What if no BCS, just College Football Playoff?

Iowa likely makes 3 major bowl/playoff appearances, maybe even 4 in 16 years

Scott Dochterman
Published: May 27 2013 | 5:45 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 3:51 pm in
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Beginning with the 2014 season, a four-team national playoff will replace the Bowl Championship Series. The College Football Playoff will consist of four teams playing in semifinal action, and eight more competing in high-caliber bowls. A committee will determine the selections and the slotting.

When considering this new era, it's easy to wonder what if this new playoff structure was enacted instead of the BCS for the 1998 season? Also, what if six primary bowls always were the norm instead of four (1998-2005) or five (2006-present)?

So looking back through the BCS era, I put together each season's likely playoff field plus the four other bowls. I used the current rotation (Rose and Sugar will host the 2014 season's semifinals) and stuck with the current parameters. That means the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC and Pac-12 champions automatically qualify. Also, when the Rose and Sugar are not semifinals, those bowls automatically pick up the current contracted match-ups (Big Ten vs. Pac-12 and SEC vs. Big 12).

On non-semifinal years the Orange Bowl receives the ACC champion, and it faces either the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame. Additionally, at least one other conference must be represented (the former Big East counts in this hypothetical).

So here's how it would work with each season's BCS rankings as a guideline. But, again, the selection committee will overrule any rankings. Plus, travel and tradition do not count, unlike in past selections. Also don't weigh that season's bowl results in making the match-ups. These games are based before the bowls take place. (* means automatic qualifier)

Orange (semifinal): 1. Notre Dame vs. 3. Florida*

Cotton (semifinal): 2. Alabama* vs. 6. Stanford*

Rose: Wisconsin* vs. 4. Oregon

Sugar: 7. Georgia vs. 5. Kansas State*

Peach: 12. Florida State vs. 15. Northern Illinois*

Fiesta: 11. Oklahoma vs. 9. Texas A&M

Breakdown: As Pac-12 champion and winner of their head-to-head match-up, Stanford trumps Oregon. Stanford ultimately is considered a better choice than Kansas State for final slot. Alabama and Florida split to avoid Notre Dame-Stanford rematch. Despite a head-to-head loss, late-charging Texas A&M trumps LSU for Fiesta slot. Committee opts for Oklahoma over SEC teams LSU and South Carolina.

Rose (semifinal): 2. Alabama vs. 5. Oregon*

Sugar (semifinal): 1. LSU* vs. 3. Oklahoma State*

Orange: 15. Clemson* vs. 13. Michigan

Cotton: 6. Arkansas vs. 10. Wisconsin*

Fiesta: 4. Stanford vs. 7. Boise State*

Peach: 8. Kansas State vs. 9. South Carolina

Breakdown: Oregon trumps Stanford with head-to-head win and conference title. Committee splits LSU-Oregon to avoid rematch. Michigan's strong end of regular season earns bid over 12th-ranked Virginia Tech.

Peach (semifinal): 1. Auburn* vs. 5. Wisconsin*

Fiesta (semifinal): 2. Oregon* vs. 3. TCU*

Rose: 9. Michigan State vs. 4. Stanford

Sugar: 7. Oklahoma* vs. 8. Arkansas

Orange: 11. LSU vs. 13. Virginia Tech*

Cotton: 6. Ohio State vs. 10. Boise State

Breakdown: On basis of conference title and one fewer loss, co-Big Ten champion Wisconsin jumps over at-large Stanford.

Orange (semifinal): 1. Alabama* vs. 3. Cincinnati*

Cotton (semifinal): 2. Texas* vs. 4. TCU

Rose: 7. Oregon* vs. 8. Ohio State*

Sugar: 5. Florida vs. 22. Nebraska

Fiesta: 6. Boise State vs. 10. Iowa

Peach: 9. Georgia Tech* vs. 13. Penn State

Breakdown: TCU and Cincinnati flip spots to provide geographical semifinal. Committee considers Nebraska better than Oklahoma State for Big 12's Sugar Bowl slot. Penn State jumps LSU and Virginia Tech based on human poll rankings.

Rose (semifinal): 1. Oklahoma* vs. 5. USC*

Sugar (semifinal): 2. Florida* vs. 3. Texas

Orange: 10. Ohio State vs. 19. Virginia Tech*

Cotton: 6. Utah* vs. 7. Texas Tech

Fiesta: 8. Penn State* vs. 11. TCU

Peach: 4. Alabama vs. 9. Boise State

Breakdown: USC edges Alabama for final slot based on USC's Pac-10 title and Alabama's convincing loss in SEC title game.

Fiesta (semifinal): 1. Ohio State* vs. 4. Oklahoma*

Peach (semifinal): 2. LSU* vs. 3. Virginia Tech*

Rose: 13. Illinois vs. 7. USC*

Sugar: 5. Georgia vs. 6. Missouri

Orange: 14. Boston College vs. 12. Florida

Cotton: 8. Kansas vs. 9. West Virginia*

Breakdown: A hot mess of a season breaks down rather easily in a four-team playoff. Boston College and Florida fill the ACC's and SEC's respective Orange slots, and Illinois takes Big Ten's Rose bid. The pre-arranged bowl deals push those teams past 10th-ranked Hawaii.

Cotton (semifinal): 1. Ohio State* vs. 5. USC*

Orange (semifinal): 2. Florida* vs. 3. Michigan

Rose: 6. Wisconsin vs. 18. California

Sugar: 4. LSU vs. 10. Oklahoma*

Fiesta: 8. Boise State vs. 9. Auburn

Peach: 6. Louisville* vs. 14. Wake Forest*

Breakdown: USC's Pac-10 title trumps LSU's runner-up SEC West finish. No. 11 Notre Dame left out based on criteria (never would happen under any other system).

Rose (semifinal): 1. USC* vs. 3. Penn State*

Sugar (semifinal): 2. Texas* vs. 4. Ohio State

Orange: 8. Miami* vs. 6. Notre Dame

Cotton: 9. Auburn vs. 11. Virginia Tech

Fiesta: 5. Oregon vs. 12. LSU

Peach: 7. Georgia* vs. 11. West Virginia*

Breakdown: Penn State and Ohio State flip to schedule traditional Pac-10/Big Ten match-up of champions. Pretty much a straight-forward postseason alignment except for no SEC team (seriously) in the semifinals.

Fiesta (semifinal): 1. USC* vs. 3. Auburn*

Peach (semifinal): 2. Oklahoma* vs. 5. California

Rose: 13. Michigan* vs. 19. Arizona State

Sugar: 4. Texas vs. 7. Georgia

Orange: 8. Virginia Tech* vs. 12. Iowa

Cotton: 6. Utah* vs. 11. LSU

Breakdown: Committee would overrule late-season poll jump by Texas over California for final semifinal slot. California would face Oklahoma to avoid rematch with USC. Two-loss Iowa and LSU considered stronger at-large teams than one-loss Louisville (No. 10) and Boise State (No. 11).

Cotton (semifinal): 1. Oklahoma* vs. 4. Michigan*

Orange (semifinal): 2. LSU* vs. 3. USC*

Rose: 5. Ohio State vs. 16. Washington State

Sugar: 6. Texas vs. 8. Tennessee

Fiesta: 9. Miami* vs. 10. Kansas State

Peach: 7. Florida State* vs. 12. Georgia

Breakdown: A disaster of a BCS season that resulted in a split title would have a clean-cut semifinal field. SEC East Division champion Georgia edges 13th-ranked Iowa and 11th-ranked Miami (Ohio).

Sugar (semifinal): 1. Miami* vs. 3. Georgia*

Rose (semifinal): 2. Ohio State* vs. 5. Iowa

Peach: 8. Kansas State* vs. 11. Michigan

Cotton: 6. Washington State* vs. 10. Texas

Orange: 14. Florida State* vs. 9. Notre Dame

Fiesta: 4. USC vs. 7. Oklahoma

Breakdown: Iowa outranks USC in both human polls, boasts unbeaten Big Ten season and has one fewer loss. Committee pushes Ohio State-Iowa match-up in Rose Bowl because teams didn't meet in regular season.

Peach (semifinal): 1. Miami* vs. 3. Colorado*

Fiesta (semifinal): 2. Nebraska vs. 4. Oregon*

Rose: 8. Illinois* vs. 9. Stanford

Sugar: 11. Oklahoma vs. 13. LSU*

Orange: 10. Maryland* vs. 5. Florida

Cotton: 6. Tennessee vs. 7. Texas

Breakdown: Colorado and Oregon flip to avoid Colorado-Nebraska rematch. Stout year for the Big 12, which had four selections.

Cotton (semifinal): 1. Oklahoma* vs. 3. Miami*

Orange (semifinal): 2. Florida State* vs. 4. Washington*

Rose: Purdue* vs. 6. Oregon State

Sugar: 7. Florida* vs. 8. Nebraska

Fiesta: 9. Kansas State vs. 10. Oregon

Peach: 5. Virginia Tech vs. 11. Notre Dame

Breakdown: Miami and Washington flip to avoid Florida State- Miami non-conference rematch. It's shocking to see the SEC and Big Ten each land just one qualifier.

Rose (semifinal): 2. Virginia Tech* vs. 3. Nebraska*

Sugar (semifinal): 1. Florida State* vs. 4. Alabama*

Orange: Georgia Tech vs. 8. Michigan

Cotton: 5. Tennessee vs. 6. Kansas State

Peach: 9. Michigan State vs. 10. Florida

Fiesta: Stanford* vs. 7. Wisconsin*

Breakdown: There was no year as simple to put together as this one. Even the original Florida State-Virginia Tech match-up fit nicely.

Peach (semifinal): 1. Tennessee* vs. 4. Ohio State

Fiesta (semifinal): 2. Florida State* vs. 3. Kansas State

Rose: 5. UCLA* vs. 9. Wisconsin*

Sugar: 6. Texas A&M* vs. 8. Florida

Orange: 12. Virginia vs. 10. Tulane*

Cotton: 11. Nebraska vs. 7. Arizona

Breakdown: Unbeaten Conference USA champion Tulane knocks out 15th-ranked Big East champion Syracuse. Two at-large teams outrank their conference champions for semifinal field.

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