Now that the dream of a playoff has turned into a reality (following the 2014 season), this realistic-but-still-hypothetical-for-two-years feature actually has some outside guidelines to follow: four teams, two semifinal spots and then a championship game. We currently have no clue how teams will be determined, how polls will be released, or who will put them together. So with that in mind, we’re going with the BCS rankings (courtesy of BCSGuru for teams outside of top 25), for lack of an on-hand committee to spit out a detailed list. We’ll also fill in the major bowl games also slated to be part of the playoff structure. Additionally, for our own enjoyment, you’ll find a 16-team hypothetical tournament below, too. Just because it’s too much fun not to think about.
If the Four-Team Playoff Started This Year…
National Championship: #2 Oregon over #4 Alabama
While Alabama’s fallen from the top spot, I’m still tempted to believe they’re among the two best teams in the nation, which is how they get to a championship game matchup with Oregon. With a similar attack to that of Texas A&M (who just felled ‘Bama last weekend), I have the Ducks beating the Tide for the title.
In the major bowl games, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M and Clemson were handed at-large bids (skipping over South Carolina to avoid any SEC vs. SEC games), with Florida State (ACC), Nebraska (B1G) and Louisville (“Group of Five”) receiving automatic bids.
If There Was a 16 Team Playoff…
First Round (winners in italics)
#1 Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12 champ) vs. #44 Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (Sun Belt champ)
#2 Oregon Ducks (Pac-12 champ) vs. #36 Central Florida Knights (C-USA champ)
#3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (at-large) vs. #28 Kent State Golden Flashes (MAC champ)
#4 Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC champ) vs. #26 Boise State Broncos (MWC champ)
#5 Georgia Bulldogs (at-large) vs. #20 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (WAC champ)
#6 Florida Gators (at-large) vs. #19 Louisville Cardinals (Big East champ)
#7 LSU Tigers (at-large) vs. #14 Nebraska Cornhuskers (B1G champ)
#8 Texas A&M Aggies (at-large) vs. #10 Florida State Seminoles (ACC champ)
#1 Kansas State vs. #8 Texas A&M
#2 Oregon vs. #7 LSU
#3 Notre Dame vs. #6 Florida
#4 Alabama vs. #5 Georgia
#2 Oregon vs. #8 Texas A&M
#3 Notre Dame vs. #4 Alabama
#2 Oregon over #4 Alabama
After a very “chalky” first round, the quarterfinals bring about a huge upset (A&M over K-State), which in turn sets up the best game of the bunch, in Oregon/A&M. What’s my beef with K-State? None, actually. It’s just that I believe they’d have a hard time with both Alabama (defense can limit Collin Klein, effectively shutting down State’s offense) and Texas A&M (Johnny Manziel can spread Wildcats’ defense too thin), and it just so happens those are the two teams they come up against in these projections. Again, we end up with an Oregon/Alabama championship game, which I see the Ducks winning by improving upon the gameplan used by the Aggies to beat the Crimson Tide last Saturday.
Be sure to check back on these each week, as we lay out a four- and 16-team playoff based on current BCS standings.