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 Alabama over #1 Notre Dame
The SEC, as one might expect, grabs a ton of the premier bowl spots, increasing their respective payout far beyond what the other conferences would receive. In this scenario, out of all of the power conferences, the SEC receives five bids, while the only other conference with more than one is the Pac-12 (two).
If There Was a 16 Team Playoff…
First Round (winners in italics)
#1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (at-large) vs. #41 UCF Knights (C-USA champ)
#2 Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC champ) vs. #40 Arkansas State Red Wolves (Sun Belt champ)
#3 Georgia Bulldogs (at-large) vs. #26 Louisville Cardinals (Big East champ)
#4 Florida Gators (at-large) vs. #24 Utah State Aggies (WAC champ)
#5 Oregon Ducks (at-large) vs. #20 Boise State Broncos (MWC champ)
#6 Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12 champ) vs. #17 Kent State Golden Flashes (MAC champ)
#7 LSU Tigers (at-large) vs. #13 Florida State Seminoles (ACC champ)
#8 Stanford Cardinal (Pac-12 champ) vs. #12 Nebraska Cornhuskers (B1G champ)
#1 Notre Dame vs. #13 Florida State
#2 Alabama vs. #8 Stanford
#3 Georgia vs. #6 Kansas State
#4 Florida vs. #5 Oregon
#1 Notre Dame vs. #8 Stanford
#5 Oregon vs. #6 Kansas State
#5 Oregon over #8 Stanford
It’s a playoff like the one above that would captivate a national viewing audience for several weekends on end. After just one upset in the first round, all hell breaks loose in the quarterfinals, as each of the SEC teams run into their respective kryptonite. No. 1 Notre Dame also falls to Stanford the second time around, and we get to see the K-State/Oregon battle everyone’s wanted for weeks anyway. The Pac-12 rematch for the title would be another entertaining matchup, with Oregon righting the ship this time around. All of the teams in the top 10 have their respective flaws, and the deviation between them all is miniscule at best — as evidenced here. There’s no way you can tell me you’d rather see the four-team playoff at the top, as opposed to the 16-team free-for-all described directly above.
Be sure to check back on these each week, as we lay out a four- and 16-team playoff based on current BCS standings.