The dream of a playoff has turned into a reality (immediately following the 2014 season), so this realistic-but-still-hypothetical-for-another-year 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 (projected by BCSGuru), 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: #4 LSU over #4 Oregon
I’m convinced that LSU could completely handle Alabama at this point, and since Oregon’s yet to play a truly challenging opponent, it’s tough to think they’re going to be able to beat the Tigers either. As usual, a bunch of SEC teams are handed at-large bids here, with Louisville taking the “group of five” spot.
If There Was a 16 Team Playoff…
First Round (winners in italics)
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC Champ) vs. NR South Alabama Jaguars (Sun Belt champ)
#2 Oregon Ducks (Pac-12 champ) vs. NR East Carolina Pirates (C-USA champ)
#3 Clemson Tigers (ACC champ) vs. #30 Northern Illinois Huskies (MAC champ)
#4 LSU Tigers (at-large) vs. #25 Fresno State Bulldogs (MWC champ)
#5 Stanford Cardinal (at-large) vs. #12 Oklahoma Sooners (at-large)
#6 Florida State Seminoles (at-large) vs. #11 Texas A&M Aggies (at-large)
#7 Ohio State Buckeyes (B1G champ) vs. #10 Oklahoma State Cowboys (Big 12 champ)
#8 Georgia Bulldogs (at-large) vs. #9 Louisville Cardinals (AAC champ)
#1 Alabama vs. #11 Texas A&M
#2 Oregon vs. #8 Georgia
#3 Clemson vs. #7 Ohio State
#4 LSU vs. #5 Stanford
#1 Alabama vs. #4 LSU
#2 Oregon vs. #3 Clemson
#4 LSU over #2 Oregon
By and large, I think the top 11 teams in the country are head and shoulders above the rest, save maybe UCLA, which was not featured here since their projected BCS number wasn’t high enough. But within that top 11 or so, it’s decidedly pro-SEC, as evidenced by the league putting four teams in the quarterfinals. In fact, there’s a fair shot the only thing keeping us from an all-SEC title game is the way the bracket sets up. Plenty of time for that to change though, especially as these teams meet new tests and we learn more about what they’re made of.