In the extended postseason, we could be treated to matchups like Ole Miss vs. Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Imagine the icy breeze hitting your face, the wind chill in the low 30’s and snow flurries drifting from the sky.
That’s what Lane Kiffin and Ole Fraulein in our latest College Football Playoff 12-man mock as they march into the Big House for a first-round game in mid-December! Meanwhile, Lawrence, Kans. hosts the biggest single event in school history (basketball, dammit!), and the Vols head to LA for a night at the Coliseum. Don’t forget Jamey Chadwell and his Chanticleers driving five hours west between the hedges for a playoff game.
Look, we all know that Bowl Season wants to host the four first round playoff games of the new postseason expansion. From their perspective, we understand. Neutral Pages. Out-of-the-box amenities. warm weather climate.
But the beauty of college football (and college sports in general) is a charged campus environment steeped in pageantry. This is what separates college football from the NFL. That’s why we love it.
Our latest mock playoff showcases the different regions of our great country: the South (Georgia); the midwest (Michigan); the West (U.S.C); and the levels (Kansas). As a reminder, we’re using the exact model that CFP leaders adopted last month. The 12-team model features (1) automatic qualifiers for the top six ranked conference champions and (2) six at-large selections for the next six top ranked teams. The top four ranked conference champions will receive a bye into the second round (independents are not eligible for a bye).
Something to keep in mind: we don’t just match teams on their merits, we also use them on merits who they opposed! The tighter your schedule, the better the seed.
1. Alabama (SEC Champion)
2. Clemson (ACC Master)
3. State of Ohio (Big Ten Champion)
4. State of Oklahoma (Big 12 Champion)
5. Georgia (SEC Overall)
12. Coastal Carolina (Sunbelt Champion)
6. Michigan (Big Ten Overall)
11. Ole Miss (SEC at large)
Ann Arbor, Mich.
7th USC (Pac-12 Champion)
10 Tennessee (SEC total)
8. Kansas (Big 12 overall)
9. Pennsylvania (Big Ten overall)
Allied: Notice anything about this playoff that seems, uh, offbeat? There is only one ACC team and one Pac-12 team! These two leagues represent the new…alliance, once a three-conference pact that the Big Ten imploded with their expansion. The remaining two fielded their champion, but no one else. That seems unfair because it’s probably unfair if you’re a fan of either conference. Giving the SEC four playoff spots and the Big Ten another three playoff spots wasn’t an easy decision, but we did it anyway! Don’t worry, the season is long and your team can fight their way into the field. SEC’s Ole Miss and Tennessee advanced to the playoffs ahead of ACC’s Wake Forest, NC State and Syracuse and Pac-12’s UCLA, Oregon and Washington State. All have arguments for being in the field, but all still have something to prove. We don’t know much about the undefeated Orange just yet, but we’ll know soon (they’ll be hosting NC State in two weeks). Ditto for 5-0 UCLA, which Washington State will host Saturday in a mock game to eliminate the CFP bubble.
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Group of 5: Last week it was James Madison, and this week the Chanticleers have enough quality wins to break into the CFP as our No. 12 with their win over Georgia Southern. Keep in mind that at least the highest-ranking Group 5 champion will receive a playoff bid each year. There were many other options here. We could have picked JMU again, but what’s the fun in that? Tulane, a Houston winner, would also have been a logical pick. After all, the Wave picked up one of the best G5 wins of the year (at Kansas State). Cincinnati has to be under discussion (their only loss is in Arkansas), and then there’s coaches Kane Wommack and South Alabama, who, barring a puzzling failed fake punt against UCLA, could very well be 5-0.
Best pairing: USC vs. Tennessee. Two Blueblood programs return to glory. A pair of explosive attacks that zoom up and down the field at breakneck speed. Los Angeles in mid-December at the Coliseum. Caleb Williams and Hendon Hooker are two of the most successful quarterbacks in the country. Lincoln Riley and Josh Heupel are rising offensive gurus reviving powerhouses. Count me among them. This is a must. And the winning prize is likely to play Clemson in the Peach or Orange Bowl for a shot at advancing to the CFP semifinals.
More college football coverage:
• Wisconsin makes the most reckless layoff of the season
• Kansas proving its magical start is no coincidence
• Karl Dorrell is out in Colorado. Is Auburn next?