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Back in the day, college football scheduling was fun. (But now it's much, much better.)

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If teams scheduled like they did 30 years ago, you might have fewer cupcakes. But you'd have fewer big games, fewer bowls, no conference titles, no Playoff ... and still plenty of cupcakes.

No College Football Playoff means no College Football Playoff trophy. Urban Meyer would make do with the previous gold standard.
No College Football Playoff means no College Football Playoff trophy. Urban Meyer would make do with the previous gold standard.
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Every facet of life involves someone saying, "Back in my day ..."

For college football, that facet is scheduling.

When SEC teams schedule Southern Conference opponents the week before big November rivalry games as a matter of practicality, we scoff. When Baylor becomes Kansas State-ian in its non-conference scheduling and it nearly leads to a College Football Playoff appearance, we scold.

Missouri fans of a certain age will roll their eyes at the scheduling of an Eastern Michigan. Those fans think back to the 1970s, when the Tigers scheduled anybody, secured monumental wins, and collapsed in the middle of conference play.

As with many "back in my day" things, our memory is cloudy. While there were more fun non-conference battles a few decades ago, there were also fewer conference games, bowls or mandatory matchups of top teams. And, yes, there were quite a few cupcake games.

On the eve of the 2015 season, with people grumbling about neutral-site games and too many bowls and whatnot, I decided to run a little experiment. I simulated 2015 using the 1985 schedule. Which one provides more intrigue, big games and fun? We complain that scheduling used to be so much better; was it?

I chose 1985 for a couple of reasons. First, it's the year I became completely enamored with college football. I was 7, and Oklahoma's Jamelle Holieway and Keith Jackson (the tight end, not the announcer) pulled this Western Oklahoma kid into its vortex.

Second, it's a schedule we envision when complaining about current practices. Alabama played Penn State and Texas A&M in non-conference. Notre Dame played Ole Miss, LSU and Miami (plus Michigan, Michigan State and USC, of course). Miami played Florida and Oklahoma. Florida State played Nebraska and Auburn. UCLA played BYU and Tennessee.

The basics

I used S&P+ projections (now updated!) for this experiment. First, here are the likeliest final standings, based on win probabilities.

ACC All games Conference games
Team 2015 S&P+ Proj. Avg. wins Avg. losses Avg. Wins Avg. losses Conf win%
Clemson 17 7.3 3.7 5.1 1.9 0.736
Georgia Tech 19 7.4 3.6 4.2 1.8 0.696
North Carolina 40 6.0 5.0 3.7 3.3 0.529
NC State 44 6.0 5.0 3.5 3.5 0.506
Virginia 42 6.0 5.0 3.5 3.5 0.493
Maryland 53 5.0 6.0 2.8 3.2 0.465
Duke 55 4.8 6.2 2.8 4.2 0.400
Wake Forest 90 3.6 7.4 1.4 5.6 0.198

Without Florida State and later Big East additions, this group has only two particularly good 2015 teams, which means parity.

That was the story in 1985, too. Maryland and Georgia Tech finished No. 18 and 19 in the polls, and five teams finished between 4-7 and 7-4. Conference champion Maryland ended up in the Cherry Bowl in Detroit, with Georgia Tech in the All-American Bowl.

(You'll notice that not everybody played the same number of conference games in 1985. College football is still a ragged mess, but it is Felix Ungar compared to the Oscar Madison of the pre-1990s version. Just wait until you see the Pac-10.)

Big 8 All Games Conference Games
Team S&P+ Proj. Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Conf Win%
Oklahoma 11 8.7 2.3 5.4 1.6 0.778
Missouri 24 7.8 3.2 4.9 2.1 0.701
Nebraska 32 6.7 4.3 4.3 2.7 0.611
Kansas State 38 7.3 3.7 4.1 2.9 0.581
Oklahoma State 47 6.7 4.3 3.5 3.5 0.499
Colorado 69 3.4 7.6 2.5 4.5 0.350
Iowa State 86 4.1 6.9 2.0 5.0 0.282
Kansas 102 3.8 8.2 1.4 5.6 0.197

You've got an interesting race for the Orange Bowl here, since we're giving these 2015 teams their 1985 bowl ties as well. Oklahoma is a slight favorite, but three other teams are within 1.3 projected wins.

While the Orange got the 1985 Big 8 champion (Oklahoma), others ended up in the Fiesta (Nebraska), Gator (Oklahoma State), and Freedom (Colorado).

Big Ten All Games Conference Games
Team S&P+ Proj. Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Conf Win%
Ohio State 1 10.0 1.0 7.3 0.7 0.908
Michigan State 10 8.5 2.5 6.4 1.6 0.799
Wisconsin 28 7.5 3.5 4.8 3.2 0.595
Michigan 30 6.2 4.8 4.6 3.4 0.570
Minnesota 45 5.8 5.2 3.6 4.4 0.452
Northwestern 62 4.1 6.9 2.9 5.1 0.358
Illinois 57 4.2 6.8 2.9 5.1 0.358
Purdue 67 4.0 7.0 2.8 5.2 0.348
Iowa 59 4.8 6.2 2.7 5.3 0.332
Indiana 74 3.2 7.8 2.2 5.8 0.279

No matter how you draw the schedule up, Ohio State is the favorite and Michigan State is the only realistic contender.

The 1985 version featured three top-15 teams, which resulted in Rose (Iowa), Fiesta (Michigan), Citrus (Ohio State), Peach (Illinois!), Independence (Minnesota), and All-American (Michigan State) bids. With only three teams projected to win more than six games, things probably don't play out the same here.

Independents All Games
Team S&P+ Proj. Avg. Wins Avg. Losses
Florida State 20 8.0 3.0
Virginia Tech 27 7.7 3.3
Louisville 34 7.5 3.5
Miami 26 7.1 3.9
Notre Dame 16 7.1 3.9
Penn State 31 6.8 4.2
Boston College 52 6.8 5.2
South Carolina 33 6.7 4.3
Pittsburgh 35 6.5 4.5
West Virginia 39 6.4 4.6
Cincinnati 48 5.9 5.1
Temple 58 5.6 5.4
UL-Lafayette 85 5.5 5.5
Navy 60 5.4 5.6
Rutgers 70 5.4 5.6
Memphis 68 4.5 6.5
Tulsa 108 4.2 6.8
East Carolina 78 4.0 7.0
Syracuse 79 3.5 7.5
Southern Miss 107 3.2 7.8
Army 126 3.0 8.0
Tulane 89 2.5 8.5

Until Florida State, Penn State, and others joined conferences, independents played an interesting role. When the 1985 regular season finished, Penn State was No. 1, Miami No. 2, and Florida State No. 18. Other indies like South Carolina, Notre Dame, and Army were involved in the polls.

The impact in 2015 isn't the same, though that's a bit of a timing issue. Obviously an independent FSU would've been a major factor if we simulated 2013 or 2014 with 1985 schedules.

MAC All Games Conference Games
Team S&P+ Proj. Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Conf Win%
Western Michigan 63 7.3 3.7 6.3 2.7 0.702
Toledo 75 6.8 4.2 5.8 3.2 0.649
Northern Illinois 82 5.6 5.4 4.8 3.2 0.602
Central Michigan 91 4.7 5.3 4.6 4.4 0.507
Ohio 92 4.9 6.1 4.5 4.5 0.503
Bowling Green 99 5.1 5.9 4.3 4.7 0.482
Ball State 104 4.7 6.3 4.2 4.8 0.467
Kent State 95 5.4 5.6 4.0 4.0 0.500
Miami-OH 113 3.9 7.1 3.6 5.4 0.402
Eastern Michigan 128 2.4 8.6 1.8 7.2 0.196

The MAC got one bowl slot in 1985: the California Bowl. And no matter how you schedule it, WMU, Toledo, and NIU are your three most likely MAC champions in 2015.

(Note: the Missouri Valley, with teams like Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa, was still technically a I-A conference in 1985, but we'll ignore that for obvious reasons.)

Pac-10 All Games Conference Games
Team S&P+ Proj. Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Conf Win%
Oregon 4 9.3 1.7 5.9 1.1 0.840
UCLA 6 8.2 2.8 5.9 2.1 0.743
USC 12 7.6 3.4 5.7 2.3 0.717
Stanford 18 7.2 3.8 4.8 3.2 0.600
Arizona State 23 6.5 4.5 4.1 2.9 0.588
California 50 4.4 6.6 3.3 5.7 0.367
Arizona 36 6.6 4.4 3.2 3.8 0.461
Washington State 56 3.9 7.1 2.6 5.4 0.327
Washington 64 3.7 7.3 2.3 5.7 0.286
Oregon State 80 4.0 7.0 1.8 6.2 0.223

California playing nine conference games ... three teams playing seven ...

In 1985, UCLA won the conference at 6-2, just ahead of four teams with five conference wins. The Pac-10 ended up with bids in the Rose (UCLA), Holiday (Arizona State), Sun (Arizona), Aloha (USC), and Freedom (Washington).

Also in 1985, Oregon and USC finished the regular season in Tokyo, playing in something called the Mirage Bowl. I think Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott just had a brainstorm.

PCAA All Games Conference Games
Team S&P+ Proj. Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Conf Win%
Boise State 25 10.6 1.4 6.5 0.5 0.922
Utah State 65 6.4 4.6 4.9 2.1 0.703
San Jose State 103 3.8 7.2 3.5 3.5 0.500
Fresno State 96 5.9 5.1 3.5 3.5 0.499
UNLV 120 3.7 7.3 2.6 4.4 0.375
New Mexico State 124 3.4 7.6 2.1 4.9 0.297

A few members of the PCAA -- Pacific, Fullerton State, etc. -- are now defunct. For fun, I've replaced Pacific with Boise State, but otherwise I've ignored some of those games.

As with the MAC, the PCAA sent its champion to the bowl later named the California Raisin Bowl.

SEC All Games Conference Games
Team S&P+ Proj. Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Conf Win%
Alabama 2 9.2 1.8 4.7 1.3 0.778
Ole Miss 3 8.8 2.2 4.6 1.4 0.772
Georgia 5 8.2 2.8 4.6 1.4 0.765
LSU 9 8.3 2.7 4.4 1.6 0.731
Tennessee 14 7.7 3.3 4.0 2.0 0.662
Auburn 7 7.9 3.1 3.8 2.2 0.635
Mississippi State 22 7.4 3.6 3.0 3.0 0.506
Florida 37 5.3 5.7 2.4 3.6 0.407
Kentucky 46 5.4 5.6 1.9 4.1 0.319
Vanderbilt 77 3.5 7.5 0.8 5.2 0.138

No conference was more of an unstructured frontier than the Southeastern. Half the conference scheduled some combination of Memphis, Southern Miss, and Tulane. Florida had Miami, Virginia Tech, and Florida State; Mississippi State had Arkansas State, the trinity (USM, Memphis, Tulane), and Syracuse (admittedly a stronger matchup then).

With a lot of bowls based in the South, the SEC did pretty well. It claimed the Sugar (Tennessee), Cotton (Auburn), Sun (Georgia), Liberty (LSU), and Aloha (Alabama).

SWC All Games Conference Games
Team S&P+ Proj. Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Conf Win%
Arkansas 8 8.9 2.1 6.3 1.7 0.783
Baylor 13 7.9 3.1 6.2 1.8 0.772
TCU 15 8.1 2.9 5.5 2.5 0.692
Texas A&M 21 8.0 3.0 5.3 2.7 0.665
Texas 29 6.4 4.6 4.8 3.2 0.600
Texas Tech 51 6.1 4.9 3.6 4.4 0.453
Houston 88 3.3 7.7 2.2 5.8 0.274
Rice 87 3.3 7.7 1.9 6.1 0.243
SMU 119 1.5 9.5 1.0 7.0 0.127

Ladies and gentlemen, the second-best conference in the country. Five of the conference's nine members are projected in the top 30, and if you go by the 2015 AP Poll, the SWC Has the No. 2 (TCU), 4 (Baylor), and 18 (Arkansas) teams.

In 1985, the SWC nabbed bids in the Cotton (Texas A&M), Holiday (Arkansas), Liberty (Baylor), and Bluebonnet (Texas).

WAC All Games Conference Games
Team S&P+ Proj. Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Conf Win%
Utah 41 8.7 3.3 6.1 1.9 0.758
BYU 49 8.3 4.7 5.8 2.2 0.728
Colorado State 73 5.9 6.1 4.5 3.5 0.567
San Diego State 76 5.3 6.7 4.2 3.8 0.523
Air Force 81 6.0 6.0 4.1 3.9 0.508
New Mexico 98 4.3 6.7 3.4 4.6 0.429
UTEP 100 4.7 6.3 2.9 5.1 0.367
Wyoming 114 3.2 7.8 2.4 5.6 0.303
Hawaii 121 3.4 8.6 2.0 6.0 0.253

The story of the WAC in the mid-1980s was BYU vs. Whoever. In 1985, Air Force made a stunning run into the top 10, losing only to BYU and finishing eighth in the polls. BYU (Citrus) and Air Force (Bluebonnet) each took decent slots that year.

In this version of the WAC, Utah and BYU are the top dogs, battling it out for probably one to two bowl slots.

The big simulation

There were fewer bowl affiliations, more non-conference games, and more independents in 1985. But that only tells us a little of what we wanted to know.

To get a feel for the excitement of the season itself, let's walk through it, week by week. Using S&P+ win probability odds, here's an example of how 1985's schedule could have played out. The 2014 season produced 67 games between ranked teams; can a 2015 with 1985's schedule top that number?

Important note: the above tables show teams' average wins across multiple simulations, but below we'll look at a single simulation. Each game is simulated with a random number generator; teams with 1 percent chances will win 1 percent of those games, and so on.

The results themselves aren't the point, but there are some hilarious ones. A single simulation can get crazy. And this one gets pretty damn crazy. Like, "Alabama finishing 6-5" crazy. "Ohio State losing to Pitt" crazy. Some of the results are entertaining, but let's not get too lost in the details.

Week 1

The first week has only 11 games, three involving ranked teams. GameDay is in Athens for an enormous Monday night season opener: AP Poll No. 3 Alabama at No. 9 Georgia. Oregon heads to Pullman for Vernon Adams' first battle, and Florida State takes on Tulane in the Superdome.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 1

Notable results:

  • BYU (53% win probability) beats Boston College at Giants Stadium.
  • No. 10 Florida State (88%) defeats Tulane on the road.
  • No. 7 Oregon (84%) wins at Washington State.
  • No. 9 Georgia (47%) defeats No. 3 Alabama at home.

Week 2

The first full week of action (44 games) does not feature any battles of ranked teams. Rece Davis' GameDay is in Lincoln for Nebraska against No. 10 Florida State. Otherwise the slate is cupcakes and some semi-interesting power-conference games: UCLA at BYU, Louisville at West Virginia, Miami at Florida, USC at Illinois, Maryland at Penn State, Washington at Oklahoma State.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 0

Notable results:

  • No. 9 USC (79%) wins at the interim-coached Illinois.
  • Nebraska (45%) defeats No. 10 Florida State at home.
  • No. 13 UCLA (78%) wins at BYU.
  • Toledo (20%) upsets No. 22 Arizona in Tempe.
  • Maryland (40%) beats James Franklin's Penn State at home.

Two weeks into the season, the top two teams in the country (Ohio State and TCU) are a combined 0-0.

Week 3

Week 3 shifts college football into fifth gear. No. 3 Baylor travels to No. 4 Georgia, No. 14 Arizona State plays at No. 5 Michigan State, Texas A&M meets No. 8 Alabama in Birmingham, No. 10 Notre Dame heads to Michigan for Jim Harbaugh's debut, No. 12 UCLA plays at No. 25 Tennessee, and No. 16 Ole Miss meets No. 17 Arkansas in Jackson.

When we reminisce about the scheduling of yesteryear, this is the type of week we envision. And the random number generator decides to make things even wilder than the schedule suggests.

Because GameDay has already been to Athens, we'll say ESPN's in East Lansing. They witness a bit of an upset.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 4

Notable results:

  • OH! Pitt (11%) upsets No. 1 Ohio State in Columbus!
  • Well then! No. 3 Baylor (34%) wins at No. 4 Georgia.
  • No. 14 Arizona State (33%) upsets No. 5 Michigan State in East Lansing.
  • Crisis! Kevin Sumlin's Texas A&M (23%) upsets No. 8 Alabama in Birmingham! The Tide are 0-2!
  • No. 10 Notre Dame (56%) wins at Michigan.
  • Virginia Tech (48%) beats No. 11 Clemson at home.
  • No. 12 UCLA (53%) wins at No. 25 Tennessee.
  • No. 16 Ole Miss (59%) holds off No. 17 Arkansas in Jackson.
  • CMU (14%) upsets No. 23 Boise State at home.

Every season features a week when nothing seems to go according to plan. I would say this qualifies. Four of the top eight teams lose, all despite at least 65 percent chances to win. We've got two SWC teams atop the polls, and Alabama and Ohio State are a combined 0-3!

Week 4

With the big win at Georgia, Baylor leapfrogs TCU atop the polls. The Bears' reward? Heading to Los Angeles to face No. 6 USC, where GameDay waits. This is a slightly different scheduling approach than present-day Baylor's. And in this instance, it does not pay off.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 4

Notable results:

  • No. 6 USC (56%) defeats No. 1 Baylor at home. Baylor's reign is a short one.
  • No. 2 TCU (62%) beats Kansas State in Manhattan.
  • No. 4 Oregon (69%) knocks off No. 21 Stanford at home.
  • No. 5 Georgia (58%) continues a rugged September by knocking off No. 20 Clemson on the road.
  • Rising No. 8 Arizona State (57%) survives Boise State at home.
  • No. 10 Michigan State (50%) wins at No. 11 Notre Dame.
  • Pat Narduzzi's Pitt (68%), now up to No. 14, defeats Boston College at home.
  • Texas (52%) takes down No. 24 Missouri at home.
  • South Carolina (54%) beats Michigan at home.

TCU becomes the country's third No. 1 of the season and the second from the SWC. Oklahoma's season hasn't actually begun yet.

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Week 5

Fresh off of a win over No. 1 Baylor, USC gets a top-10 road trip to Tempe. Meanwhile, Oklahoma plays a game! In Minneapolis!

Ranked vs. ranked games: 4

Notable results:

  • No. 1 TCU (97%) will remain in the top spot after a home win over SMU.
  • No. 8 Arizona State (47%) takes down No. 2 USC at home.
  • No. 3 Oregon (70%) heads to Lincoln and knocks off No. 21 Nebraska.
  • No. 4 Auburn (53%) gets a big road win over Tennessee.
  • No. 5 Georgia (79%) beats South Carolina at home.
  • The run is over, but the rivalry is back. West Virginia (54%) takes down No. 13 Pitt at home.
  • No. 17 Oklahoma (71%) takes down Minnesota on the road.
  • Boilers! Darrell Hazell's Purdue (21%) pulls off a home upset of No. 18 Notre Dame.
  • Mississippi State (69%) beats Florida at home, revenge for the Gators taking MSU's defensive coordinator.
  • Missouri (85%) beats Indiana at home. Take THAT, reality.

Week 6

TCU remains in the top spot, but here comes a huge test. Arkansas visits. And you have probably caught on to how much S&P+ likes Arkansas.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 3

Notable results:

  • Yep. No. 21 Arkansas (53%) takes down No. 1 TCU in Fort Worth.
  • No. 2 Oregon (92%) romps at home over Washington.
  • More upheaval! No. 11 Ole Miss (47%) heads to Auburn and takes down the No. 3 Tigers.
  • The run continues. No. 4 Arizona State (29%) beats No. 9 UCLA in the Rose Bowl.
  • The SWC is eating itself. Texas Tech (32%) upsets No. 15 Texas A&M at home.
  • Yeah, that makes sense. Kansas State (35%) upsets No. 16 Oklahoma at home.
  • No. 20 Mississippi State (86%) remains undefeated with a win at Memphis.
  • The magic is gone. South Carolina (47%) beats No. 22 Pitt at Heinz Fied.
  • Biggest upset yet! Wake Forest (6%) beats Butch Jones' Tennessee on the road, presumably by a score of 4-3. The Vols are 0-3!

We'll have yet another No. 1; this time it's a familiar team from out west.

Week 7

With No. 1 Oregon off, eyes are on the South. GameDay's in Oxford for a top-10 battle between Ole Miss and Georgia, while Florida State visits Auburn. Something noticeable: the big non-conference games trickle into October, mainly because, well, independent teams didn't have conference slates.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 3

Notable results:

  • No. 2 Arizona State (69%) survives a tricky visit from No. 20 Utah.
  • No. 3 Georgia (44%) is back in the spotlight with a road win over No. 6 Ole Miss.
  • The first big win of the post-Jameis era: No. 19 Florida State (33%) takes down No. 8 Auburn.
  • No. 10 Michigan State (72%) handles Michigan at home. Michigan's now 1-4. Poor Jim Harbaugh.
  • Whoa! Vanderbilt (13%) upsets No. 11 LSU in Nashville!
  • No. 12 Arkansas (78%) is rising quickly after beating Texas Tech in Lubbock.
  • No. 13 Alabama (76%) handles Penn State in Happy Valley.
  • Undefeated No. 18 Mississippi State (66%) keeps flying under the radar with a road win over Kentucky.
  • Texas (35%) takes down No. 21 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
  • Oklahoma State (43%) takes down Mike Riley's No. 25 Nebraska at home.

By the way, if you're thinking roads are leading toward a huge Oregon-ASU game, you're wrong. The two are not scheduled to play each other.

Week 8

Boy, what a dud schedule. Most of the ranked teams are huge favorites. There are three battles of ranked teams, and two are SWC conference battles. Of course, when you write a week off ...

Ranked vs. ranked games: 3

Notable results:

  • The random number generator chooses chaos. California (13%) pulls off the biggest win of the Sonny Dykes era with a win over No. 1 Oregon. We'll have another new No. 1.
  • No. 2 Arizona State (83%) beats Utah State at home.
  • No. 3 Georgia (90%) does not suffer LSU's fate, beating Vandy in Nashville.
  • No. 4 Baylor (61%) survives No. 20 Texas A&M at home.
  • No. 10 Arkansas (75%) takes down No. 25 Texas at home.
  • No. 11 Alabama (74%) beats Tennessee in Birmingham.
  • Georgia Tech is no longer undefeated. No. 17 Auburn (56%) takes down the No. 13 Yellow Jackets in Atlanta.
  • No. 24 Missouri (62%) takes down Nebraska at home.
  • Yikes. It's a collapse in Norman after Miami (32%) upsets the Sooners.

Todd Graham's Sun Devils assume the top spot, and we're down to three undefeateds: ASU, Mississippi State, and Louisville. Two of the three haven't played a team with a pulse and are still mired in the teens in the polls.

Week 9

With the top two teams playing Washington State and Kentucky, GameDay is in Waco for Baylor-TCU. Just about the only other game of note is USC-Notre Dame.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 4

Notable results:

  • No. 1 Arizona State (70%) wins at Washington State. The Sun Devils have avoided the land mines.
  • No. 2 Georgia (87%) beats Kentucky at home.
  • No. 3 Baylor (58%) beats No. 4 TCU in Waco. Stop me if you've heard that before.
  • (Touchdown) Jesus! Notre Dame (53%) strikes down No. 5 USC in South Bend.
  • No. 6 Ohio State (87%) is bouncing back from an early upset again, beating No. 24 Minnesota on the road.
  • And we're down to two undefeateds. A surging Miami (63%) takes down No. 11 Louisville at home.
  • No. 12 Mississippi State (32%) remains undefeated with a win over No. 15 Auburn on the Plains. Gus Malzahn's losing all of the tossup games for once.
  • Holy Cal! A week after winning at Oregon, the Golden Bears (14%) win at No. 14 UCLA.
  • North Carolina (40%) takes down No. 16 Florida State at home.
  • Tennessee's finding its groove. The Vols (59%) take down No. 17 Georgia Tech in Knoxville.
  • No. 20 Missouri (66%) moves forward with a home win over No. 19 Kansas State.
  • Hahaha, oh man. Iowa State (7%) beats Oklahoma in Norman. Safe to say Bob Stoops is on the hot seat in this particular simulation.

Week 10

No. 2 Baylor is on bye, and No. 3 Georgia (Tulane), No. 4 Ohio State (Iowa), No. 6 Oregon (San Jose State), and No. 8 Arkansas (Rice), are, too, sort of. We'll say GameDay is in Tempe for ASU-Cal. Good call.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 2

Notable results:

  • Holy smokes. No. 22 California (35%) pulls off a third consecutive monumental upset. No. 1 Arizona State is undefeated no more.
  • No. 5 Michigan State (81%) defeats Minnesota at home.
  • No. 17 LSU (38%) beats No. 7 Ole Miss in Jackson.
  • It continues! Dan Mullen's No. 9 Mississippi State (23%) beats No. 12 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Week 11

Some unexpected upsets have made the last few weeks entertaining, but in terms of ranked-vs.-ranked battles, the schedule has been lacking. That continues, though the random number generator continues to spit out wild results.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 4

Notable results:

  • No. 7 Arkansas (57%) beats No. 1 Baylor in Little Rock.
  • No. 2 Georgia (77%) handles Florida in Jacksonville. And since this is 1985 scheduling, we can officially call it the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party again.
  • Another Tech upset. Texas Tech (29%) takes down No. 9 TCU in Lubbock.
  • No. 10 USC (73%) beats No. 17 Cal in Berkeley. The magic is gone.
  • Oklahoma (56%) beats No. 11 Missouri on the road.
  • No. 13 LSU (41%) beats No. 19 Alabama at home. I cannot even imagine how this Bama slump will go over on Finebaum.
  • No. 14 Ole Miss (57%) wins at Notre Dame in a random non-conference game.
  • No. 23 FSU (66%) beats Steve Spurrier's No. 16 South Carolina at home.
  • Minnesota (41%) beats No. 18 Wisconsin at home.

We head into mid-November with the following top 10: No. 1 Georgia, 2 Mississippi State, 3 Ohio State, 4 Arkansas, 5 Michigan State, 6 Oregon, 7 Arizona State, 8 USC, 9 Baylor, 10 TCU. And no, Georgia and Mississippi State are not scheduled to play each other. Neither are Ohio State and Michigan State.

Week 12

The god of randomness sure does like Mississippi State in this simulation. GameDay is in Baton Rouge, and the Bulldogs pull off another huge road win.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 4

Notable results:

  • No. 16 Auburn (42%) beats No. 1 Georgia on the road.
  • No. 2 Mississippi State (35%) beats No. 10 LSU on the road.
  • No. 3 Ohio State (85%) beats No. 22 Wisconsin at home.
  • No. 4 Arkansas (56%) beats No. 12 Texas A&M on the road.
  • No. 11 Ole Miss (56%) beats Tennessee on the road.
  • No. 13 TCU (56%) beats Texas on the road.

We'll have yet another new No. 1. The upsets salvage what is otherwise a top-heavy slate.

Week 13

Thanksgiving weekend is still the greatest, no matter the year. Buckle up.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 6

Notable results:

  • No. 10 Ole Miss (66%) beats No. 1 Mississippi State in Jackson. Naturally.
  • No. 2 Ohio State (80%) beats Michigan on the road.
  • No. 3 Arkansas (99%) beats SMU at home.
  • No. 23 Wisconsin (41%) beats No. 4 Michigan State at home.
  • No. 5 Oregon (95%) beats Oregon State at home.
  • No. 6 Arizona State (66%) beats Arizona at home.
  • No. 7 USC (49%) beats No. 15 UCLA at home.
  • No. 8 Baylor (58%) beats No. 22 Texas on the road.
  • No. 12 TCU (59%) beats No. 17 Texas A&M at home.
  • No. 13 LSU (51%) beats No. 24 Notre Dame on the road.
  • Colorado (33%) beats No. 16 Kansas State at home.
  • No. 19 South Carolina (43%) beats Clemson at home.

And with that, Ohio State once again rises to the top of the polls. The Buckeyes are destined for the Rose Bowl against either Arizona State or Oregon. Arkansas is your new No. 2, securing a Cotton Bowl bid.

Weeks 14-15

With no championship weekend, the season limps to a close. A few rivalry games remain, but most of the big bowl bids have been decided.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 2

Notable results:

  • No. 3 Oregon (60%) beats No. 9 USC in Tokyo.
  • No. 10 Georgia (59%) beats No. 20 Georgia Tech on the road.
  • No. 13 Auburn (39%) beats Alabama at home. Of course.
  • Florida (41%) beats No. 14 Florida State at home.
  • No. 22 Texas A&M (64%) beats Texas at home.
  • Oklahoma (73%) beats No. 23 Oklahoma State on the road.
  • Miami (47%) beats Notre Dame at home.

Ranked vs. ranked games: 12

Bowls

  • Rose: No. 1 Ohio State (80%) takes down No. 4 Arizona State, securing the national title.
  • Fiesta: No. 7 Baylor (39%) beats No. 3 Oregon.
  • Sugar: No. 16 South Carolina (40%) keeps No. 5 Mississippi State from its first 11-win season.
  • Cotton: No. 2 Arkansas (47%) beats No. 6 Ole Miss, its conference mate in a different reality.
  • Orange: No. 19 Kansas State (23%) upsets No. 9 Georgia.
  • Citrus: No. 8 Michigan State (46%) beats No. 13 Auburn.
  • Gator: No. 22 Missouri (51%) knocks off No. 14 Wisconsin in a tossup.
  • Holiday: No. 15 Texas Tech (23%) shocks No. 11 USC.
  • Peach: No. 17 Louisville (37%) upends No. 20 Florida State.
  • Sun: No. 18 UCLA (59%) finishes off a disappointing campaign for No. 10 TCU.
  • Independence: No. 21 Texas A&M (43%) ends an even more disappointing season for No. 24 Oklahoma.
  • Liberty: No. 23 Georgia Tech (41%) runs around No. 12 LSU.
  • Aloha: No. 25 Minnesota (69%) beats San Diego State.
  • Bluebonnet: Colorado State (34%) upsets Oklahoma State.
  • California: Boise State (93%) defeats Kent State, presumably by a large margin.
  • All-American: Disappointing Nebraska (45%) beats disappointing Miami.
  • Freedom: California (11%) upsets Alabama; the Tide finish 6-6, and I swear I didn't manipulate that.
  • Cherry: Boston College (24%) finishes off a surprisingly strong season with a win over disappointing Notre Dame.

We just don't know how good we've got it these days. Conference title games give us clear conference champions in the absence of full round-robin schedules (which barely existed in 1985 either). And even the BCS assured us of a No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle, even if we didn't agree on who was No. 1 or No. 2.

With 1985 scheduling, the title race becomes a series of if-then statements. If No. 1 Ohio State beats No. 4 Arizona State, the Buckeyes are the champions. If Ohio State loses, then No. 2 Arkansas (vs. No. 6 Ole Miss) gets the next shot. If the Razorbacks lose, it goes to either Arizona State (which would've thus beaten Ohio State) or No. 3 Oregon, which plays No. 7 Baylor. And if Arizona State and Oregon win but look terrible, maybe No. 5 Mississippi State has a shot with a blowout win over No. 16 South Carolina.

This was how the 1983 and 1985 national titles were settled.

In 1983, No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Nebraska while No. 2 Texas, No. 4 Illinois got crushed, and No. 3 Auburn looked only decent in beating No. 8 Michigan by two points. That gave Miami the nod.

In 1985, No. 3 Oklahoma beat No. 1 Penn State while No. 8 Tennessee destroyed No. 2 Miami, and the title went to the Sooners.

If you're a fan of puzzles, maybe this appeals to you.

Your likely final polls:

  1. Ohio State (11-1)
  2. Arkansas (11-1)
  3. Baylor (10-2)
  4. Arizona State (10-2)
  5. Michigan State (10-2)
  6. Oregon (10-2)
  7. Mississippi State (10-2)
  8. South Carolina (10-2)
  9. Ole Miss (9-3)
  10. Texas Tech (9-3)
  11. Louisville (10-2)
  12. UCLA (9-3)
  13. Kansas State (9-3)
  14. Georgia (9-3)
  15. Georgia Tech (9-3)
  16. LSU (9-3)
  17. Texas A&M (8-4)
  18. USC (8-4)
  19. TCU (8-4)
  20. Missouri (8-4)
  21. Wisconsin (9-3)
  22. Auburn (8-4)
  23. MInnesota (8-4)
  24. Boise State (10-3)
  25. Colorado State (9-4)

Lessons learned

Do you choose this reality, or do you take the one we're about to witness? You're probably okay with this if you're an Arkansas, Mississippi State, South Carolina, or Texas Tech fan. But if you have no allegiance to anyone who did well or poorly in the simulation?

The 2014 season produced more FBS vs. FCS games and more duds than the 1985 slate did. But those FCS games didn't replace big games -- since everybody plays 12 games now, the duds were added on top of the good games.

While the 2014 slate produced 67 games between ranked teams and gave us conference title games and a Playoff champion, the simulation above produced only 56 such games.

Back in the day, college football was fun. Today, it's more fun.

Photos: Cary Edmondson, USA Today; Derick E. Hingle, USA Today; Joe Maiorana, USA Today; Streeter Lecka, Getty