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2010 College Football Postseason: What It Could Be…

 

Article by Terry Plucknett

Posted - 12/23/10

 

It’s a great time of year.  It’s Christmas time, the Oscar movies are gracing theatres with their presence, award nominees are being released, the NFL regular season is coming to a close, and college football bowls are starting.  I am so glad I get two weeks off every year at this time just to keep track of it all.  One thing that is always fun to keep track of is the college football postseason.  Not only are there the 35 bowls to watch this year, but there is always the controversy that comes with the BCS system.  So I decided to take a little time out from debating whether Hailee Steinfeld should be placed as lead or supporting, and talk about what this whole BCS mess could look like.

This football season has brought about probably the fewest questions as to who should be playing for the national championship in several years.  However, even with that there are still questions being raised as to the strength of the system.  I have a problem with the system that very few people are raising.  Going into this season, out of the 120 schools in the FBS, only about a dozen of them had a chance to win the national championship.  There has even been an undefeated SEC team left out of the national championship in the past.  That means going into the every season, 90% of the college football teams in the country know they have absolutely no shot at the top prize.  Look at March Madness and college basketball.  What makes that tournament the greatest sporting event every year is the idea that any team in the nation has a shot to win the championship by them giving each conference champion an automatic spot in the tournament.  Now a lot of people are saying there needs to be a tournament in college football, like an “and 1” scenario where 2nd and 3rd play with the winner playing the 1st place team for the championship.  Also, there is talk of a 4 or 8 team bracket set up.  I find all three of these scenarios unsatisfactory for the reason I said above.  A majority of college football will still not have a shot at the national championship.  So here is what I am proposing…

(Before I propose it, this is not my original idea.  I found this idea several years ago on the internet.  I loved it and have run with it.)

Every conference in the FBS will have an automatic qualifier into a 16 team tournament.  There are 11 conferences.  The other 5 teams in the tournament will be determined by the highest ranked non-conference champ.  This could be determined by the current BCS standings.  These 16 teams would be seeded according to BCS standings.  As what happens in March Madness, the top ranked teams end up playing against a lower level conference champ (which could lead to some fun March Madness-esque upsets) while the middle teams will have very even matchups in the opening rounds.

There have been a lot of criticisms of potential playoff systems, but I do not think any of them stand up to this system.  Some say the regular season would mean less.  I argue the opposite.  Just like the wild card system does for the NFL and MLB, this system would make the end of the regular season mean more to more teams.  This year in the last 3 weeks or so, all anyone cared about is what Auburn and Oregon did because if they won, it didn’t matter what anyone else did.  This would open it up to a larger group.  The lowest “wild card” team this year would have only had 2 losses, so it would still be pretty competitive.  The conference championships would mean even more than before because now it would be a place in the playoff on the line instead of a BCS game, or if you’re in a smaller conference, playoff instead of the Little Caesars Bowl.  Another argument is disrupting the players’ finals weeks and holiday break.  First, they don’t seem to care about disrupting finals weeks and Spring Breaks for March Madness.  Second, the tournament I am suggesting would only last as long as the current bowl season.  So that argument is pointless as well.  The third argument is that a playoff would force the loss of the bowl system.  My response to that is not necessarily.  There are 35 bowls this year involving 70 college football teams.  The playoff would only involve 16 of those teams.  Also, the teams that lose in the first round could then be placed in a New Year’s Day bowl game with the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game using the BCS bowls for their games.  The last argument against the playoff system is the travel time for all the teams.  Again, this is not an issue for March Madness which plays every game on a neutral court which forces every team and every fan base to travel.  However, this could also be solved by the higher ranked team hosting the playoff game the first round with bowl games hosting the rest like I said.

Some advantages to this are, like was said, everyone has a shot at the title at the start of the year.  This makes every game every team plays significant.  Also, it eliminates the dreaded layoff.  Sometimes, teams have up to 2 months between their last regular season game and their bowl game which leads to rusty play and not a true showcase of the quality of the team.  This system would make the longest layoff a team could have 2 weeks.

So now let’s play out a “what if” scenario.  What if this actually happened this year?  What would it look like?  Here is what our college football postseason could look like… (Cue the Wayne’s World dream music)

FIRST ROUND

Friday, December 17

Two games Friday night to kick off the playoff.

 

# 11 LSU (10-2) at # 6 Ohio St. (11-1) – 7ET/4PT

LSU sneaks into the tournament as the last wild card team to make the field.  They travel to Columbus for an epic showdown with another powerhouse program in Ohio St., who tied for the Big 10 title but lost the tiebreaker for the automatic qualifier (BCS ranking) so they enter as a wild card.  Les Miles facing off against Jim Tressell.  LSU didn’t always win pretty this year, but they always seemed to win.  On the other hand, Ohio St. had a typical Ohio St. season: traditional football, at times overrated, but not to be overlooked.  Tyrelle Pryor is the difference maker here.  Ohio St. wins and advances 24-13.

 

# 13 Central Florida (10-3) at # 4 Stanford (11-1) – 10ET/7PT

Central Florida is one of those teams that under normal circumstances would have no shot at competing for the national championship.  However, with winning the Conference USA championship, they make it into the bracket.  They are no scrub either.  Their 3 losses were close games lost to quality teams, and they ended the year in the top 25.  They were ranked higher than the Big East champion who received an automatic BCS bid.  Stanford on the other hand only lost the one game to Oregon all year.  They have who is projected to be the top pick in the NFL Draft in Andrew Luck and one of the most sought after coaches in Jim Harbaugh.  UCF will come out firing, but the skill of Stanford and home crowd will prevail.  It will be close for awhile, but Stanford will pull it out and advance 38-17.

 

Saturday, December 18

This becomes the biggest day of college football of the year in a style that will rival the first few days of March Madness.  The last 6 games of the first round are played with the potential for some major upsets.

 

# 12 Virginia Tech (11-2) at # 5 Wisconsin (11-1) – 12ET/9PT

Virginia Tech started off the year slow with losses to Boise St. and James Madison, but never lost again on their way to an ACC championship.  Wisconsin wins the three-way tiebreaker for the Big 10 championship with the highest BCS ranking.  Wisconsin is strong, but so is Virginia Tech.  This is the matchup in March Madness, and I think there will be one here.  Virginia Tech upsets Wisconsin in Madison to advance 20-17.

 

# 10 Boise St. (11-1) at # 7 Oklahoma (11-2) – 1ET/10PT

Boise St. gets lucky by winning the tiebreaker for WAC champion by having a higher BCS ranking than Nevada and Hawaii, and without a couple missed chip shots they wouldn’t need to win a tiebreaker and would be hosting the first round game on the blue turf.  Oklahoma comes in to the playoffs as the Big 12 champion after defeating Nebraska.  Oklahoma has been inconsistent throughout the year, while Boise St. has dominated everyone placed before them except Virginia Tech and Nevada, the best two teams they played all year, and like I said, should be undefeated.  Boise St. goes in to Norman and does what they did in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and knocks off the Sooners to advance 28-24.

 

# 16 Florida International (6-6) at # 1 Auburn (13-0) – 3:30ET/12:30PT

Florida International comes out of the Sun Belt Conference as champion with a .500 record, but 0-4 record in a rough non-conference schedule.  Auburn comes in as the top seed and SEC champion.  The teams that dominated FIU in non-conference were nowhere near as talented as Auburn, and they will roll in the biggest mismatch in the first round to advance 52-10.

 

# 14 Connecticut (8-4) vs. # 3 Texas Christian (12-0) – 4:30 ET/1:30PT

Connecticut comes out of the Big East, which was disappointing this year overall in an NFC West sort of way, however they were champs and consequently get the bid.  TCU wins the Mountain West and gets rewarded with this matchup against their future conference foe when TCU moves to the Big East in 2012.  Connecticut is a scrappy team that does what they can to be in every game while TCU has been dominant throughout the year.  The dominance wins out over the scrappiness as TCU overcomes a first half surge from UConn and advances 31-10.

 

# 15 Miami (OH) (9-4) at # 2 Oregon (12-0) – 7ET/4PT

Miami (OH) goes from one of the worst teams in the nation last year to MAC champions this year.  As their reward, they get to travel to one of the most hostile environments in the nation in Eugene to play the undefeated Pac-10 champs.  Whenever Miami (OH) faced a major conference team they were dominated, and Oregon dominated more times than not.  The Ducks will run the Redhawks ragged like they have done with everyone else this year and win easily to advance 45-20.

 

# 9 Michigan St. (11-1) at # 8 Arkansas (10-2) – 7:30ET/4:30PT

Michigan St. makes the field as a wild card as the lowest of the 3 teams tied at the top of the Big 10 while Arkansas is the third team to make it from the SEC losing two tough games to then number one Alabama and current number one Auburn.  As this is the 8-9 matchup, it should be the best matchup, and it does not disappoint.  As the game plays out, the experience of Arkansas’s Ryan Mallett beats out the inexperience of Michigan St.’s Kirk Cousins to advance 23-17.

 

This round is left with Florida International, Michigan St., Central Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut, LSU, Miami (OH), and Oklahoma eliminated.  These 8 teams would then fill in 8 spots in New Year’s Day bowl games that were left vacant.  Florida International and Miami (OH) would play in the Ticketcity Bowl, Michigan St. would play LSU in the Capital One Bowl, Wisconsin would play Oklahoma in the Outback Bowl, and Central Florida would play Connecticut in the Gator Bowl.

The next round is the start of neutral sites for the games.  These playoff games will be played as the traditional bowl games in these sites.  Combining the quarterfinals, semifinals, and championship, there are seven bowl games that will be used for the playoff.  We start with the BCS bowls: the Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta Bowls.  Then we add the three biggest non-BCS bowl games to the rotation: the Cotton, Chick-fil-A (formerly Peach), and Holiday Bowls.  These seven locales (Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami, Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta, and San Diego) would cycle through who gets which game.  For example, Phoenix would have the championship this year, with next year Miami, then New Orleans, etc.  Four of the bowls will be designated as the quarterfinal sites, with the matchup decided by proximity to the higher ranked teams.

QUARTERFINALS 

Yes, this year would require games on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  However, there are always bowl games on these days anyways so it shouldn’t be a problem.  Here is where it gets interesting.

 

Friday, December 24

Holiday Bowl – San Diego, CA

# 10 Boise St. vs. # 2 Oregon – 8ET/5PT

Here we have a rematch of one of the most intriguing games of last season.  Oregon lost the game (as well as their starting running back due to a sucker punch) on the blue turf last year, but this year’s Ducks are better than last year.  However, so are the Broncos.  Boise St. would be the toughest defense that the Ducks would play all year, and they would hold the high-flying Oregon offense to a low point total like they did last year.  This would force the Ducks to rely on their defense to stop Kellen Moore, which no defense has been able to do yet in his career.  Because of these factors, the Broncos knock off the Ducks in a shocker 24-13.

 

Saturday, December 25

The start of a new Christmas tradition: a triple-header of insane quarterfinal matchups.

Cotton Bowl – Arlington, TX

# 6 Ohio St. vs. # 3 Texas Christian – 12ET/9PT

As I said before, Ohio St. has been inconsistent throughout the year while TCU has been a model of consistent dominance.  However, this will be a intriguing test of just how strong the non-BCS conference teams are.  It will be a very competitive and physical game, but in the end TCU will emerge victorious, partially because they will almost be playing a home game in Texas.  TCU advances 13-6.

 

Chick-Fil-A Bowl – Atlanta, GA

# 8 Arkansas vs. # 1 Auburn – 4ET/1PT

A rematch from earlier in the season, we have a showcase of two of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett.  However, just like in the first matchup, Cam Newton will prevail in a high-flying shootout.  Auburn advances 41-35.

 

Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA

# 12 Virginia Tech vs. # 4 Stanford – 8ET/5PT

Possibly the two hottest teams that are not undefeated in the country, Stanford and Virginia Tech brings about an intriguing matchup (which is actually the real-life Orange Bowl matchup this year).  Stanford is rolling, and Andrew Luck is having a legendary season, but Tyrod Taylor and Virginia Tech are rolling even better.  The Hokies go to the West Coast and shock the Cardinal in the battle of the unstoppable teams.  Virginia Tech advances 24-20.

 

This round sends home Oregon, Ohio St., Arkansas, and Stanford.  For these four teams, their seasons are over, however they still have had the opportunity to play in a bowl game as they would have done without the playoff.  In other words, the schools still get their paycheck.

 

SEMIFINALS

One day.  Two games to decide the National Championship matchup.  This one happens to fall on New Year’s Day which means other bowl games will be on, and also will add to one of the best sporting days of the year.

 

Saturday, January 1

Sugar Bowl – New Orleans, LA

# 10 Boise St. vs. # 3 Texas Christian – 4ET/1PT

Why is it that these two teams always end up playing each other?  They will play next year also as they will be conference foes in the Mountain West.  Two years ago, TCU won.  Last year, Boise St. won.  They are very similar teams; both fighting for that extra level of respect.  Now they are getting in each other’s way.  One magical run has to come to an end, and I think it will be TCU’s.  Boise St. is just too good and can fire on all cylinders like few teams can.  It will be close, but the Broncos grind it out and advance to the championship 17-16.

 

Orange Bowl – Miami, FL

# 12 Virginia Tech vs. # 1 Auburn – 8ET/5PT

Virginia Tech has had a magical run since going 0-2 to start the season.  However, it has to come to an end sometime.  The Auburn Tigers provide that opportunity.  The Hokies magical run ends here as the Tigers roll on to the National Championship 31-20.

 

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Saturday, January 8

Fiesta Bowl – Glendale, AZ

# 10 Boise St. vs. # 1 Auburn – 8ET/5PT

What a perfect place for Boise St. to get their shot at the National Championship shot; the place where they were put on the map with their first BCS bowl game.  And what a chance it is.  Auburn has the best player, has gone through what is considered the toughest top to bottom conference in the nation, and has made their way through this gauntlet of a playoff just like Boise did.  All year the Broncos have shown to be the most balanced team in the nation despite a slight lapse in accuracy for their kicker in a 15 minute span.  Auburn comes in a little overly-confident and struggles to stop Boise St.’s high-flying offense with their sub-par defense.  Cam Newton can only do so much on his own against a stout Bronco defense, and Boise St. squeaks out a win on a late Newton fumble.  Boise St. wins the National Championship 34-28.

 

Wouldn’t that be an amazing ride through this month of college football?!?  This is just one scenario this playoff could provide.  There are dozens of ways it could all play out that are just as likely and feasible as this one.  That is the beauty of a playoff.  It is unpredictable.  I know there will be a lot of people that would disagree with how I had my bracket play itself out, but that’s okay.  Wouldn’t you much rather have a debate on how an unpredictable playoff bracket like this plays itself out instead of which team deserves a higher computer ranking?  I know I would.  Let me know how you think the bracket would play out.  A pdf version of the bracket is attached below.

2010 Potential College Football Playoff 




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