For those who may not remember 2011′s version of this feature, we basically seeded the conference champions (mostly based on BCS rankings) and then inserted the five best at-large teams, irregardless of conference affiliation. This 16-team playoff was the result of a pipedream and the wishful thinking that we’d one day see a college football playoff system put in place by conference presidents.
Now that the dream of a playoff has turned into a reality (following the 2014 season), this realistic-but-still-hypothetical-for-two-years 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 lack of an on-hand committee to spit out a detailed list. Also, for our own enjoyment, you’ll find a 16-team hypothetical tournament below. Just because it’s too much fun not to think about.
If the Four-Team Playoff Started This Year…
Semifinal 1: #1 Alabama vs. #4 West Virginia
Semifinal 2: #2 Oregon vs. #3 South Carolina
National Championship Game: Alabama over Oregon
If There Was a 16 Team Playoff…
First Round (winners in italics)
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC champ) vs. #47 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (C-USA champ)
#2 Oregon Ducks (Pac-12 champ) vs. #39 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (Sun Belt champ)
#3 South Carolina Gamecocks (at-large) vs. #30 Ohio Bobcats (MAC champ)
#4 West Virginia Mountaineers (Big 12 champ) vs. #27 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (WAC champ)
#5 Florida Gators (at-large) vs. #26 Michigan State Spartans (B1G champ)
#6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (at-large) vs. #23 Boise State Broncos (MWC champ)
#7 Kansas State Wildcats (at-large) vs. #18 Louisville Cardinals (Big East champ)
#8 LSU Tigers (at-large) vs. #15 Florid State Seminoles (ACC champ)
#1 Alabama vs. #15 Florida State
#2 Oregon vs. #7 Kansas State
#3 South Carolina vs. #6 Notre Dame
#4 West Virginia vs. #5 Florida
#1 Alabama vs. #7 Kansas State
#3 South Carolina vs. #4 West Virginia
#1 Alabama over #4 West Virginia
In this hypothetical scenario, we get the national title game we’d probably arrive at anyway this year, if both teams remained undefeated. If there were a playoff starting this week, this great game would unfortunately be relegated to a semifinal matchup instead. West Virginia, Oregon and Kansas State all present interesting questions in the bracket as well, as you start to wonder whether their elite offenses could continue to put up points, or if they’d revert to an NFL-style playoff with defenses taking over.
Be sure to check back on these each week, as we lay out a four- and 16-team playoff based on current BCS standings/projected standings.