Previewing the College Football Playoffs
Are eight enough?
Championship week is upon us once again, and the question everyone is asking is, "Who gets left out?"
After a weekend of a few shocking upsets, the answer remains unknown.
The biggest upset of this past weekend was the unranked Pittsburgh Panthers over the No. 2 Miami Hurricanes. As surprising as it was, let's not forget Pitt had another big upset last year over the Clemson Tigers, who eventually went on to win the national championship. Although the 'Canes entered the game with a ton of momentum, the cold air blowing off the three rivers seemed to have an adverse effect on the then-ranked No. 2 team in the nation. This week, the 'Canes will face the No. 1 Clemson Tigers for the ACC championship. A win will almost definitely get the No. 7 'Canes into the playoffs, whereas a second loss could leave the defending champs out. Syracuse? Really?
Another really big game this weekend is the No. 2 Auburn Tigers matching up against the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs. The Tigers have been on a terror the past few weeks. After blowing out then-ranked No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs 40-17, they followed with a 24-17 win over the newly-ranked No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide, who up until that point were a lock for the playoffs. Not anymore. There was a question of the level of competition the Tide had faced leading up to the game, and the Tigers put Alabama to the ultimate test. Now they are forced to wait and see like the rest of the world.
There is also the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners taking on the No. 11 Texas Christian University. At this point, things can go either way. The Sooners have one loss and another would certainly make a spot in the playoffs hard to imagine, whereas a win and some well-timed losses could land them in the No. 1 spot.
Oh... and there are the undefeated No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (Thank goodness I do not have the selection committee's job). The Badgers are taking on the No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes for the Big 10 crown. Wisconsin is good. Really good. Arguably No. 1 in the country good. Although I do not see a loss knocking the Badgers out of the playoffs, let us hope they keep it close if it happens not to go in their favor. A two touchdown loss at this point, and all bets are off.
So, we have our top four teams: Clemson, Auburn, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. But, there is an elephant in the room. Literally, if you are wearing your 'Bama gear; Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. Where will they land? Can they even beat any of the current top four teams? No. 6 through No. 8 are not a cakewalk, either.
Just to make you scratch your head a little more, No. 14 Central Florida is sitting undefeated and taking on the No. 20 Memphis Tigers for the AAC title.
So, are eight enough? There are ten conferences in the College Football Bowl series. Six of those conferences are Automatic Qualifiers (AQ); four are Non AQ. From the outside looking in, the solution is simple. A 12-team playoff, each conference represented by its champion, and the top two teams—based on the AP Poll, or Coaches Poll, or whatever they choose to use to determine the rankings—get a bye week, and two runner-up teams get a wildcard. The major bowl games can carry the quarterfinals through the semifinals, four games to kick off the opening weekend, spread over two days. The semifinals can be held at the Rose Bowl, on a Saturday and Sunday, with the championship at Jerry's House the following Monday night.
Championship Weekend Picks:
- Clemson vs. Miami - (Clemson 24-13)
- Auburn vs. Georgia - (Georgia 30-21)
- Oklahoma vs. TCU - (Okla. 34-17)
- Wisconsin vs. Ohio St. - (Wis. 24-21)
- Central Fla. vs. Memphis - (C.Fla. 34- 10)