What If There Was A Playoff? ... 2006
Florida QB Chris Leak & head coach Urban Meyer
Florida QB Chris Leak & head coach Urban Meyer
Posted Jan 14, 2012

With all the fun every year with March Madness and the NFL Playoffs, it's a shame college football isn't able to come up with a similar way to crown a champion. What if there was an eight team college football tournament in 2006? What likely would've happened? CFN tries to figure out how a playoff would've gone.

If There Was A Playoff ... 2006

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 2006? Here’s the best guess with the seedings and the results.

Final BCS Ranking In Parentheses

ACC – Wake Forest (14)
Big East – Louisville (6)
Big Ten – Ohio State (1)
Big 12 – Oklahoma (10)
Pac 10 – USC (5)
SEC – Florida (2)
Non-BCS – Boise State (8)
Wild Card – Michigan (3)

Bubble Busted: LSU (4), Wisconsin (7)

LSU was deserving of getting in the Wild Card, but it would’ve had to settle for a Sugar Bowl appearance and a 41-14 destruction of Notre Dame. Wisconsin would’ve had the biggest complaint after going 11-1 with the lone loss coming at Michigan. There weren’t any big wins, the only one of note coming against a good Penn State team, but the Badgers proved they could play with a Capital One Bowl win over Arkansas. Had the BCS allowed three teams from the same conference to get in, Wisconsin almost certainly would’ve knocked out Boise State to play Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

First Round Matchups

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 8 Wake Forest
No. 2 Florida vs. No. 7 Boise State
No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 6 Oklahoma
No. 4 USC vs. No. 5. Louisville

Matchup Analysis:
Wake Forest was mistake-free and plucky, but Ohio State’s offense would’ve been too potent in the home field environment. Boise State would’ve thrown everything and the kitchen sink against Florida, but the Gators were tougher than Oklahoma, especially on defense, and wouldn’t have melted down. Michigan ended the season with a major disappointment after losing an epic war against Ohio State before going to the Rose Bowl to lose to USC. Oklahoma was good, but it wasn’t one of Bob Stoops’ juggernauts. Adrian Peterson would’ve run wild, but Michigan would’ve moved on. No one is better in the big games than USC, but a major assumption is being made here: the team wouldn’t be healthy.

The Trojans blew their shot to play for the national title with a 13-9 loss to UCLA in the season finale mainly because QB John David Booty had little mobility. In a playoff, he would’ve only had two weeks, roughly, to heal up, while the offensive consistency would’ve been an issue. Brian Brohm and Louisville were the real deal and should’ve been given more consideration for the national title game after beating seven teams that finished with a winning record.

Projected Final Four

Rose Bowl – No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 5 Louisville
Sugar Bowl – No. 2 Florida vs. No. 3 Michigan

Matchup Analysis:
Let’s assume Ohio State is the potent, efficient machine that ripped through the regular season and not the fat, lazy team that didn’t show up against Florida. Louisville had the offense to put up big numbers on the Buckeye D, but Heisman winner Troy Smith and the Buckeye passing game would’ve gotten the job done. Florida managed to come up with close win after close win and was hitting its peak as the season ended. Michigan’s offense wouldn’t have been able to handle the swarming Gator D.

Projected National Championship:
No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Florida
Projected National Champion: No. 2 Florida

Matchup Analysis:
Remember, this is a tournament. Ohio State wouldn’t have had the seven weeks off it had between the Michigan win and the Debacle in the Desert and wouldn’t have been blown out. Even so, the Gators would’ve been too athletic and too efficient for a Buckeye team that was great, but showed holes against the Wolverines.

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