A 16 team dream scenario, everyone gets a chance

Now that the season is over, and all of the bowl match-ups are set, it’s time to look at what a real playoff should be. Dan Wetzel proposed similar to this in his book “Death to the BCS“, which he published a few years ago.

We all know that the BCS is stupid and we are all glad it is gone after this year. The 4-team playoff is a start, but let’s be honest, even it will cause plenty of problems. The race for 3rd and 4th is actually a lot tighter than some would think. I have no idea how anyone in their right mind can’t think of Alabama as the #3 seed, and it’s close, but I think Michigan State is definitely deserving of the #4 seed now.

However, this playoff system was proposed by Dan Wetzel in the book. Basically, all conference champions get an auto-bid (how it is in every other sport, and in all of the other divisions of football), and then there are 6 wildcard teams. The WAC still existed back then, but doesn’t now so that is why it’s 10 instead of 11 auto-bids.

I have tweaked the at-large bid rules a bit to allow for the possibility of an independent auto-bid (not just Notre Dame specific), and a conference team limit. But it’s the same basic idea. So here would be the teams who would make it.

10 conference champions

Florida State, ACC Champ (Championship game winner)
Central Florida, AAC Champ (Best record)
Auburn, SEC Champ (Championship game winner)
Baylor, Big 12 Champ (Best record)
Michigan State, Big 10 Champ (Championship game winner)
Stanford, Pac-12 Champ (Championship game winner)
Rice, Conference USA Champ (Championship game winner)
Bowling Green, MAC Champ (Championship game winner)
Fresno State, Mountain West Champ (Championship game winner)
Louisiana-Lafayette, Sun Belt Champ (Best record)

6 At-large bids

– One independent auto-bid, if inside top 16 of Coaches poll. If multiple teams are inside top 16, highest ranking gets bid. No team gets this auto bid this year.
– No more than 3 teams from one conference, so no more than 2 at-large teams from any given conference.

The following bracket will have a couple of teams you might worry about being in there, but the point of the bracket is to give every team in every conference a fair shot. Northern Illinois blew their chance by losing to Bowling Green. It’s not that they had a loss at all, it’s that they didn’t win their conference and would have to compete with the likes of Alabama, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and more for a wildcard bid.

With all of that said, here are the 6 at-large teams this year now that everything is said and done:

Top 2 in

Alabama (11-1)
Ohio State (12-1)

Last 4 in

South Carolina (10-2)
Oregon (10-2)
Clemson (10-2)
Oklahoma (10-2)

First 4 out

Arizona State will have 3 losses, and I think be out, leaving way for Oregon to make it in.
Missouri will fall out with a loss to Auburn, giving them 2 losses. South Carolina will get final SEC spot in on head to head performance against Missouri.
Oklahoma State will lose out of a spot now with a bad loss to West Virginia and then to Oklahoma, who basically took their place.
Louisville will probably lose out to any of the AQ schools listed, and the ones in front of them that weren’t.


First round Second round Semifinals Finals
1  Florida State (H)
16  Bowling Green
 Higher Ranked Team
 Hosts Game
8  South Carolina (H)
9  Oregon
 Sugar Bowl
 New Orleans, LA
5  Baylor (H)
12  Central Florida
 Higher Ranked Team
 Hosts Game
4  Michigan State (H)
13  Fresno State
 AT&T Stadium
 Arlington, TX
6  Stanford (H)
11  Oklahoma
 Higher Ranked Team
 Hosts Game
3  Alabama (H)
14  Rice
 Rose Bowl
 Pasadena, California
7  Ohio State (H)
10  Clemson
 Higher Ranked Team
 Hosts Game
2  Auburn (H)
15  Louisiana-Lafayette


Now the fun part. Here’s how I think it would all play out. Note the home field advantage goes away in the semifinals, and goes to neutral sites.

First round Second round Semifinals Finals
1  Florida State (H) 49
16  Bowling Green 10
1  Florida State (H) 35
9  Oregon 24
8  South Carolina (H) 17
9  Oregon 35
1  Florida State 31
4  Michigan State 10
5  Baylor (H) 42
12  Central Florida 21
5  Baylor 21
4  Michigan State (H) 24
4  Michigan State (H) 24
13  Fresno State 10
1  Florida State 35
3  Alabama 27
6  Stanford (H) 17
11  Oklahoma 14
6  Stanford 17
3  Alabama (H) 28
3  Alabama (H) 35
14  Rice 3
3  Alabama 35
2  Auburn 31
7  Ohio State (H) 35
10  Clemson 28
7  Ohio State 31
2  Auburn (H) 42
2  Auburn (H) 52
15  Louisiana-Lafayette 14


Now before any Auburn fan reads this and immediately jumps to the “you’re just a biased idiot who is picking Alabama because that’s who you want”. Well that may be, but I also think that if you take the game across the country, and away from Jordan-Hare, then the outcome is different. If you ask most college football analysts, they will say Alabama wins that game 6/10 times at Jordan-Hare, so what happens when Auburn loses home field and it goes to a neutral field where Alabama has been dominant in the last three years, winning by an average of 21 points over five games, four where opponents were ranked (at the time) #1, #1, #3, and #8.

I’d take Alabama in another close one. Then I would choose FSU to win it all with their offense being slightly too high powered.  The scores are quick estimates, but the winner/loser is more what to pay attention to in each game.