If college football had a playoff, we’d probably still see a bunch of repeat games.
Every year, about this time I sit down and spend some time in creating a fantasy College Football playoff bracket. I’m a huge opponent of the current BCS format, and I’d love to see the NCAA get their act together and finally put together an adequate playoff system to determine a College Football National Champion. I’m also a realist, and realize that the universities make far too much money from the currently flawed bowl system to even consider deviating from it, but it sure would be nice for us fans to watch a playoff. Instead, year after year, we’re left with nothing but passion and conjecture on who the nations best college football team REALLY is, and often debating whether or not the two most deserving teams ended up playing in the national championship game.
When the BCS first came out, I remember creating a playoff tree just for fun. As the years went on, I simply refined it to play out fantasy matchups in what presented some outstanding games to determine a national champion. I’m not certain why I’ve never written this down on PablosPlace before, but this year I thought it would be fun to just write it down for everyone. The way that I determined my playoff bracket was very simple. First, there are going to be 16 teams in my playoff system. And I hope that this happens someday. Here’s how you get in:
1) Win your conference. There are 11 FBS Conferences in the NCAA (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big 10, Conference USA, Mid American, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, WAC, and Sun Belt). The winner of each conference gets in. Period. I like this from the standpoint that it makes the regular season count for something. Ideally, there would be a conference championship for each conference, but there simply aren’t enough teams in certain conferences for that. But I think that winning your conference should count for something, and representing your conference in the College Football Playoffs, should be the ultimate reward.
2) 5 at-large bids will be granted per the BCS ratings formula. This will give the opportunity for some of the more incredible teams to compete that simply couldn’t win their conference championship. Sometimes, the best two schools in the nation come from the same conference. I’d like to see them compete for a chance to win it all. Also, an opportunity will be created for the 4 Independent Schools (Notre Dame, BYU, Army, and Navy) and give them a chance to compete for a National Championship in the event that they actually have a decent enough team to do so. Back in the days when Notre Dame was relevant, this would have mattered. But the fact that they refuse to join a conference, that should hurt them in National Championship contention. And no…I’m not putting in any special provision that allows for the Irish to be mixed into the National Championship discussion. Become relevant again. No handouts.
So that’s the basic formula. Win your conference and you’re in. And then we take the next 5 schools based on which ones are the best rated teams in the country. The ranking system for the 16-team playoff would be based on the BCS ratings as well, so there would be a lot of ease in putting the games together. The only variable would be, where to play the games, and I think that neutral sites should be determined. Here’s the 16 teams that would have qualified for my system:
ACC Champion – Clemson (10-3 Overall Record, BCS #19)
Big 12 Champion – Oklahoma St. (11-1, BCS #3)
Big East Champion – West Virginia (9-3, BCS #23)
Big Ten Champion – Wisconsin (11-2, BCS #10)
Conference USA Champion – Southern Mississippi (11-2, BCS #22)
Mid American Champion – Northern Illinois (10-3, BCS #36)
Mountain West Champion – Texas Christian University (10-2, BCS #18)
PAC 12 Champion – Oregon (11-2, BCS #5)
SEC Champion – Louisiana State University (13-0, BCS #1)
Sun Belt Champion – Arkansas St. (10-2, BCS #34)
WAC Champion – Louisiana Tech (8-4, BCS #38)
At Large #1 – Alabama (11-1, BCS #2)
At Large #2 – Stanford (11-1, BCS #4)
At Large #3 – Arkansas (10-2, BCS #6)
At Large #4 – Boise St. (11-1, BCS #7)
At Large #5 – Kansas State (10-2, BCS #8)
So under this system, imagine this playoff scenario, and ask yourself…if you’re a college football fan, would you watch these games?
(1) LSU vs. (16) Louisiana Tech
LSU comes in as the top ranked team in the nation, and they draw an in-state matchup for the first round. Louisiana Tech isn’t exactly a roll over opponent either. After dropping 3 games in a row early in the season, and falling to 1-4 to start the year, the Bulldogs rebounded with 7 straight wins to close out the season, including a 44-0 romp of New Mexico St. in their regular season finale. They earned the outright conference championship and earned a spot in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 26th vs. TCU. That is probably a better matchup for them than the undefeated Tigers, who would likely be more than 3 touchdown favorites in the first round matchup, a game that if played, would probably see LSU trample their opponent yet again.
(2) Alabama vs. (15) Northern Illinois
Alabama would pit the nation’s top defense against the Huskies of Northern Illinois, which finished 8-1 in conference to gain a spot in the championship game. After falling down 20-0 at halftime to Ohio, Northern Illinois rebounded in the second half to win the Mid American Conference Championship with a 23-20 win. With two close losses at Central Michigan (41-48) and at Kansas (42-45), and a blowout loss at home to Wisconsin (7-49), it’s hard to imagine that Northern Illinois would be able to hang with the Crimson Tide. Alabama may have finished second in their division in the SEC, but their only loss was to the nations top team in LSU, and they needed overtime to do it. Bama should roll in this game.
(3) Oklahoma St. vs. (14) Arkansas St.
The Cowboys of Oklahoma St. seem to have the biggest beef with the BCS, getting snubbed for the National Championship game and an opportunity to play LSU for all the marbles. Their only loss was a killer, a late season overtime loss to Iowa St. But they rebounded to destroy Oklahoma in the final game of the season 44-10. Arkansas St. meanwhile ran the table in the Sun Belt conference going 8-0 en route to earning a bid in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. After opening the season with a loss to Illinois, and then dropping a game to Virginia Tech, it’s hard to see the Red Wolves hanging with OK State in this matchup.
(4) Stanford vs. (13) West Virginia
West Virginia won the Big East, and claimed a BCS Bowl despite ending the season in a 3-way tie with Cincinnati and Louisville (everyone was 5-2 in the conference). But by virtue of having the highest BCS ranking, they got the nod. Stanford had one hiccup in an otherwise very good year. They were flat at home vs. Oregon, and were bulldozed but otherwise controlled virtually every other team that they played. Andrew Luck would have a field day vs. the Mountaineers defense, and the Cardinal would roll in this one.
(5) Oregon vs. (12) Southern Mississippi
Southern Mississippi trounced undefeated Houston in the Conference USA championship, surprising most everyone and wrecking the BCS hopes of Case Keenun and company. Oregon defeated UCLA in the first every PAC 12 Championship game. Oregon would have their hands full with a pretty good rush defense in Southern Miss, but it’s hard to see the Golden Eagles containing the Ducks for an entire game. Oregon should win this game handily.
(6) Arkansas vs. (11) Clemson
Arkansas had two losses on the year, at LSU and at Alabama. But the Razorbacks were perfect in every other game on the season, and would receive a tough draw in Clemson. The Tigers dropped 3 of 4 at the end of the season (all road games), then trounced Virginia Tech in the ACC title game (the second time that they’d done so this season). This game would be one of the more interesting matchups, but I think that I’d give the edge to Arkansas here.
(7) Boise St. vs. (10) TCU
You can’t make a matchup like this up. TCU and Boise St. played a thriller on November 12th, with TCU getting the 36-35 win when a last second 39-yard field goal attempt by Boise St. missed wide right. The rematch would pit the Mountain West’s two best teams against one another again, and this time, I’d give the edge to the Broncos.
(8) Kansas St. vs. (9) Wisconsin
The Badgers lost two heartbreakers on last second plays this year, but played inspired football in defeating Michigan St. in the Big 10 Championship game. Kansas St. lost in back to back weeks to Oklahoma St. and Oklahoma for their only two losses of the season, to finish runner up in the Big 12. This would be an interesting matchup, but I think that Wisconsin running game would be a little too much for the Wildcats, and the Badgers would move on.
(1) LSU vs. (9) Wisconsin
You have to love LSU in this one. The Badgers excellent run offense vs. the LSU run defense. I doubt that Wisconsin gets 100 yards in this one. LSU, and it’s not close.
(2) Alabama vs. (7) Boise St.
Boise St. may have pulled off a miracle against Oklahoma a few years ago, but this is a VERY different Boise St. team, and Alabama is most definitely NOT Oklahoma. Alabama wins this one, and it’s pretty much a blowout.
(3) Oklahoma St. vs. (6) Arkansas
This one should be a good one, and a game that I’d like to watch. I’m going to give the edge to the Cowboy’s in this one though, more because I’d like to see them play Bama to get to the championship.
(4) Stanford vs. (5) Oregon
Ummm…have we seen this one before? I think it was either called November 12th or 53-30. Either way, I’ll take Oregon.
(1) LSU vs. (5) Oregon
Ummmmmm….Pete and Repeat are in a boat. Pete falls out. Who’s left? LSU…that’s who.
(2) Alabama vs. (3) Oklahoma St.
This one would be one to watch. The Cowboy offense versus the Alabama defense. The result? Probably a 45-10 win by Bama. They’re that much better.
(1) LSU vs. (2) Alabama
Ok, so maybe the BCS does work? Well, this year they got the two best teams in a game together. But it would be more fun if THIS was the route that they took to get there. Right?
My prediction on this one, I’ll take LSU and the over.