What If There Was A Playoff? ... 2010
Stanford QB Andrew Luck
Stanford QB Andrew Luck
Posted Jan 14, 2011

Alright ... so really, what if college football got to have the same fun the NFLers do? What if the six BCS champions, one top non-BCS team, and one Wild Card battled in an eight-team playoff? Remember, there's no layoff and the matchups would make things far different than a normal bowl game. Andrew Luck and Stanford might surprise against some very suspect secondaries.

If There Was A Playoff ... 2010

What If There Was A Playoff ...
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It's that time of year ... the second guessing season.

What might happen if Oklahoma State got its shot? How would TCU have done if it got its shot at Auburn at the end of the 2010 season? How about if Boise State got a chance at Alabama in 2009 or if several other BCS fiascos were decided on the field?.

Forget basketball's gimmicky post-season, where a seventh best team in a conference gets a shot to play for the national title, rendering the regular season relatively meaningless. CFN has created the best of all possible worlds for a playoff to make sure the regular season still holds the weight it does now, if not more, while providing the solution everyone wants (outside of Bill Hancock, the college presidents, the yellow-jacket bowl kids, and 99% of the coaches). Here’s the plan …

Take the six BCS conference champions and give them automatic bids. Take the highest ranked non-BCS league champion (Notre Dame included), and give it an automatic bid. The eighth and final slot would be a Wild Card, which would go to the top ranked team in the BCS that isn’t already in.

We'd have to keep this in the land of the real with the geographic and economic concerns in mind by rewarding the top four teams with a first round home game - fan bases aren't going to travel to three neutral field sites if their team goes to the national championship.

The seeds wouldn’t necessarily go according to BCS ranking, again, with the idea to put teams close to the right region to make sure the opposing fans can get there as easily as possible.

The Final Four games would be held in Pasadena and New Orleans, and the national title would rotate sites like it does now. Meanwhile the rest of the bowl system would be kept in place. If you watched the Liberty Bowl before, you’d still watch it if there's  an eight team playoff.

So what would’ve likely happened had the CFN system been in place since the BCS was in place in 2010? Here’s the best guess with the seedings and the results.

Final BCS Ranking In Parentheses

ACC – Virginia Tech (13)
Big East – Connecticut (NR)
Big Ten – Wisconsin (5)
Big 12 – Oklahoma (7)
Pac 10 – Oregon (2)
SEC – Auburn (1)
Non-BCS – TCU (3)
Wild Card – Stanford (4)

Bubble Busted: Ohio State (6), Arkansas (8), Michigan State (9), Boise State (10)

The howling would be deafening. Ohio State would be screaming that Stanford didn't beat anyone. Arkansas would be yelling that it was the second best SEC team and deserved to get its shot. Michigan State would have less of a beef, but it would be ticked that it wouldn't be close to getting in, and Boise State would be dreaming about what might have been if it hadn't gacked away the loss to Nevada. Considering Stanford finished fifth in both the computer and human polls, and the Buckeyes, Hogs, Spartans, and Broncos didn't finish in the top five in either, there wouldn't be any footing to stand on.

First Round Matchups

No. 4 Stanford vs. No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 8 Connecticut
No. 3 TCU vs. No. 6 Oklahoma
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech

Matchup Analysis:
Everyone would be buzzing about the David vs. Goliath game with TCU getting its dream shot against Oklahoma with everything on the line. The problem for the Horned Frogs would be the OU passing game that would crank out well over 300 yards, but Andy Dalton and the ultra-efficient TCU offense would play flawlessly against the decent, but not elite Sooner D. Turnovers would be the key, and TCU would capitalize on all of them to pull off the win. The other marquee matchup would but the hard-hitting Rose Bowl-like battle between Stanford and Wisconsin. The Badgers would be the Badgers and would thunder away on the Cardinal defense, but Shayne Skov and the Stanford linebackers would win more than their share of battles, and Andrew Luck would light up the mediocre UW secondary like a Christmas tree. Auburn would put away UConn by halftime, while the Oregon running game would outslug the Virginia Tech ground attack in a high scoring shootout. It would take three quarters, but the Ducks would win in a blowout.

Projected Final Four

Rose Bowl – No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU
Sugar Bowl – No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 4 Stanford

Matchup Analysis:
TCU would be a nice matchup for the Oregon offense with the linebackers keeping LaMichael James in check throughout. However, the Horned Frogs wouldn't be able to do much against a Duck defense perfectly-built to handle Dalton and the spread. Oregon would be in for its biggest fight of the year for about 50 minutes, but would finally break through late.

The shocker would likely come in the Sugar Bowl as Stanford would have the near-perfect formula for beating Cam Newton and the Tigers. The smart, tough Cardinal linebackers would keep Newton in check, and the great size up front in the 3-4 wouldn't be run over, like Oregon's line was in the 2011 BCS Championship. Stanford wouldn't run a lick, but Luck would go ballistic on the mediocre Auburn secondary. It would be a shootout, and there would be several big momentum shifts, but the Stanford offensive line that was second in the nation in sacks allowed would keep Luck clean as the Pac 10 would come up with one of its biggest wins in the BCS era .

Projected National Championship:
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 4 Stanford
Projected National Champion: No. 2 Oregon

Matchup Analysis:
How would Stanford do if it played Oregon outside of Autzen Stadium? It would lose. The precision of the Duck attack wouldn't slip after working through a playoff and without a long layoff to screw things up. The Cardinal might have dominated the first half of the first meeting, but the Ducks would be better throughout and would pull out a win in the final moments of a classic. Luck would throw for 350, but LaMichael James would run for 175 and the game-winner.

What If There Was A Playoff ...
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