Buckle up your seat belts college football fans. There will be some unexpected turbulence for the remainder of the season as we approach the playoffs.
The College Football Playoffs replaced the Bowl Championship Series last season, and for the most part, the new playoff system has been widely accepted and celebrated across the country.
Currently, the postseason in NCAA Division-1 Football is a four-team playoff scenario. There are three playoff games, two semifinal games and a championship game. The semifinal matchups have the No. 1 seeded team playing the No. 4 seed, and the No. 2 seeded team playing the No. 3 seed. The winner of each semifinal game advances to the national championship.
Many believe the four-team playoff system selected by a 13-member committee is much better than the previous BCS system where polls and computer data dictated the postseason in college football.
This season could determine the future of the four-team playoff system and whether it needs to expand its postseason bracket. College football is over halfway through the regular season, and after week seven, there are still 14 teams that are undefeated.
Inevitably, that will change as the season winds down, but how will they measure and weigh all the teams with identical records? What happens to the teams in Power Five conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) with only one loss?
There are several teams in the Power Five that could and will finish the season with just one loss. The Big 12 contenders’ Baylor and TCU have the best chance of one of them going undefeated.
Baylor and TCU play each other in November. The ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and the SEC teams that are still in the running for the playoffs, all have major hurdles to clear with tough conference games ahead, so how much will strength of schedule be accounted for?
There is only one SEC team, LSU, undefeated at the moment, but can you imagine a postseason without an SEC team? The “Strength Everywhere Conference” has been the postseason’s power brand for decades.
Even the “little guys” in college football are stirring up the playoff picture. Going into week eight, there are four teams from the Group of Five conferences (American-Athletic, Conference-USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt) that are undefeated, and they have a much better chance to remain that way as opposed to Power Five conference teams. So what happens if the “mid-major” teams remain undefeated? Will they beat out the “high-major” teams that only have one loss?
The CFP system is supposedly in place to give the Group of Five a fair shot to qualify for a spot in the postseason. The BCS placed a significantly higher value on the Power Five and considered those teams as the automatically qualifying conferences for bowl championship games, while the Group of Five conferences were the non-AQ conferences.
Mike Sauer, producer of RiffRaff Sports Podcast, is opposed to the current four-team playoff system and believes it should expand to at least a six-team playoff scenario.
“An eight-team playoff picture would be ideal. There are five major conferences, so with only four teams advancing, that means at least one conference in the Power Five will not get a bid,” Sauer said. “I think the BCS actually did a decent job ranking teams in the regular season, but the postseason was deeply flawed. So I think keeping the BCS ranking system and expanding the playoffs could be a solution for those teams deserving of a spot in the postseason.”
If college football were to use the former BCS rankings and also expand to an eight-team playoff, it would have the top eight teams ranked by the BCS system automatically earning a spot in the playoffs. Sauer added that the top seeded teams should also have a first-round bye week.
There are many solutions to this postseason situation, but it looks like until the 2025-2026 season, college football’s postseason is “locked” into a four-team playoff contract with ESPN, according to a press release on espnmediazone.com.
One thing I know for sure is that I am glad I’m not one of the 13 in charge of selecting the top four teams this particular season. It’s pretty clear it’s going to be a wild ride to the 2015-2016 College Football Playoffs.
The CFP selection committee will reveal the 2015 rankings for the College Football Playoffs on Tuesdays, starting Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN. “Selection Day” or the day the playoff semifinal teams will be announced is on Dec. 6, at 9 a.m. on ESPN, according to collegefootballplayoff.com.
Published October 21st, 2015