What would a college football playoff look like this year? (Part II)

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 13: Quarterback Cameron Newton  of the Auburn Tigers celebrates with fans after their 49-31 win over the Georgia Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Last week, I outlined what my proposed eight-team playoff bracket would look like prior to Championship Weekend. Boise State got the 8th and final bid because they beat the Hokies straight up early in the season and were ranked ahead of VT in the BCS standings. Let’s see if anything has changed in seven days…

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. I’d rather do a straight #1-#8 seeding based on the rankings, but in order for a playoff to get implemented the big conferences would need some preferential treatment. That’s just the way it is and we all know it.

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. If a conference champ 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

So here is how an eight-team playoff would look at this point…

#8 Boise State @ #1 Auburn
Virginia Tech did their part, and beat Florida State in the ACC title game, but it wasn’t enough to pass the Broncos in the rankings, so Boise St. gets the bid due to the “I Drink Your Milkshake!” rule. (See #3 above.) I asked Anthony Stalter to preview this matchup and he said, “It would be the battle of the Heisman candidates, as Auburn’s Cam Newton and Boise’s Kellen Moore would go head-to-head in what should be an entertaining matchup. Boise has the edge defensively, but Auburn has played top SEC competition all year.”

#5 Wisconsin @ #4 Stanford
Both teams were idle so nothing changed here. The Big Ten champ would have to travel to the West Coast to face the Cardinal on their home turf. Anthony said, “Wisconsin has the fourth-best scoring offense in the nation and Stanford has the eighth. There would be no shortage of big plays.”

#7 Oklahoma @ #2 Oregon
Oklahoma beat Nebraska in what was essentially a play-in game. Now the Sooners have to travel to Eugene to face the Ducks. Good luck with that.

#6 Ohio State @ #3 TCU
The Buckeyes get an at-large bid after just missing out on the Big Ten title. Regarding a trip to TCU, Anthony said, “Everyone thought Oregon would run past Ohio State in last year’s Rose Bowl and the Buckeyes’ front four completely dominanted the trenches. Would a OSU-TCU matchup be a repeat scenario?”

In this case, Championship Weekend didn’t change the matchups from last week. Auburn won so they stayed at #1 and Virginia Tech was unable to pass Boise St. in the BCS standings (thanks to the two human polls that had the Broncos ahead of the Hokies), so Boise gets the final bid.

The first round of games would be held on December 18th. The semifinals would be held two weeks later on January 1st, along with a thousand other non-playoff bowls. The two weeks between games would allow for the celebration of Christmas and to give fans some time to make travel arrangements for New Year’s weekend. Finally, the title game would be held on January 8th.

Who gets screwed? No one, really. The next few at-large teams — Arkansas, Michigan State and LSU — all had their chances throughout the season, but in-conference losses (to Auburn and Alabama, to Iowa, and to Auburn and Arkansas, respectively) did them in. It makes sense that Ohio State gets the nod over Michigan State since the Buckeyes won at Iowa, while the Spartans were soundly thrashed in Iowa City.

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