What would a college football playoff look like this year? (Version 4.0)

For the last two weeks, I’ve constructed an eight-team bracket for a “what if” college football playoff.

Here are my assumptions:

1. The six BCS-conference champs get an automatic bid unless they are ranked outside the top 15. There would need to be some sort of ranking system used. For now, we will use the BCS.

2. If a conference champ is ranked lower than #15 in the rankings, they give up their automatic bid and it becomes an at-large bid. (This rule is to ensure that the regular season keeps its meaning and only the elite teams make the playoffs.)

3. Seeds and at-large bids are distributed based on the current BCS standings. Certainly, these rankings need to be tweaked to place more of an emphasis on head-to-head matchups, but they are fine for now. If an at-large team has a better BCS ranking than a conference champion, they will get a higher seed.

4. There will be three rounds of playoffs. The first round will be held at the home stadium of the higher-seeded team. The semifinals and the final will rotate amongst the four BCS cities (Miami, Pasadena, Tempe and New Orleans), so that those cities don’t lose the revenue from the bowl games.

5. If a conference champion is ranked behind a non-BCS school, and have a head-to-head loss to that team, then they give up their playoff bid to that team. This is the “I Drink Your Milkshake!” rule.

Georgia Tech lost to Georgia this week. How does that affect our bracket?

#8 Georgia Tech @ #1 Florida/Alabama
The Yellow Jackets still have to play Clemson in the ACC Championship. If they lose that game, they’ll be in danger of falling out of the playoffs altogether. The winner of the SEC Championship is a shoe-in for the #1 seed.

#5 Cincinnati @ #4 TCU
These two teams are very close in the BCS standings, so it’s possible that the Bearcats could leapfrog the Horned Frogs (pun intended) if they get a win over #15 Pitt next week. Pitt’s loss to West Virginia last weekend makes this less likely, however.

#7 Ohio State @ #2 Texas
The Buckeyes move up due to Georgia Tech’s loss to Georgia last weekend. Texas has to beat #22 Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship to secure the #2 seed.

#6 Boise St. @ #3 Alabama/Florida
The loser of the SEC Championship might fall further than #3 in the BCS standings, but I doubt it. Unless the loser looks awful, they’ll probably stay ahead of TCU, Cincy and Boise State. We will see. Meanwhile, the Broncos take Oregon’s spot due to a regular season win over the Ducks. This is the “I Drink Your Milkshake!” rule in effect.

Who gets screwed?
The GT loss complicates matters. Oregon and Ohio State both move up, but the Ducks are left out due to a loss to Boise State. Usually, a major conference champ that is ranked 7th is going to make the playoffs, but it just so happens that the Ducks lost to a non-BCS school that is ranked ahead of them. The Broncos beat the Ducks on the field and deserve the berth. Oregon plays #16 Oregon State next week and the Ducks would need to win big to convince the voters to put them ahead of the Broncos.


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