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 where necessary), 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: #1 Alabama over #2 Florida State
A lot’s changed here: a new national champ, new teams occupying most of the top bowls, and a bunch of very intriguing matchups, plus ACC and SEC dominance in full force. All of that will happen when half of the top 10 loses in a single week. Alabama v. Florida State is the National Championship game we’d all pay to see. FSU-Oregon is the semi-final we’d pay an incredible amount to attend. For the first time in this hypothetical setup, we have a slew of appealing games that remind us why we wanted this setup in the first place…
If There Was a 16 Team Playoff…
First Round (winners in italics)
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC champ) vs. NR Rice Owls (C-USA champ)
#2 Florida State Seminoles (ACC champ) vs. #39 UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (Sun Belt champ)
#3 Oregon Ducks (Pac-12 champ) vs. #20 Louisville Cardinals (AAC champ)
#4 Ohio State Buckeyes (B1G champ) vs. #18 Northern Illinois Huskies (MAC champ)
#5 Missouri Tigers (at-large) vs. #19 Fresno State Bulldogs (MWC champ)
#6 Stanford Cardinal (at-large) vs. #11 Auburn Tigers (at-large)
#7 Miami Hurricanes (at-large) vs. #10 Texas Tech Red Raiders (at-large)
#8 Baylor Bears (Big 12 champ) vs. #9 Clemson Tigers (at-large)
#1 Alabama vs. #9 Clemson
#2 Florida State vs. #7 Miami
#3 Oregon vs. #6 Stanford
#4 Ohio State vs. #5 Missouri
#1 Alabama vs. #5 Missouri
#2 Florida State vs. #3 Oregon
#1 Alabama over #2 Florida State
And we’re back to exactly where we were in the four-team setup. Shake-up Saturday gave us a clearer hierarchy, which made it much easier to advance chalk through literally every round. We have the top three teams — those are obvious. Then we have the next three, who are all pretty clear. And then the rest. As a result, this is fairly uneventful. Alabama and Florida State currently look like the country’s top two teams, and I’d be excited to watch that game at the end of any playoff.