What would a college football playoff look like this year?

Oct 21, 2010; Eugene, OR, USA; Fans of the Oregon Ducks cheer during the game against the UCLA Bruins at Autzen Stadium. Photo via Newscom

Last year, I ran a series of posts examining how a college football playoff system might look. I’m getting a late start this year, but it might be for the best since the rankings are more settled.

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
Surprised to see the Broncos included? Me too, but they are the beneficiary of the (awesome) “I Drink Your Milkshake” rule. They beat Virginia Tech head-to-head, so they get the Hokies’ bid, assuming Va Tech wins against Florida State and is unable to surpass the Broncos in the BCS rankings. If the Hokies lose, then their spot would be given to Arkansas, who is currently on the outside looking in. 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
The Big Ten champ would have to travel to the West Coast to face Stanford on its 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/Nebraska-winner @ #2 Oregon
In this case, the Big 12 title game would essentially become a play-in game, with the winner given the reward of traveling to Eugene to face the high-powered Ducks. Congratulations!

#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?”

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.

So, what do you think? Should we scrap the BCS and do this thing?

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