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Triplets U Round 2: Michigan upsets Alabama; USC outlasts LSU


Earlier this summer, we updated our NFL Triplets list, and everyone who read it agreed with the fact-based conclusions 100 percent.

As you might know, many colleges also field football teams -- the best players from which go on to the aforementioned NFL. So, with the season's kickoff drawing ever closer, it's high time we tackle the best trios of student-athletes, school by school, who are currently employed as pro football players.

Yes, like an expanded version of the CFB's fancy new bracket tournament, we've pooled all the NFL rosters to come up with the 32 best trios by university. The standards remain the same: One quarterback, one running back and one pass catcher, with more weight/credit placed on the QB than the other two spots. All players must be on active rosters -- and, for the sake of their destinies here, all are preferably good at football.

My esteemed NFL Media colleagues and I will be casting our votes to determine which teams advance. Have an opinion on who should go on and who should go home? Let us know.

-- Dave Dameshek


No. 1 Cal defeats No. 4 Utah -- 15-0

Michael Silver: Cal. Utah's strong 2004 season was one of many factors that conspired to screw Cal out of its rightful Rose Bowl. This time, Urban Meyer (and not Jeff Tedford) feels the pain, early and often.

Daniel Jeremiah: Cal. The Golden Bears cruise to another easy W.

Gil Brandt: Cal. I like Alex Smith, but I'll go with the quarterback who was drafted 23 picks after the former Ute.

Bucky Brooks: Cal. The Bears' trio poses too many problems for defenses with their collective speed, explosiveness and versatility. With Rogers at the controls, the Bears might blow up scoreboards across the country.

Marc Sessler: Cal. The fun is over for Matthew Asiata. Cal could win this snoozer with DeSean staying home to continue his screen adaptation of Baudrillard's "Simulacra and Simulation."

Colleen Wolfe: Cal. Utah is so pedestrian. Let's pretend this fictitious matchup is in the NGSCL (National Girl Scout Cookie League). There's never a time Trefoils beat Thin Mints.

Charles Davis: Cal. Despite some big plays from Utah that keep things tight, Cal wins on the strength of Marshawn Lynch's body-blow runs, and a series of Rodgers-to-Jackson bell-ringers.

Dave Dameshek: Cal. Decisive advantages at QB and RB for Cal. Just know this has nothing to do with you, Steve Smith. Please don't get angry at me. I have no ice.

Dan Hanzus: Cal.Matt Asiata is the DUFF of this six-pack. And he will be directly responsible for Utah's shortcomings in the most important matchup in school history. Cal cruises.

Charley Casserly: Cal. This one just isn't close. Rodgers and Lynch are too much for Utah to overcome.

Elliot Harrison: Cal. Beast Mode: 30 carries, 130 yards, 3 TDs. Matt Asiata: 3 carries, 13 yards, 3 TD.

Chase Goodbread: Cal. Rodgers and Lynch carry the Bears to victory with relative ease.

Conor Orr: Cal. Oh, I see what the committee did here. (2005 draft, anyone?) Still -- not even close! Cal moves on.

Mike Huguenin: Cal. Easily.

Marcas Grant: Cal. Smith topped Rodgers in the '05 draft. Rodgers gets his revenge.

No. 2 Stanford defeats No. 3 Texas A&M -- 10-5

Michael Silver: Stanford. In front of all 432 of its mildly amused fans, the Cardinal ekes out a victory over the Aggies before a blue-and-gold-wearing Douglas C. Neidermeyer proclaims, "Assume the position."

Daniel Jeremiah: Texas A&M.Mike Evans is the difference in a very close matchup.

Gil Brandt: Texas A&M. Luck's the best, but Tannehill's a good quarterback with a better supporting cast.

Bucky Brooks: Texas A&M.Andrew Luck is unquestionably the best player on the field, but the Aggies' skill players give them nod in this battle. Evans, in particular, is an elite level talent with the potential to deliver game-changing plays. Given Evans' play-making ability and Michael's explosiveness, the Aggies get the narrow win.

Marc Sessler: Stanford. Gerhart brings a disturbing amount of dead weight to the Stanford roster, but Luck won't need much from the underwhelming/overpaid "short-yardage" back to finish off the Manziel-free Aggies.

Colleen Wolfe: Texas A&M.Mike Evans had double-digit touchdowns last year with "quarterbacks" Josh McCown and Mike Glennon. Pair him with Ryan Tannehill for a magical game, spawning the classic direct-to-DVD special, "The Luck Stops Here."

Charles Davis: Stanford. This is a very close game, but surprise, surprise (and it shouldn't be): Andrew Luck wins with a run late in the game. His athleticism gets consistently underrated, and teams consistently get beat by it.

Dave Dameshek: Stanford. On one hand, we haven't seen the best of (an already good) Tannehill yet. On the other hand, we haven't seen the best of (an also good) Baldwin. RBs are a wash ... so guess we'll go with the Cardinal.

Dan Hanzus: Stanford.Johnny Manziel still can't believe he's not representing the Aggies. Andrew Luck will take advantage of this distraction and even make Toby Gerhart look good in the process.

Charley Casserly: Stanford. Close call, but Luck has carried Indy on his shoulders the last three years. He does it here, too.

Elliot Harrison: Stanford. It's tight, but I'm going with Teen Wolf, Gerhart and Dougie Fresh.

Chase Goodbread: Stanford. Luck is -- by far -- the biggest star of the six players here.

Conor Orr: Stanford. Luck dismantles A&M, sending the Aggies -- arguably the best team to lose in this tournament so far -- packing.

Mike Huguenin: Texas A&M. Yes, Luck over Tannehill ... but Evans-Michael trumps Baldwin-Gerhart by a wide margin.

Marcas Grant: Stanford. Can't have Aggies without a Farm. Stanford prevails.


No. 1 Tennessee defeats No. 5 Florida State -- 15-0

Michael Silver: Tennessee. There won't be a whole lot of Tomahawk chopping on this night; Vols in a rout.

Daniel Jeremiah: Tennessee. FSU keeps it close, but the old vets from Tennessee hold on.

Gil Brandt: Tennessee. Having a 2-1 advantage in first-round picks can't save the 'Noles -- especially not when the Vols' first-rounder is Peyton Manning.

Bucky Brooks: Tennessee. It's hard to bet against Manning when he is surrounded by a solid supporting cast. Foster and Witten are arguably two of the best players at their respective positions. Thus, the Vols easily advance to the next round.

Marc Sessler: Tennessee. At Manning's urging, Foster stays off his overly precious Twitter account long enough to help the Vols take one more step toward the final round of this completely made-up sports tournament.

Colleen Wolfe: Tennessee.Peyton Manning throws seven touchdown passes in the first quarter -- Florida State really needs to work on those turnovers -- allowing the Vols to run Arian Foster on every remaining down.

Charles Davis: Tennessee.Arian Foster's ability to break down the defense with runs and catches out of the backfield powers the Vols to victory. And Jason Witten in the red zone is money.

Dave Dameshek: Tennessee. In real life, Peyton the Vol would struggle against a high-end Florida-based team ... But let's give the trio of elderly Rocky Toppers the nod.

Dan Hanzus: Tennessee.Peyton Manning and Jason Witten would have been best friends in another life. Perhaps the Triplets U Tourney will serve as their jumping-off point in a beautiful new relationship. Jameis Winston & Co. are overmatched here.

Charley Casserly: Tennessee. UT's three Pro Bowlers are too much for the inexperienced FSU trio.

Elliot Harrison: Tennessee. Vols in a landslide. Witten over Peyton in a Round 2 Heisman landslide.

Chase Goodbread: Tennessee. Production easily wins over potential in this matchup.

Conor Orr: Tennessee. A dominant Vols team rolls over a rookie quarterback no one has seen play in the NFL yet.

Mike Huguenin: Tennessee. UT beat FSU in the first-ever BCS title game (coincidentally, a year after Manning left school), and the Vols do so here, too.

Marcas Grant: Tennessee. Vols making a strong case as the best team in the tourney.

No. 2 USC defeats No. 3 LSU -- 9-6

Michael Silver: USC. Another big win for the Conference of Champions, though not a single USC fan feels compelled to chant "Pac-12" in response.

Daniel Jeremiah: USC. Another close one, but the QB play gives SC the win.

Gil Brandt: USC. The Tigers are running a potent trio out there, but don't forget that Palmer is a former first overall pick. If you have a quarterback with that kind of pedigree, you're in pretty good shape.

Bucky Brooks: USC. The Palmer-Bush connection poses problems for opponents on the perimeter. The shifty running back is a threat to score from anywhere on the field as a runner-receiver. Agholor isn't as accomplished as OBJ, but he is an explosive threat in his own right. The Trojans have too much talent to fall short in this matchup.

Marc Sessler: LSU. Mettenberger makes the most of the only meaningful snaps he'll see all season.

Colleen Wolfe: LSU.Zach Mettenberger becomes Zettenberger! with the help of Odell Beckham Jr. And unlike USC, LSU can actually run the ball.

Charles Davis: USC. The Tigers pose a major threat, but the Men of Troy Fight On. (Random aside: Remember college Reggie Bush? That dude was unstoppable.)

Dave Dameshek: LSU. Palmer's got the leg up on Zachenberger, but Hill and Beckham could beat Bush and Agholor one-handed.

Dan Hanzus: USC. This is a toss-up, but go with the better quarterback. LSU needs JaMarcus Russell to find a job.

Charley Casserly: USC. Hill and Beckham will be tough to beat, but Palmer is coming off a season in which he went 6-0 as a starter in Arizona. USC beats LSU.

Elliot Harrison: LSU. Going with Team Selfie. Hill over Bush, Beckham over the kid.

Chase Goodbread: LSU. Tough call here, but edge to the Tigers; Hill and Beckham are stars in the making.

Conor Orr: LSU. An angry Mettenberger flashes his potential, connects with Beckham and rolls over USC.

Mike Huguenin: USC. In a battle of three-letter schools, it's USC.

Marcas Grant: USC. The longevity of Palmer and Bush push the Trojans past LSU.


No. 1 Georgia defeats No. 4 Pittsburgh -- 13-2

Michael Silver: Georgia. You lost me at "Tom Savage."

Daniel Jeremiah: Georgia. The Dawgs roll to an easy victory and look like they could win the whole thing.

Gil Brandt: Georgia. Stafford has thrown for 4,700 yards and nearly 30 touchdowns per season over the past four seasons -- and he makes the difference in this matchup.

Bucky Brooks: Georgia.Matthew Stafford is the deciding factor in this matchup. The strong-armed passer might be a little careless with the ball, but he can make every throw in the book and that's enough to make a difference in a tight contest.

Marc Sessler: Georgia.Tom Savage's glorious joyride comes to an end after Georgia unleashes a 77-3 A-bomb on Pitt.

Colleen Wolfe: Georgia. Pittsburgh, it's been real. That Stafford kid did a good job getting you the ball, but LeSean McCoy can't carry the offense on his elusive back. He wants a trade.

Charles Davis: Georgia. The difference in this game is under center. Matthew Stafford's rifle ultimately wins things for the Georgia Bulldogs, despite some acrobatics from Pitt's McCoy and Fitzgerald.

Dave Dameshek: Georgia. 53-year-old Dan Marino would be a better QB option for Pitt (and some of these other teams, too).

Dan Hanzus: Georgia. I have a rule when making selections in a fake tournament: Always pick against the side starting Tom Savage at quarterback. This has taken me far in life.

Charley Casserly: Georgia. UGA has the obvious edge at quarterback, but I'm also banking on a healthy Todd Gurley.

Elliot Harrison: Georgia. Close call here, but I'm rolling with youth at the skill positions.

Chase Goodbread: Pittsburgh. McCoy and Fitzgerald have a much longer résumé than Gurley and Green.

Conor Orr: Georgia.Matthew Stafford. No question. This team is beastly.

Mike Huguenin: Pittsburgh. Essentially, it's Stafford-Green vs. McCoy-Fitzgerald. Pitt wins.

Marcas Grant: Georgia.Panthers put up a fight, but Stafford is the difference.

No. 2 Oklahoma defeats No. 6 Arizona -- 13-2

Michael Silver: Oklahoma. As Bradford defeats Foles, Chip Kelly does a little dance in his office.

Daniel Jeremiah: Arizona. 'Zona pulls the upset behind a huge effort from Gronk.

Gil Brandt: Oklahoma. Bradford and Peterson team up to top the Wildcats in a close one.

Bucky Brooks: Arizona.The Wildcats are the pick in this battle based on the Foles-Gronkowski connection. The savvy QB is a solid decision-maker with decent arm talent. With Gronkowski capable of expanding the strike zone, Foles' game should go to another level and give the Wildcats enough to sneak into the next round.

Marc Sessler: Oklahoma. Arizona keeps it close until an angry alien spacecraft of Pleiadian visitors beams up Foles, Carey and Gronk. Game over.

Colleen Wolfe: Oklahoma.Sam Bradford has an Adrian Peterson-like ACL recovery and the two join bionic forces to methodically dismantle Arizona. Gronk charters a jet to Ibiza moments after the loss.

Charles Davis: Oklahoma. Gronk will be Gronk and he will make plays. Also, Ka'Deem Carey is an underrated RB. But in th end, OU's firepower is simply too much. Adrian Peterson!

Dave Dameshek: Oklahoma. Bradford and Foles are a wash. So are Peterson and Gronk. That means this one comes down to a classic Stills-v.-Carey showdown. What else is new?

Dan Hanzus: Oklahoma. The Chip Kelly Bowl! "All Day" becomes a Triplets Tourney MVP favorite with a dominant performance. Sooners roll, Gronk doesn't care.

Charley Casserly: Oklahoma. Close matchup, but Bradford and Peterson provide OU with enough of an edge to overcome the disadvantage at pass catcher (Gronk's clearly far more impactful than Stills).

Elliot Harrison: Oklahoma. This just in: Bob Stoops traded Bradford for Foles. Or not. OU in OT.

Chase Goodbread: Oklahoma. Peterson's decorated career speaks loudest when it comes to the six players in this matchup.

Conor Orr: Oklahoma. Does Bradford get to run Chip Kelly's offense during this fictional tournament? Whatever. Oklahoma wins.

Mike Huguenin: Oklahoma. But it's close. Peterson's the trump card.

Marcas Grant: Oklahoma. Stills waters run deep enough to sink the Wildcats' chances.


No. 1 Wisconsin defeats No. 5 Central Florida -- 12-3

Michael Silver: Wisconsin. After scrambling for the winning touchdown, Wilson raises his arms and screams, "NOW PAY ME!"

Daniel Jeremiah: Wisconsin. The Badgers have a huge ground-game advantage, which helps them pull this out.

Gil Brandt: Wisconsin. Wilson leads the way to victory over the Knights and their considerably less-accomplished signal-caller.

Bucky Brooks: Wisconsin.The exceptional intangibles displayed by Wilson and Watt make it hard to pick against them in a big game. Wilson is one of the best young leaders at the position. He commands the huddle and his teammates appear to follow his lead. Watt is not a polished offensive threat, but he makes enough plays as a pass-catcher to help the Badgers overtake the Golden Knights.

Marc Sessler: Wisconsin. "On a day when you're tired, it's important to just say good morning to everyone so they're kind of aware that it's gonna be a good day. Jamie Lee Curtis told me that." -- Lindsay Lohan

Colleen Wolfe: Wisconsin.Brandon Marshall had eight touchdowns in 2014; J.J. Watt had five. Together Watt and Wilson blaze a path of destruction before Blake and Brandon.

Charles Davis: Wisconsin.Russell Wilson just won't allow his team to lose.

Dave Dameshek: Central Florida.Brandon Marshall would be a better pass rusher than Watt is a pass catcher. Is that relevant here? No. Anyhoo, I'm taking UCF.

Dan Hanzus: Central Florida.As stated previously, I have disqualified Wisconsin for illegal Watt insertion. Congrats on your good luck, UCF.

Charley Casserly: Wisconsin. The Badgers get the edge by virtue of Wilson/Gordon over Bortles/Murray -- but Watt's limitations as a pass catcher will hurt them at some point.

Elliot Harrison: Wisconsin. Another close game, but the Badgers win late when Wilson decides to hand off to Gordon on second-and-goal.

Chase Goodbread: Wisconsin. Even if Watt's part-time TE role represents a cheat here, Badgers still prevail.

Conor Orr: Central Florida.Russell Wilson is distracted by a lack of contract clarity, and Blake Bortles makes the leap thanks to a renaissance performance from Brandon Marshall.

Mike Huguenin: Wisconsin. Marshall is solid and Bortles might be good someday, but Watt is a superstar and Wilson's not far behind.

Marcas Grant: Wisconsin. Tangling with badgers is a bad idea. This group is no exception.

No. 3 Michigan defeats No. 2 Alabama -- 9-6

Michael Silver: Michigan. Brady could defeat McCarron with Rich Eisen and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross as his targets. Bill Belichick, secretly rooting for his buddy Nick Saban, is not feeling rosy.

Daniel Jeremiah: Michigan.Tom Brady spearheads an upset (... if you want to call it that).

Gil Brandt: Alabama. This one was hard for me. I was at that 2012 game in Dallas, and I think the Tide will walk away victorious again, dealing a rare loss to Brady.

Bucky Brooks: Alabama.Tom Brady does more with less than any other QB in the game. However, the Crimson Tide have better weapons on the perimeter, and that's enough to help AJ McCarron get to the winner's circle in this nail-biter. Jones and Lacy are terrific clutch players -- and that's the difference.

Marc Sessler: Michigan. Tommy pulls off the upset and celebrates by taking Denard and Funchess on a horse-riding tour through Austria's section of the Bohemian Forest. Along the way, they sample local tree fruits and co-author an article for The Wall Street Journal entitled "Trends in Microfinance During Cambodia's Viet Cong Era of the Early 1970s."

Colleen Wolfe: Michigan. This comes down to a team with a solid run game and no quarterback against an elite quarterback with no run game. Wake me up when AJ McCarron gets within 20 points of Tom Brady.

Charles Davis: Alabama.Tom Brady does not lose too many games, but he does drop this one. Julio Jones is Secretariat and he gallops for huge, game-winning plays.

Dave Dameshek: Michigan.Tom Brady inflates the values of Shoelace and Funchess.

Dan Hanzus: Michigan.Tom Brady or AJ McCarron. This one is tough. I'm kidding. Tom Brady is way better at football than the envy of Brent Musburger.

Charley Casserly: Alabama.Tom Brady doesn't win every playoff game. McCarron just has to be efficient, given the pronounced advantage Alabama has at the two other positions.

Elliot Harrison: Alabama. Controversy ensues following the Tide victory, as McCarron is accused of having footballs tattooed.

Chase Goodbread: Michigan. Brady is UM's lone matchup edge, but it's a huge one.

Conor Orr: Michigan.Tom Brady rolls. How is Michigan a three seed?

Mike Huguenin: Michigan. Basically, it's Brady (by himself) vs. Lacy/Jones. I'll go Brady.

Marcas Grant: Alabama. Not even Brady can stem the Tide and its depth.

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