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BCS as a Playoff: Would Tennessee have still won in 1998?

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

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Phil Fulmer celebrates the first BCS-era national championship (Getty Images)

Welcome to Dr. Saturday's BCS as the College Football Playoff feature. This week we'll go through each of the 16 years of the BCS and hypothesize if the national championship would have changed hands under the new College Football Playoff.

Since we don't have the benefit of a selection committee, we're taking the top four teams from the BCS standings entering bowl season. Up first is the inaugural season of the BCS.

No. 1 Tennessee (13-0)

Coach: Phil Fulmer

Notable players: QB Tee Martin, RB Jamal Lewis, RB Travis Henry, WR Peerless Price, DE Shaun Ellis, LB Al Wilson

Tennessee's season: The Volunteers scraped by a Donovan McNabb-led Syracuse team in the opening game of the season and ran the table in the SEC. Martin threw for 2,164 yards and 21 touchdowns, while Henry, Lewis and Travis Stephens ran for over 2,000 yards combined. This was also the season after Peyton Manning's departure to the NFL.

No. 2 Florida State (11-2)

Coach: Bobby Bowden

Notable players: QB Chris Weinke, RB Travis Minor, WR Peter Warrick, WR Laveranues Coles, LB Tommy Polley, DB Mario Edwards

Florida State's season: The Seminoles lost at N.C. State in the second game of the season but ran the table the rest of the way. It won the ACC over Georgia Tech by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker. However, Weinke was injured in the final game of the regular season and Marcus Outzen started the BCS Championship Game.

No. 3 Kansas State (11-2)

Coach: Bill Snyder

Notable players: QB Michael Bishop, RB Eric Hickson, WR Darnell McDonald, LB Mark Simoneau, S Jon McGraw

Kansas State's season: The Wildcats were in prime position to head to the BCS Championship Game before it lost to Texas A&M 36-33 in the Big 12 Championship. Because of the loss, the Wildcats missed out completely on a BCS Bowl. Given how good Kansas State was in 1998, it may be the biggest bowl snub in the BCS era.

No. 4 Ohio State (11-1)

Coach: John Cooper

Notable players: QB Joe Germaine, RB Michael Wiley, WR David Boston, LB Andy Katzenmoyer, CB Nate Clements, CB Antoine Winfield

Ohio State's season: The Buckeyes lost at home to Michigan State on Nov. 7, but won every other regular season game by 15 points or more. The Buckeyes lost out on the Rose Bowl to Wisconsin via a three-way-tiebreaker and went to the Sugar Bowl.

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The 1999 Fiesta Bowl: Tennessee 23, Florida State 16. After the Seminoles cut Tennessee's lead to 14-9 at halftime and a scoreless third quarter, Martin found Price for a 79-yard touchdown pass and a 20-9 lead. An Outzen scramble cut the lead to 23-16 in in the fourth quarter and Florida State had a chance to tie after Travis Henry fumbled the ball late in the game. However, Steve Johnson made an interception to seal the Fiesta Bowl for Tennessee.

The Playoff matchups: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 4 Ohio State. No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Kansas State.

Just missing out: No. 5 UCLA, No. 6 Texas A&M

The semifinals: Tennessee and Ohio State had similar resumes as both teams beat four ranked opponents in the regular season. However, it's hard to overlook that home blemish on Ohio State's schedule. Tennessee's the pick.

In the other semifinal, Florida State would fall to Kansas State. With a healthy Weinke, the Noles may have the edge. However, before losing its last two games, Kansas State's defense held eight opponents under 10 points. We don't like FSU's chances nearly as much with Outzen at quarterback.

The final: Kansas State fell to 10th in the final AP Poll after it did not play well against Purdue. But we can chalk that up to an unmotivated Wildcat team. Bishop both ran and threw for more yards than Martin on the season. And having the better quarterback is a huge advantage. It may seem like an upset now, but it wouldn't have been much of one had the two schools met in the Fiesta Bowl. Kansas State wins it.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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