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. 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 Kansas State
Semifinal 2: #2 Florida vs. #3 Oregon
National Championship Game: Alabama over Oregon
Many folks — Oregon coach Chip Kelly included — are a bit perturbed to see the Ducks placed third in the initial rankings, and we sort of agree. That said, since Alabama and Florida may have to face off in the SEC Championship Game (or lose trying to get there), it’s also likely the Ducks can move up rather easily.
If There Was a 16 Team Playoff…
First Round (winners in italics)
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC champ) vs. #37 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (C-USA champ)
#2 Florida Gators (at-large) vs. #31 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (WAC champ)
#3 Oregon Ducks (Pac-12 champ) vs. #30 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (Sun Belt champ)
#4 Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12 champ) vs. #28 Michigan Wolverines (B1G champ)
#5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (at-large) vs. #27 Ohio Bobcats (MAC champ)
#6 LSU Tigers (at-large) vs. #22 Boise State Broncos (MWC champ)
#7 South Carolina Gamecocks (at-large) vs. #16 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Big East champ)
#8 Oregon State Beavers (at-large) vs. #14 Florida State Seminoles (ACC champ)
#1 Alabama vs. #14 Florida State
#2 Florida vs. #7 South Carolina
#3 Oregon vs. #6 LSU
#4 Kansas State vs. #5 Notre Dame
#1 Alabama vs. #5 Notre Dame
#2 Florida vs. #3 Oregon
#1 Alabama over #3 Oregon
Again, same title game in a 16-team format that we’d see in a four-team playoff, but definitely more entertaining. A wrench gets thrown in the gears this early, since there are so many SEC teams currently ranked in the top 10 — leaving no at-large spots outside the top eight overall. That will change with the amount of games these squads play against each other in the coming weeks, which should give us a much different view. Also of note, in the 16-team format, South Carolina’s been evaluated at their current status (without several key players due to injury). Once that fact changes, the Gamecocks would then be evaluated in that lens.
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.