Really, what if there were a playoff?

Really, what if there were a playoff?

Published Jan. 15, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

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 postseason, 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 percent 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 would 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 — fans aren't going to travel to three neutral 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 would still watch it if there's an eight-team playoff.

So what would have likely happened had the CFN system been in place in 2011? Here’s the best guess with the seedings and the results:

Final BCS ranking in parentheses

ACC – Clemson (15)
Big East – West Virginia (23)
Big Ten – Wisconsin (10)
Big 12 – Oklahoma State (3)
Pac 10 – Oregon (5)
SEC – LSU (1)
Non-BCS – TCU (18)
Wild card – Alabama (2)

Bubble busted: Stanford (4), Arkansas (6), Boise State (7), South Carolina (9)

Stanford might have been the No. 4 team in the final in the final BCS rankings, but it didn't win its own division, much less the Pac-12 title. Oregon would have been ranked lower, but it won the title and blew away the Cardinal along the way. Arkansas lost to the top two teams in the BCS and would be screaming about deserving a spot in, but again, if you can't even win your division title, you don't have a beef. The same goes for Boise State, which lost the Mountain West title to TCU, and South Carolina, which didn't even win the SEC East.

First-round matchups
No. 8 West Virginia at No. 1 LSU
No. 7 TCU at No. 2 Alabama
No. 6 Clemson at No. 3 Oklahoma State
No. 5 Wisconsin at No. 4 Oregon

Matchup analysis: The Mountaineers might have gotten the passing game going in the rematch with LSU, and the Tigers might let down a little bit thinking they could easily win the second time around, but the outcome would be the same. LSU would get through in more of a dogfight than it would like. TCU's offense would have a hard time getting going against the Tide D, and the Horned Frogs' run defense would show that things aren't quite the same as previous seasons. Clemson and Oklahoma State would come up with an up-and-down the field shootout with the Cowboys coming through in a game that would obliterate the over. Speaking of high scoring shootouts, the last team with the ball would win in the Oregon-Wisconsin matchup. The Ducks would be too strong in the second half.

Projected Final Four
Rose Bowl – No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State
Sugar Bowl – No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Oregon

Matchup analysis: The LSU-Oregon rematch would be a bit different. The Ducks' running game would work with far more production on the outside than in the first game, but LSU's power running game will take over in the second half and hold on to the ball long enough to control the battle. Oklahoma State would wing the ball around the yard 50 times, but the Tide would come up with three picks and the balanced offense would be enough to come up with a good, decisive win.

Projected National Championship Game: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama
Projected national champion: No. 2 Alabama

Matchup analysis: The Alabama defense would shut down the LSU offense cold. Although the Tide attack wouldn't come up with an even performance, it would do enough to move the ball to set up a slew of field goal attempts. The Tigers offense won't have any answers as the jacked-up Tide D will make a statement in a dominant national championship victory.