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 a large majority of the individuals who will ultimately decide who’s in and who’s out.
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: #3 Oregon over #4 Stanford
Very little changes compared to last week, outside of Clemson jumping Oregon for the second spot in the overall rankings. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do the Tigers much of a favor, since the game’s at the Rose Bowl either way, giving home field advantage to the Ducks. Like last week, we see Oregon beating Stanford, too. It’s also worth noting how close Florida State was to joining fellow ACC school Clemson in the top four, and overall, just how many spots are between Alabama and the next SEC team (six until we get to Georgia).
If There Was a 16 Team Playoff…
First Round (winners in italics)
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC champ) vs. NR UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (Sun Belt champ)
#2 Clemson Tigers (ACC champ) vs. NR East Carolina Pirates (C-USA champ)
#3 Oregon Ducks (Pac-12 champ) vs. #23 Northern Illinois Huskies (MAC champ)
#4 Stanford Cardinal (at-large) vs. #22 Fresno State Bulldogs (MWC champ)
#5 Florida State Seminoles (at-large) vs. #12 Texas A&M Aggies (at-large)
#6 Ohio State Buckeyes (B1G champ) vs. #11 UCLA Bruins (at-large)
#7 Georgia Bulldogs (at-large) vs. #10 Louisville Cardinals (AAC champ)
#8 Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12 champ) vs. #9 LSU Tigers (at-large)
#1 Alabama vs. #11 UCLA
#2 Clemson vs. #9 LSU
#3 Oregon vs. #7 Georgia
#4 Stanford vs. #5 Florida State
#1 Alabama vs. #9 LSU
#3 Oregon vs. #4 Stanford
#3 Oregon over #9 LSU
Intriguing matchups all around in this setup, though at the end of the day, it’s exactly what you’d expect: SEC v. Pac-12, a matchup of the country’s two best conferences. For ACC teams Clemson and Florida State, they end up with bad draws that knock them out earlier than expected. And for LSU, they once again find themselves in a title game solely because of a lower-than-you’d-think seed. I’m on the record of not really believing in Alabama this year (as you’ll see once again above), but that doesn’t mean they don’t get a nice draw either. It did take a lot for me not to take UCLA over them, however.