The 128 Team Playoff, Day 127: Utah vs. Tennessee

Photo credit: Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee athletics


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:

Match 128

(2) Utah vs. (4) Tennessee

How Utah Got Here: 59-17 win over (15) Arkansas State, 70-31 win over (7) Washington State, 30-29 win over (6) North Carolina, 31-24 win over (1) Notre Dame, 23-9 win over (4) Oregon

How Tennessee Got Here: 31-10 win over (13) Ball State, 23-21 win over (5) Arizona State, 54-17 win over (1) Oklahoma State, 43-13 win over (2) Cincinnati, 30-21 win over (8) Maryland

Similar to the 2021 Rose Bowl, Utah quarterback Cameron Rising displayed a heroic effort, putting the Utes on his back.

Rising finished 27-for-45 with 371 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He added 58 rushing yards and a touchdown on seven attempts.

Running back Tavion Thomas was a nice shot in the arm for the Utes, rushing for 93 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries.

Two Utah receivers broke the 100-yard mark — Britain Covey and Brant Kuithe.

Kuithe finished with 101 yards on seven receptions, with five of them coming on third down.

Covey finished with 106 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. He also nearly returned a punt for a touchdown in the third quarter, getting forced out of bounds inside the red zone.

Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker had a tremendous game, finishing 23-for-30 with 369 yards, three touchdowns, and an early interception.

Perhaps overshadowing Hooker, wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. was a man possessed. Jones finished with 182 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches. When Hooker needed a big play, Jones was there.

One of the most underrated performances on the day was running back Jabari Small, who finished with 83 yards on 11 carries.

Down 28-24, Tennessee had the ball on its own 23-yard-line with 1:34 remaining and no timeouts.

In seven plays, Hooker and Jones saved the Volunteers’ title aspirations.

Play one: Hooker finds Jones on a 13-yard play over the middle.

Play two: Tennessee goes into the hurry-up, and Hooker hits receiver Cedric Tillman on a short 5-yard out route. Tillman gets out of bounds to stop the clock.

Play three: Hooker hits Jones on a 19-yard comeback route. It was slightly underthrown, so Jones had to go to the ground to catch it.

Play four: Tennessee goes back into the hurry-up from Utah’s 40. Hooker targets JaVonta Payton on a streak. The pass is deflected and caught by the Utes’ defense, but thankfully for Tennessee, the safety was out of bounds. 0:28 remains.

Play five: Jones gets open on a deep post, getting down to the Utah 6-yard-line. 0:13 remains.

Play six: Hooker and the Tennessee offense run up to the line to spike the ball. 0:09 remains.

Play seven: Hooker finds Jones in the back of the end zone after scrambling for a bit. The clock hits 0:00. Tennessee knees the PAT to prevent a miracle finish to force the game to overtime.

<b>A late game drive for the record books punches Tennessee’s ticket to the 128 Team National Championship presented by Fifth Quarter. The Volunteers win one for the ages, 30-28.

In 100 simulations, Tennessee won 53 by an average margin of 29.7-27.2. In terms of a simulation being representative, this was about as close it could be.

Call us biased media, but we designed a 128 Team Playoff and the final is between two SEC teams. Interestingly enough, it’s two SEC East teams, but two SEC teams nonetheless.

Winner’s Next Matchup: (1) Georgia in the 128 Team National Championship presented by Fifth Quarter

Tomorrow’s Matchup: (1) Georgia vs. (4) Tennessee in the 128 Team National Championship presented by Fifth Quarter

Updated Bracket

Teams Lost, In Order:


Massachusetts, Connecticut


Akron, New Mexico State, Florida International, Temple, New Mexico, Bowling Green, Rice, Vanderbilt, Louisiana-Monroe, Texas State, Arkansas State, Charlotte, Southern Mississippi, Ohio, Kansas, Duke, UNLV, Georgia Southern, UTEP, South Alabama, San Jose State, South Florida, Arizona, Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech, Ball State, Minnesota, Navy, Nebraska, Buffalo, Troy, Colorado State, North Texas, Eastern Michigan, Northwestern, Northern Illinois, Florida Atlantic, Stanford, Tulane, Colorado, Wyoming, Middle Tennessee, Rutgers, Miami University, Indiana, Louisville, Georgia Tech, East Carolina, West Virginia, Central Michigan, Missouri, Syracuse, Tulsa, Western Michigan, Utah State, Liberty, UTSA, Boston College, Nevada, South Carolina, Army, Washington, Air Force, Virginia Tech


Toledo, Alabama, Illinois, TCU, UAB, Marshall, USC, San Diego State, California, UCF, Washington State, Pittsburgh, Oregon State, Florida State, BaylorNC State, Louisiana, Ole MissMichigan State, Auburn, SMU, Wake Forest, Miami, Western Kentucky, Purdue, Arizona State, Hawaii, Kentucky, Kent State, Kansas State, UCLA, Appalachian State


Iowa, FloridaOhio State, Mississippi State, Houston, Boise State, Oklahoma State, BYU, Iowa State, LSU, North Carolina, Fresno State, Wisconsin, Georgia State, Virginia, Memphis


Penn State, Texas TechTexas A&M, Coastal Carolina, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Clemson


Texas, Maryland, Oregon, Oklahoma


Michigan, Utah


American: 0/11 (last remaining was No. 2 Cincinnati, eliminated Day 120)

ACC: 0/14 (last remaining was No. 1 Clemson, eliminated Day 121)

Big 12: 0/10 (last remaining was No. 1 Oklahoma, eliminated Day 125)

Big Ten: 0/14 (last remaining was No. 1 Michigan, eliminated Day 126)

Conference USA: 0/14 (last remaining was No. 6 Western Kentucky, eliminated Day 89)

Independents: 0/7 (last remaining was No. 1 Notre Dame, eliminated Day 119)

MAC: 0/12 (last remaining was No. 13 Kent State, eliminated Day 94)

Mountain West: 0/12 (last remaining was No. 7 Fresno State, eliminated Day 109)

Pac-12: 0/12 (last remaining was No. 2 Utah, eliminated Day 127)

SEC: 2/14 (highest remaining: 1. Georgia)

Sun Belt: 0/10 (last remaining was No. 6 Coastal Carolina, eliminated Day 117)