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Carolina March: The Worldwide Leader in Imaginary Sports

Yes, I'm the last person two write up their football game for my Playoffs in Exile Project - I was working on describing the entire game in message board posts, before the post was lost to the ether. So you'll thankfully be spared me writing in the style of folks named FsckKentucky and U-da-ho.

The game itself would be a rematch of the 2004 Liberty Bowl, a game not known for its defensive prowess. You wouldn't expect the second meeting to be any different - Louisville has six games where they scored more than 40 points, and Boise State seven. The Broncos rely more heavily on the run, while the Cardinals preferred an aerial attack once their Heisman cadidate running back Michael Bush in the season opener. And to make matters worse, the weak link in Boise's defense is the secondary, and Louisville hasn't really stopped the quality running backs it faced in the West Virginia and Rutgers games.

Throw in to the mix Louisville's Lou Groza-winning kicker Art Carmody (Fess up - you only know that award from playing EA's college football game.) and a kick returner already familiar with the end zone and you'd think that would be enough to tip the scales for bluegrass rather than blue Astroturf. But there's a little thing called heart, my friend and Boise State has it. This team has been undefeated and blown it in the postseason before, and they're not about to screw up their second chance. They want that trip to Florida. Hell, they want any trip away from the Smurf Turf in Boise. Or maybe I just want them to win. Either way:

First Half

Boise State wins the toss and Louisville can't get anything started on the ground. There's one deep pass that's overthrown for the three-and-out, and the Broncos get good field position to start their first drive. They let Ian Johnson run with the ball, and he ends the drive with the games opening touchdown.

Louisville still can't get anything deep through the air, but is able to get into field goal range with short passes. The game is cut to 7-3 but the Broncos come rushing right back, literally - Johnson gets his second touchdown, and is closing in on eighty yards in two drives. 14-3, Broncos.

Louisville finally gets into the red zone on their first long pass against the secondary, but a costly George Stripling fumble gives it back to Boise. The WAC champion takes advantage, eating up a good eight minutes into the second quarter working their way down the field. Zabrabsky's beginning to get the play-action working, keeping the Cards from focusing solely on the ruunning game. He quarterback sneaks in for the Broncos' third touchdown, and it's looking like a rout at 21-3.

Until JaJuan Spillman takes another kickoff return the length of the field. The defense responds and gets Bobby Petrino the defensive stop he requests, and Louisville has enough time remaining to get another field goal. The teams head into the half at a much more respectable 21-13.

Your halftime entertainment is provided by Belle and Sebastian (MP3: Another Sunny Day), the Damnwells (MP3: I've Got You) and The Drive-By Truckers (MP3: Feb. 14). Why? Because it's my fictional football game, that's why. And I'm booking the Wrens for the Rose Bowl.

Second Half

Again Boise State can't get anything started, and it's looking like Louisville has finally got their number. The Cards get their first shot in the second half, and Brian Brohm steps up admirably, picking from five different targets on the 68-yard drive to bring the game within two. The two-point conversion is stopped by an angry defense, the game is at 21-19, and the internet is already arguing about offensive pass interference on the touchdown scoring play.

Boise needs a touchdown, and they get it on the second play from scrimmage, as Johnson breaks free a masterful 72-yard run, extending the lead to 28-19. The teams exchange field goals on their next two drives, unnotable except for a minor injury that sidelines the Broncos' running back. With six minutes left in the fourth, Brohm finds Harry Douglas in the endzone to cut the lead to 31-29. It's a ballgame, folks.

With Johnson still out, Zabrabsky has to pass his way down the field at a time when they want to chew up clock time. Louisville puts on the pressure, and with 4:43 to go it pays off - an interception and impressive run back takes the Cards to the Boise ten. Louisville pounds it in for the score three plays later, and with 3:30 (and 3 timeouts left) Louisville has a 36-31 lead, and Boise State is on the ropes.

Or, at least they are until Ian Johnson comes off the bench. Returning to the game he gallops for forty yards on a second down draw play. Skillful clock management gets them within striking distance, and with 28 seconds left on the clock, Zabrabsky finds Legedu Naanee in the back corner of the endzone - it's 38-36, and all the Broncos have to do is not give up a big play.

Placekicker Anthony Montgomery doesn't give the Cards another chance for a special teams touchdown, kicking the ball out of the endzone. Brohm has time for a last-ditch effort, bu the defense holds and Boise State comes away with the win, and a ticket to Florida to meet the other undefeated team in college football. Florida will meet Southern Cal in the other semifinal.

But of course, none of this is as exciting as the bowl system.