.

*Regional Final*

[2002 UCLA] 21


[2002 USC] 52

The Trojans march into the Rose Bowl and dominate, out-rushing the Bruins 197-40. Carson Palmer throws 4 TDs to four different receivers, and USC wins the West region and advances to the championship bracket.

Hope you enjoyed this, because there's plenty more of it to come. Next up will be the Coal Region, coming on Thursday.


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