The College Football Playoff: What If It Had Been Eight?

The first ever College Football Playoff bracket is set. There was so much potential for a shake-up going into the weekend, but in the end there was little surprise when the dust settled.

Ok, But it’s Thursday. Most of the debates over whether the right decision was made have faded away. However, there are still other questions that can be asked. Many of them center around who will come out on top and who will fall early, but there are also some questions already centering around the future of the College Football Playoffs.

Currently, it is a four-team bracket. There are those, however, who believe that the ideal format would be double that. There are many who feel the ideal setup would be a total of eight teams going into the postseason tournament. While this idea has been argued and hashed out before the College Football Playoff even became official,  now that the teams have been set, the debate has resurfaced.

The articles on the practicality of this system have begun to pop up all over. There are arguments for both side; some feel it should stay in its current form while others feel this is only a stepping stone to an eventual eight-team bracket. But what if they had jumped straight to the eight-team format? What if the selection committee had called four more names Sunday night? Who would those teams be and who would still be sitting on the sideline?

Obviously, there is no need to name the first for teams. This writer, along with many others, believes the selection committee got the teams right. So the question now lies with the next four in. Who would benefit from an expansion in the bracket?

The Big 12 would get some love

Baylor and TCU fans would love such an expansion. Both teams would easily make the final eight teams. Not only are these the two remaining top 25 teams with only one on the season, but Baylor won their conference championship and TCU’s lone blemish was a three-point loss to the Bears in October. These are also two of the most exciting offenses in the country; both can put up 50-plus points any given night.

With these two teams in, each major conference would be represented by their conference champion. It seems a little too simple, but it safe to say this wouldn’t be annual thing. If there had been an eight-team bracket made last year, the Pac 12 would not have even been represented. It is a rare occurrence that the top five teams in the nation each also be the top team in their conference.

So with this in mind, Baylor would receive the fifth seed, and TCU would take the sixth. Based on strength of schedule, there could be some arguments made for TCU jumping their conference opponent in for that fifth spot. But considering Baylor won their head-to-head matchup and  won their conference championship, the Bears would deserve that fifth spot.

It would follow the rankings…almost

Almost assuredly, the final two spots would be filled by following the current rankings with No. 7 Mississippi State and No. 8 Michigan State filling out the bracket. Not only are these teams two of the three remaining two-loss teams in the Top 25, they also have a resume that stands out above the rest of the field.

Mississippi State plays in, debatably, the best conference in football with one of their losses coming to the top team in the nation. Their loan blemish came in their last game of the season with a loss to Ole Miss. Without that loss, they would have easily made an argument for the five or six seed –maybe even a trip to the College Football Playoff– but with that loss they just barely make the final cut for this pool of eight.

While Michigan State’s slate of wins may be less impressive than the SEC-hardened Bulldogs, they’re two losses both came to teams that are now currently in the CFP (Ohio State and Oregon). The loss to Oregon came in their second game of season at Oregon; the Ohio State loss may have been the loss that kept them out of the Playoff. That being said, it would not keep the Spartans out of this fictional eight-team.

While the bottom two teams of the top eight would be the same as they are in the rankings, this writer believes Michigan State would actually claim the No. 7 seed. They’re resume is just simply stronger than Mississippi State and their loan losses came to the top four teams in the nation. The Bulldogs can’t claim that.

How it would look

So here is how it would look:

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For the first matchup, we would have an SEC rematch. This might be the sole reason why Mississippi State would actually get the 7 seed if this were to actually take place, but for the sake of this article, it would be one interesting matchup to watch. The other three matchups would not only be out of conference opponents, but it would also be the first time any of these teams have met all season.

It would be interesting for sure. Whether or not this will actually happen some day is a whole other question. Whether or not this is a realistic list to make could be debated for days. But one thing is certain: if this had somehow happened this year, it would have made for one exciting postseason. There is an opportunity for an upset in every game. Some games offer redemption, while others could an opportunity for a new rivalry to be born. There would be plenty of offense and even some defense too. It would be one beautiful slate of college football action.

Man, I wish this was actually a thing.

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