Home The 128 Team Playoff, Day 1: Introduction and the Play-Ins

The 128 Team Playoff, Day 1: Introduction and the Play-Ins

by CJ Olson

Photo courtesy of Akron athletics

Last offseason, I embarked on a journey to rank all 130 FBS fight songs by doing weekly write-ups from dead last to first. The final article, with links for the others within can be found here.

When the season ended, it left me wondering, “what can I do this offseason to keep me occupied? I’ve already done a weekly series that lasted over three months.”

And then it hit me: it’s time for a daily series.


We’ve created a 130-team bracket using ESPN’s FPI as our ranking system.

“But, anyone can create a bracket; how will the games be simulated?” Great question; NCAA Game Sim was used.

For each game on the bracket, the matchup was simulated once and every day a write-up will be done.

For the matchup, player statistics will be simulated and included in the write-ups.

Finally, thanks to the NCAA Game Sim premium membership, we’ll show the results of doing 100 simulations all at once. This is to see if a given result was more towards the expected side or if a given result was more towards the upset or luckier side.

All of the results have been simulated and tabulated, so at the time of writing the introduction, the results are already in.

This is designed to be fun, so please enjoy.

From Georgia to Massachusetts, here’s the 130-team bracket:

The Play-In; Matches 1 and 2

There are 130 teams at the FBS level of college football. The closest number to have a single elimination bracket is 128, so the bottom two 16-seeds have to be determined via a play-in round.

Match 1

(16) New Mexico State vs. (16) Massachusetts

This was a tight, back-and-forth game for the honor of getting Alabama and Bryce Young in the first round.

Massachusetts was woeful trying to move the ball through the air. Quarterback Brady Olson was a paltry 8-for-16 for 58 yards, and one interception. Receiver Rico Arnold was the only receiver to have over 10 receiving yards, with 34.

Where Massachusetts thrived was in the run game. Running back Ellis Merriweather kept the Minutemen in this game with his performance: 212 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 21 rushing attempts.

Unfortunately for Massachusetts, New Mexico State had a strong showing through the air. Quarterback Jonah Johnson had 306 passing yards, with receiver Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda leading the Aggies with 60 yards receiving.

Ultimately, the Aggies scored just enough to win 20-17.

In 100 simulations, New Mexico State won 61 times. The average score was 24.5-20.5 in favor of the Aggies.

Winner’s Next Matchup: (1) Alabama

Tomorrow’s Matchup: (1) Alabama vs. (16) New Mexico State

Match 2

(16) Akron vs. (16) Connecticut

This was an ugly game that featured four field goals for the Zips. Quarterback Zach Gibson had a decent game, throwing for 197 yards, one touchdown, and one interception on 65.5% passing. Thankfully for Gibson, Jonzell Norrils had 145 rushing yards on 11 attempts. Cory Smigel really was the MVP with those four field goals.

Connecticut quarterback Steven Krajewski limited mistakes, but did not take enough shots. Despite the 66.7% completion percentage and no interceptions, he only had 159 yards on 27 completions.

Connecticut would have benefitted from some explosiveness in the run game, but its leading rusher was Nathan Carter’s 47 yards on 10 attempts.

Despite it not looking pretty, the Zips did pull out a close 19-14 victory over the Huskies.

In 100 simulations, Akron won 77 times. The average score was 24.3-14.9 in favor of Akron.

Winner’s Next Matchup: (1) Georgia

Tomorrow’s Matchup: (1) Georgia vs. (16) Akron

Updated Bracket

Teams Lost, In Order:


Massachusetts, Connecticut

Remaining Teams by Conference:

American: 11/11 (highest remaining: 2. Cincinnati)

ACC: 14/14 (highest remaining: 1. Clemson)

Big 12: 10/10 (highest remaining: 1. Oklahoma, 1. Oklahoma State)

Big Ten: 14/14 (highest remaining: 1. Ohio State, 1. Michigan)

Conference USA: 14/14 (highest remaining: 6. Western Kentucky)

Independents: 5/7 (highest remaining: 1. Notre Dame)

MAC: 12/12 (highest remaining: 9. Toledo)

Mountain West: 12/12 (highest remaining: 5. Boise State)

Pac-12: 12/12 (highest remaining: 2. Utah)

SEC: 14/14 (highest remaining: 1. Georgia, 1. Alabama)

Sun Belt: 10/10 (highest remaining: 5. Appalachian State)