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They're Back: What-If Playoff Scenarios!

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Well we did get a playoff this year, but what if it was bigger? Let's see how awesome other playoff scenarios would look.

Ronald Martinez

The year has changed, the postseason has changed, but the question remains the same: how would the college football playoffs look if we added MORE TEAMS?! Worry not, my punt-loving friends, we've got you covered. As you have probably seen by now, the revered Playoff Committee has begun what is sure to become a rich tradition of picking the best college football teams and purposely screwing over your favorite school. But before we walk our dogs, put their poo in paper bags, place those bags on Committee members' front doors, light the bags on fire, ring the door bells, hide in the bushes, wait for them to open the door and stomp out the fire, laugh hysterically at their misfortune as a result of their heinous wrongdoings, curse them and....what? Oh, the playoffs. Let's take a look at how the postseason might look with fields of 8 and 16 teams.

16 Team Playoff

We start with the obvious ideal playoff scenario that cannot possibly be argued against: a 16 team field featuring every conference champion. I prefer this model because it incorporates the entire college football landscape without losing much in the way of exciting postseason games. In theory it could also lead to a gradual influx of talent for the smaller conferences, particularly fringe "Power 5" conference prospects that might opt for a playoff run with the Toledos of the world over a struggle with a program like, say, Kansas. Admittedly a playoff of this structure and, to a lesser extent, size, is less likely than ever to actually happen thanks to "Power 5" autonomy efforts, but let's look at how fun this would be! Here's the format:

-16 teams (all 10 conference champions and 6 at-large selections)
-For simplicity, I chose the highest Committee-ranked teams that didn't project to win their conference for at-large spots
-No more than 3 teams from a single conference
-Once the teams are selected they are ranked from 1-16 and put into the playoff bracket. For simplicity I used Committee rankings when applicable and projected strength for the unranked teams
-I'm up for discussion on this, but I'm okay with first round matchups with teams from the same conference. We did end up with one Big 12 rematch.
-The higher seed hosts first and second round games, and the semifinals and championship game are held at neutral sites

The Field:
#1 Mississippi State (SEC Champion)
#2 Florida State (ACC Champion)
#3 Auburn (At-large, SEC #2)
#4 Oregon (Pac-12 Champion)
#5 Alabama (At-large, SEC #3)
#6 TCU (Big 12 Champion)
#7 Kansas State (At-large, Big 12 #2)
#8 Michigan State (Big Ten Champion)
#9 Arizona State (At-large, Pac 12 #2)
#10 Notre Dame (At-large, Independent)
#11 Baylor (At-large, Big 12 #3)*
#12 East Carolina (AAC Champion)
#13 Marshall (Conference USA Champion)
#14 Boise State (Mountain West Champion)
#15 Toledo (MAC Champion)
#16 Georgia Southern (Sun Belt Champion)

Ineligible Qualifiers:
#11 Ole Miss (SEC #4; replaced by Baylor)

Bubble Teams:
Nebraska (8-1)
Ohio State (7-1)
Utah (6-2)
UCLA (7-2)

16 Team Bracket 1

Maybe only two snoozers in the whole dang tourney! Boise State not being elite but still participating makes for an exciting first round matchup in which they can play the underdog role they've mastered over the years. Arizona State offense vs. Michigan State defense is worth the first round alone, with the winner giving Mississippi State all it can handle in the quarterfinals. Feel the hypothetical excitement!

8 Team Playoff

Half as awesome but at least twice as likely to happen at some point, an eight team playoff bracket would probably look more like an extension of the current four team format:

-8 teams (all five "Power 5" conference champions plus three at-large selections)
-No more than three teams from a single conference
-Higher seed hosts the first round game

The Field:
#1 Mississippi State (SEC Champion)
#2 Florida State (ACC Champion)
#3 Auburn (At-large, SEC #2)
#4 Oregon (Pac-12 Champion)
#5 Alabama (At-large, SEC #3)
#6 TCU (Big 12 Champion)
#7 Kansas State (At-large, Big 12 #2)
#8 Michigan State (Big Ten Champion)

Bubble Teams:
Arizona State (7-1)
Notre Dame (7-1)
Baylor (7-1)

2014 8 Team 1

A lot of entertaining games here as well, and I personally like the idea of Alabama actually traveling to play a true away game at Oregon of all places. Big Ten resident Michigan State draws the away game in a battle of MSUs, and with an SEC matchup on their plates the rest of the conference might actually want them to win.

Thoughts? Predictions? Blinding hatred toward me? Put it all in the comments.