Esteemed Bottom 25 readers, it is that time of year again. The time when the worst of the worst gather around the most torn-up, unsuitable-for-play football fields in the country to participate in a playoff and determine the one true champion in college football: The Bottom 25 champion.

Twelve teams comprise this year’s playoff field, but only one can emerge from the bottom of the scrum with the crown. Who will it be? We’ll get to that shortly. First, here’s a reminder of who we have playing for the coveted prize this season. With 12 teams in the field, with The Bottom Four receive first-round byes. Those four teams are:

No. 1 UMass (1-11)
No. 2 Colorado (1-11)
No. 3 South Florida (1-11)
No. 4 New Mexico (2-10)

The following eight teams square off in the First Round with the loser of each matchup advancing.

No. 5 Northwestern (1-11) at No. 12 Louisiana Tech (3-9)
No. 6 Hawaii (3-10) at No. 11 Charlotte (3-9)
No. 7 Nevada (2-10) at No. 10 FIU (4-8)
No. 8 Akron (2-10) at No. 9 Colorado State (3-9)

Now, as for an explanation of how the games are played, it’s straightforward. The Bottom 25 rankings are based on my ratings formula I use to determine how likely each of the teams is to lose a matchup with the other. I then consult the magical powers of an online number generator and ask it to pick a number between 1 and 100. This is my only route until these teams agree to square off in an actual Bottom 25 Playoff.

Let’s get to the playoff!

First Round

No. 12 Louisiana Tech defeats No. 5 Northwestern 23-16
No. 11 Charlotte defeats No. 6 Hawaii 47-42
No. 10 FIU defeats No. 7 Nevada 38-34
No. 9 Colorado State defeats No. 8 Akron 14-13

Our first round had a stunning lack of upsets as the favorites all won and knocked themselves out. This was not a surprise to me when it came to the games with Northwestern and Hawaii. Nevada and Akron were both in coin-flippish situations against FIU and Colorado State, however, but neither was able to pull off the win. Will things remain chalky in the quarterfinals?

Quarterfinals

No. 8 Akron defeats No. 1 UMass 17-3
No. 7 Nevada defeats No. 2 Colorado 48-27
No. 3 South Florida defeats No. 6 Hawaii 35-34
No. 5 Northwestern defeats No. 4 New Mexico 5-3

Of our four teams to get a bye, only South Florida could take advantage of the extra preparation, pulling off an exciting 35-34 upset over Hawaii to knock themselves out of the tournament. Elsewhere, No. 1 UMass made a strong opening statement as it looks to defend its title and win its third Bottom 25 championship of the last four years. The Minutemen will have to keep an eye on No. 2 Colorado, though, as the Buffaloes were trounced 48-27 by Nevada.

Semifinals

No. 6 Hawaii defeats No. 1 UMass 31-13
No. 4 New Mexico defeats No. 2 Colorado 17-16

No. 1 UMass falling to No. 6 Hawaii was no surprise. There’s a significant gap between the two in my ratings that gave the Minutemen a serious advantage in the random number generator, but it’s an advantage UMass spent all season earning on the field. The game between No. 2 Colorado and No. 4 New Mexico was much closer, but the Buffs held on despite a strong challenge to advance to The Bottom 25 Championship.

The Bottom 25 Championship

No 1. UMass defeats No. 2 Colorado 2-0

What more could we have asked for in our title game than a battle between No. 1 and No. 2? It was a game both teams were building toward all season, and in the end, Colorado was just a little too much for UMass to overcome. The Minutemen won 2-0 on a safety as a bad snap on a punt went soaring over the punter’s head, through the end zone and hitting Ralphie right between the eyes. This sent Ralphie on a rampage through the stadium, but after a 25-minute delay, Ralphie’s handlers got things back in order and the game was able to conclude.

Colorado becomes the first Power Five program to win The Bottom 25 championship. It’s truly a historic moment. Congratulations to the Buffaloes. Something tells me Deion Sanders has no intention of being back here next year, though.

Bottom 25 title history

2022: Colorado
2021: UMass
2020: COVID-19
2019: UMass
2018: UTEP
2017: UTEP
2016: Texas State
2015: UCF
2014: SMU
2013: Miami (Ohio)