Here’s part two of RBR’s look at the College Football Playoffs. I’m moderating these, and have asked our esteemed writers, contributors and editors some hopefully probing, speculative or discussion-generating questions about the state of the post-season field in 2017.
In case you missed Part One (CB and Brad,) you should definitely check it out. (Man, are the Notre Dame fans mad.)
Today, we feature our most prolix senior writer, Ole’ Whistlebritches, and the best junior editor a pal could have, Brent Taylor.
If the playoff field were announced today, what would the field be? and the seeding?
OWB: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, TCU
BT: Alabama, TCU, Penn State, Georgia
What undefeated Power 5 team needs to remain undefeated to enter the field of four, and why: Alabama, Wisconsin, Miami, TCU, Georgia or Penn State?
OWB: Miami…if they lose a single game this season, it will confirm what many outside of the M-I- A believe to be true: namely, that they are overrated and their success is the result of a weak ACC. Not to mention, there are a bevy of potential one-loss teams with better advanced metrics that also pass the eye-test (such as a one-loss Penn State or Ohio State, a one-loss Georgia, or even a one-loss team from Oklahoma). If the Canes lose, they can hang it up.
BT: Wisconsin. I think the committee, like the rest of the world really, won’t be too impressed with Wisky’s play nor strength of schedule. Going undefeated will be a must for them. Bama has benefit of the doubt for most. Miami plays in the supposedly strongest conference. PSU has all the love. And TCU will end up with a strong schedule.
As of today, what one-loss Power 5 team is in the most trouble and why?
OWB: I’ll go with Washington. If they run the table the rest of the way and win the Pac-12 championship, they will have a legitimate claim to one of the four spots. But with a lot of one-loss Power-5 competition elbowing for recognition, the committee may minimize Washington given their performance last year in the playoffs. They’ll need to be awfully impressive in dispatching the remainder of a conference that has no other high-powered teams, with USC, Oregon, and Stanford all taking a step back this season.
BT: This question really seems kind of relative. For most of the 1-loss teams, many never even expected them to be this close, so saying Virginia Tech is in danger doesn’t have the same ring to it as saying Clemson is in danger. More than likely, a loss for any of these teams is elimination, unless there is some major chaos across the nation in the next few weeks.
So, I’ll kind of rephrase your question into: who is most likely to be eliminated? I think that one goes to Oklahoma. They haven’t exactly been a consistent team—what with their long-time coach gone, and I think they are very likely to falter in big moments, despite their obvious talent. And they have plenty of big moments coming in games against TCU, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia.
With the unsteady play by the PAC 12 and the ACC, as well as the cannibalization in the Big 12, is this the year that a conference gets two teams in? Penn State-Ohio State, Alabama-Georgia, Bedlam winner-TCU, etc.
OWB: This year’s situation, as it stands today, represents the best chance since the playoffs began for aconference to get two teams in. Georgia looks good, and if they play Bama close in the SECCG, that could set the stage for both teams to get in, especially if Miami or TCU falls, and Ohio State beats Penn State this weekend. On that note, if the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes both have a single loss heading into selection day, there’s a chance both could sneak in if Bama blows up Georgia’s spot.
BT: Is it possible? Yeah. If things play out right. That said, I imagine the committee will lean towards not having two conferences in there if there is any question at all about which teams are worthy. Penn State and Ohio State will be the most likely of the pairs you mentioned to make it in, due to the overall middle strength of the Big 10 this year and the media’s love for Penn State.
The playoff committee has, by and large, seemed to use old BCS computer rankings to determine the field, especially when making determinations between No. 4 - 8. As they go, they cobble together differing reasons each week for its Top 25. Should we just use a BCS plus-one model, or is the playoff format preferable? Why?
OWB: I was fine with the BCS system, in all honesty, but I like the current system a little better. That said, an eight-team playoff could be even more interesting, though an such a field playoff would likely need to be the terminus for expansion for the foreseeable future. Any bigger and it would get out of hand, and the concentration of excellent football would be diluted, along with the attention it would garner.
But, for example, an eight-team bracket could easily be filled by quality teams this season (like, say, Bama, Penn State, Ohio State, Clemson, Oklahoma, TCU, Georgia, and Wisconsin).
BT: My analytical, engineering gut tells me that sticking to the old BCS computer system is the way to go, as it is unfazed by emotion and bias. That said, in the first 3 years of the playoffs, I’ve generally agreed with the committee’s rankings almost every week, and they do a good job of not falling to the media bias of loving overrated teams. I didn’t think I’d like the playoffs at all, but so far I haven’t been disappointed. But then, Alabama hasn’t been left out at #5 yet. So that could change in the future.
Do you see the playoffs expanding in 2026 when the present deals are up? And, should they?
OWB: Yes, there will likely be an expansion to eight teams because that seems to be in keeping with the undercurrent of sentiment among fans. Advertisers will certainly embrace it, and that means ESPN and other broadcast media will slavishly pimp the notion over the airwaves for increased revenue.
Money leads to action in the entertainment industry, and as warrior-poets Wu Tang Clan instructed us in the 36 Chambers, “Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M, get the money, dolla-dolla bill, y’all.”
BT: Probably. People like to change things. So something will probably change. Were it me (and I’ve touted this idea for years now), I’d run the playoffs similar to half of the NFL playoffs. 6 teams are in. The top 4 teams are the four best conference champions, with 1 and 2 seeds and the bye week going to the best two teams. Teams 3 and 4 will get home field advantage over teams 5 and 6, who are two at large teams. Since there are 5 major conferences, then the 5th champion will obviously be given first consideration for one of the final two spots, but if there are two at-large teams more impressive, then the 5th champion could be ousted.
Switching gears for a second, who is the Group of Five champion and making a big money bowl?
OWB: TCU?…#IkeedIkeed No really, it has to be one of the two Florida teams currently sitting undefeated.
Both USF and UCF are decent, quality football programs in two top-20 media markets (Tampa/ USF is 11th , Orlando/ UCF is 19th ). I could see the winner of the late November match-up of the two teams making a little noise if they run the table. UCF is a heavy favorite in that game, for what it’s worth, so my money is on them.
BT: Up until they messed around and lost to Boise State, I thought SDSU was going to run away with it. Now, as long as they both take care of business the rest of the season, the winner of the UCF and South Florida showdown at the end of the year will be a shoe-in, though Memphis is chomping at their heels. To pick between the two, I’m going with UCF, as I really like QB Mckenzie Milton.
Can one-loss Notre Dame overtake a one-loss conference champion for inclusion in the field? Why or why not.
OWB: No. Because Notre Dame is garbage and everybody knows it. You know it’s true, Erik. Next question…
BT: I don’t think Notre Dame could overtake a 1-loss conference champ. Penn State or Ohio State would have too many good wins on their resumes. As will the winner of Bama-Georgia. I think that the Washington-Wazzu winner will get enough boost from that to get them over the hump, as will whoever comes out of the Big 12 mess. The only way I could see it happening is if one of the P5 conferences (probably the Pac 12) ends up with a 2-win champ, and it comes down to Notre Dame vs the ACC, who is represented by a 1-loss Virginia Tech. Then the fighting leprechauns just might make it in.
Finally, what is your end-of- season projected field and seeding, including national champion.
1) Bama vs. 4) Clemson; 2) Ohio State vs. 3) TCU
1) Bama vs 2) Ohio State
‘Bama takes #17 by 10 points
BT: 1-Alabama, 2-TCU, 3-Ohio State, 4-Washington. Alabama over TCU
So, what do you think? What did we get right? Who erred and why? LEave comments, praises, fling poo etc in the comments below.
We’ll be back tomorrow with Part Three. No gamethreads tonight, BTW: The games all suck out loud. If you must comment, you can use this as your sounding board.