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.
Charley Casserly: Cal. This one just isn't close. Rodgers and Lynch are too much for Utah to overcome.
No. 2 Stanford defeats No. 3 Texas A&M -- 10-5
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.
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.
Charley Casserly: Stanford. Close call, but Luck has carried Indy on his shoulders the last three years. He does it here, too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No. 1 Georgia defeats No. 4 Pittsburgh -- 13-2
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.
Dave Dameshek: Georgia. 53-year-old Dan Marino would be a better QB option for Pitt (and some of these other teams, too).
No. 2 Oklahoma defeats No. 6 Arizona -- 13-2
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.
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?
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).
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.
No. 1 Wisconsin defeats No. 5 Central Florida -- 12-3
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.
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.
Mike Huguenin: Wisconsin. Marshall is solid and Bortles might be good someday, but Watt is a superstar and Wilson's not far behind.
No. 3 Michigan defeats No. 2 Alabama -- 9-6
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."
Elliot Harrison: Alabama. Controversy ensues following the Tide victory, as McCarron is accused of having footballs tattooed.