What-If: Expanded College Football Playoff

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Yesterday with time to kill, I did what every millennial does and decided to scroll thru Twitter. While scrolling, I stumbled upon a poll created by a legend in the sports blogging game, Sports by Brooks. The poll asked a simple question – What would make a better college football playoff:

  1. 8 Teams: Power 5 conference winners getting automatic bids and 3 at-large,
  2. 16 Team: All 10 conference winners getting automatic bids and 6 at-large bids.

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 6.49.18 PMThe answer to this question may seem obvious, and most people want to only see the best teams, and not some “inferior” team from the MAC in the College Football Playoffs. However, the idea of everyone getting a fair chance intrigued me, so I decided to make my own 16 team brackets.

Before we dive into the bracket, let me set a few ground rules. First, each conference is only allowed two teams in order to keep the playoff balanced: Conference Champion and one At-Large Bid. Second, the rankings are mostly based on the CFP Rankings, with some of the seeding being subjectively chosen by me. My blog, my rules. Lastly, Army is not ranked in the CFP Rankings, but are ranked 22nd in the AP Poll. I chose them over Syracuse because Army has been more impressive in my opinion, plus we can get to see a matchup of the one of CFB’s oldest rivalry.

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 7.39.57 PM

The first initial look at the bracket, and one can assume that the first round matchups will be all chalk. The most compelling matchup, outside the  8-9 & 7-10 matchups, would be Fresno State v Ohio State. Fresno State’s defense is elite enough that it could potentially slow down Ohio State’s high-power offense, but we will never get to know because this playoff system will never exist.

ucf The best part about this bracket is that CFB fans would finally get their wish of a more competitive and expansive playoff, and UCF finally gets their wish – Bama.

The worse part about this bracket, again, is that it will never exist, especially allowing non-power 5 conferences to have an automatic bid. I was skeptical of this format at first too, I thought it was a waste of time. Then I remember, you cannot predict sports.

Every March, we gather around our TVs to watch the opening weekend of March Madness. We hope for buzzer beaters and Cinderellas, and while parity isn’t that common in College Football, it doesn’t mean that UAB couldn’t beat Clemson or that App State could have magical run to the CFB Final 4.

One day hopefully soon, we will have an expanded playoff, and when that happens, it will be a great day for College Football. But for the time being, we will have to live with the current format and talk about the what-ifs of an expanded playoff format.

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