Five Thoughts: 3. What A 16-Team College Football Playoff Would Look Like

Five Thoughts: 3. What A 16-Team College Football Playoff Would Look Like

Week 8

Five Thoughts: 3. What A 16-Team College Football Playoff Would Look Like

Five Thoughts: 3. What A 16-Team College Football Playoff Would Look Like


The four-team format is fine, but what would happen if there was a 16-team College Football Playoff right now?



5 Thoughts After Week 8

Week 8 Roundup: Rankings, Bowl Projections, Analysis
1. Win Out, Notre Dame, And You’re In The CFP. Maybe
2. Where’s The Baker Mayfield Heisman Love?
3. What A 16-Team College Football Playoff Would Look Like
4. Really? Are LSU And Auburn Still Alive For The CFP?
5. Does UCF Or USF Have A Shot At The CFP?

Contact/Follow @PeteFiutak

Do you need more College Football Playoff? Here You Go …

There are 347 college basketball teams in the mix for 68 spots in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. That means almost 20% get to make it into the playoffs.

Throw in Coastal Carolina – who isn’t eligible for anything this year – and forgetting that Ole Miss has been sent to its room, and there are 130 FBS college football teams. and only four get into the tournament. A mere 3% are able to get into the ultra-exclusive club.

And I’m all for it.

The CFP allows for the fairest balance of proper regular season and playoff representation.

It should’ve been Nationals vs. Dodgers and Indians vs. Astros in the MLB playoffs, and that’s it.

But what if college football got it up to around 14% of its teams getting into a playoff? What if it was run like one part of the basketball bracket, with play-in games to determine the final two spots in a Sweet 16?

If you want to blow off the rest of the regular season and just do this tournament from here on, I’m game – to a point. What might happen if this kicked in right now?

The AP poll is hardly the be-all-end-all – it did have Michigan ahead of Michigan State after Sparty won in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago – but let’s go with that for a seeding system.

There are currently 20 FBS teams either undefeated or with one loss. Memphis is one of the teams, and it lost to UCF – it’s out – and Marshall already lost to NC State and hasn’t beaten anyone with a pulse. I’m cool with it not getting in.

So here we go. What could an expanded CFP tournament bracket look like?

Play-In Games

No. 18 UCF at No. 15 Washington State

This UCF team would look for real, at least it would against a Mike Leach-coached team in a game that truly matters.

No. 17 USF vs. No. 16 Michigan State

Finally, the Bulls play a team that isn’t totally miserable, but Michigan State goes Michigan State with a great run defense, and too many struggles in a tough win.

First Round 

No. 1 Alabama (8-0) vs. Play-In Winner UCF (6-0)

Nick Saban would scream and yell about how tough UCF is, and it would be – until the third quarter.

No. 8 Miami (6-0) vs. No. 9 Notre Dame (6-1)

Ooooh. This is actually happening in a few weeks. Miami could’ve and should’ve lost to a mediocre Florida State, and it could’ve and should’ve lost to a good Georgia Tech. It will lose to Notre Dame.

No. 5 Wisconsin (7-0) vs. No. 12 Washington (6-1)

In one of the more brutal games of the first round, the Washington defense would rise up and stuff the Badger ground game. Wisconsin would have to throw to win, and then bad things would happen as the Huskies pull off the 5-12 upset made so famous in the hoops tourney.

No. 4 TCU (7-0) vs. No. 13 Virginia Tech (6-1) 

The no-drama Horned Frogs would slide on by, answering every Hokie score with a long scoring drive of their own.

No. 6 Ohio State (6-1) vs. No. 11 Oklahoma State (6-1)

Ohio State would run all over the Cowboys, but Mason Rudolph and company would get their licks in. The Buckeyes would win by two touchdowns.

No. 3 Georgia (7-0) vs. No. 14 NC State (6-1) 

Georgia would get a huge push from the Wolfpack defense and rock-solid offense, but the backfield and running game would take over in the second half.

No. 7 Clemson (6-1) vs. No. 10 Oklahoma (6-1)

Give this one to the Clemson lines. The Tigers will be all over Baker Mayfield from the start, and the running game would come through to make up for a banged up Kelly Bryant.

No. 2 Penn State (7-0) vs. Play-In Winner Michigan State (6-1)

This is coming soon to a big game near you. The Spartans have the run defense to stop Mr. Barkley, but they don’t have the offense to keep up any pace. The Nittany Lions pull away in a blowout.

Elite Eight

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 9 Notre Dame

As great as the Irish offensive line and running game are, against this Tide D? Nope.

No. 4 TCU vs. No. 12 Washington

The physical play of the Huskies that got them past Wisconsin would come through again. TCU doesn’t screw up, but Washington wouldn’t make the big mistakes, either. UW moves on in a fantastic battle.

No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 6 Ohio State

In real life, this is probably your 2018 Rose Bowl as part of the CFP. Admittedly ready to look stupid if Penn State has something different to say and show on Saturday night in the real world, I’m all in that the Buckeyes have figured it out. In this fantasy land, this is when Jake Fromm plays like a freshman.

No. 2 Penn State vs. No. 7 Clemson

Yeah, if Syracuse could beat Clemson, then Penn State should rock, right? Yeah, but if Iowa could almost beat Penn State, then Clemson … more like, if Indiana and Northwestern could slow down Barkley, the Tiger D line could do it, too.

Final Four

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 12 Washington

No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 7 Clemson

Does any of this look remotely familiar to you?

To play this out – if this happened, and it still might in the real world – Alabama vs. Ohio State in the national championship, and Alabama winning. But I can be convinced the other way considering Bama hasn’t beaten anyone all that nasty yet.

Okay, so I’m happier with the regular season sorting everything out and ending up with four of the best teams, even if one or two deserving ones are out.

I like that the process matters. I’m fine with the theory that if you’re not able to get into the top four, something went wrong and you didn’t deserve it.

I’ll live with the four.

Leave the bigger playoff gimmicks to everyone else.

Week 8 Rankings & Thoughts 
ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC
AAC | C-USA | Ind | MAC | MW | Sun Belt
CFN Rankings & Reaction No. 1 to 130
Coaching Hot Seat Rankings
Heisman Race After Week 8
Scoreboard & Predictions

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