Ultimate Playoff: Elite Eight

Publish date:

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 9 West Virginia: After taking care of Tennessee in the first round, the Buckeyes run into a far more imposing opponent in West Virginia. The Mountaineers, who rolled past Kansas in Round 1, could give Ohio State's vaunted defense some trouble. The Buckeyes haven't come across an offense this season anywhere near as fast as Pat White & Co. In Ohio State's lone loss, the Buckeyes had no answer for Illinois dual-threat QB Juice Williams -- a poor man's version of White. But as explosive as West Virginia's offense can be, the Mountaineers also have games when nothing clicks (see: losses to South Florida and Pittsburgh). If WVU can limit the turnovers, no defense in America can shut it down, not even the nation's top-ranked unit.

Ohio State's offense has been surprisingly efficient this season, considering all the firepower it lost from the '06 squad (Heisman winner Troy Smith, Antonio Pittman and Ted Ginn Jr.). The unit revolves around RB Chris "Beanie" Wells, but QB Todd Boeckman has the ability to pick a defense apart through the air. One of the biggest misconceptions this season has been that West Virginia is a one-dimensional, offensive dynamo. The Mountaineers' actually rank fourth in total defense.

No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Georgia: This matchup features two teams that will undoubtedly start next season on the short list of national-title contenders. Both squads rolled through the first round in convincing fashion, so this could be the tightest game in Round 2.

Each team possesses a talented underclassman at quarterback (Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Georgia's Matthew Stafford). Bradford has been a model of consistency all season as the nation's leader in passing efficiency, while Stafford has come into his own in the second half of '07. Both teams have the ability to put up points in a hurry, combining for 13 games with at least 40 points.

Oklahoma and Georgia rank 18th and 19th in total defense, respectively, with almost identical yards-per-game averages (324 and 324.67). Oklahoma's defense excels behind a talented line that includes Auston English, Demarcus Granger and freshman standout Gerald McCoy. Georgia' defense doesn't have a whole lot of start power, with LB Dannell Ellerbe headlining the unit. The recent emergence of DE Marcus Howard as a legitimate pass rusher makes the defense much more intimidating as a whole.

No. 2 LSU vs. No. 7 USC: These two squads began the season as the favorites to reach the national title game. Both teams suffered a number of significant injuries throughout the season and neither dominated like most predicted. The Trojans have turned things around and are probably the hottest team west of Georgia. But at this point LSU would be favored against any team in America.

Don't expect a whole lot of scoring in this one; besides the fact that both teams have gone through noted offensive dry spells, USC and LSU rank second and third, respectively, in total defense. This game will showcase a number of defensive studs who should make an impact at the next level, including LSU's Glenn Dorsey, Ali Highsmith and Chevis Jackson and USC's Sedrick Ellis, Lawrence Jackson and Keith Rivers.

Neither team struggled much in the first round, but the Tigers prevailed by a much larger margin of victory. How will the voting play out in this battle of the titans?

No. 3 Virginia Tech vs. No. 11 Florida: In the first round, the Gators rolled past Missouri, while the Hokies struggled a bit with Illinois. Can Florida pull off its second straight upset to earn a spot in the Final Four?

How will Heisman Trophy favorite Tim Tebow fare against Virginia Tech's talented defense? The Hokies rank near the top of most defensive categories, thanks in large part to Xavier Adibi, who is one of the most complete linebackers in the nation. He'll need to have a huge day if the Hokies plan to slow down Florida's devastating dual-threat quarterback.

Virginia Tech is far from an offensive powerhouse, but the Hokies could enjoy some success against a young Florida defense, especially if QB Sean Glennon can get the passing game going.

Watch out for a huge special teams play or two in this game; Frank Beamer's bunch always excel in this area, and Florida boasts one of the most prolific return men in the country in Brandon James.


• No. 1 Ohio State defeats No. 16 Tennessee: 136,283 (74 percent) to 47,751 (26 percent).

• No. 2 LSU defeats No. 15 Clemson: 178,183 (93 percent) to 13,402 (seven percent).

• No. 3 Virginia Tech defeats No. 14 Illinois: 129,160 (65 percent) to 70,678 (35 percent).

• No. 4 Oklahoma defeats No. 13 Boston College: 174,327 (87 percent) to 27,819 (13 percent).

• No. 5 Georgia defeats No. 12 Arizona State: 145,082 (84 percent) to 27,819 (16 percent).

• No 11 Florida upsets No. 6 Missouri: 130,996 (70 percent) to 56,304 (30 percent).

• No. 7 USC defeats No. 10 Hawaii: 140,157 (74 percent) to 50,217 (26 percent).

• No. 9 West Virginia upsets No. 8 Kansas: 126,413 (68 percent) to 60,283 (32 percent).