There are officially enough data points to start assessing teams in college football. While the 12-team playoff doesn’t start for another year or two, we are taking that message board spirit by not only irrationally predicting who would be in, but also predicting who would win those matchups. Let’s start with the rankings.
Remember that the six highest ranked conference champions receive an automatic qualifier (AQ) bid while the other six teams are at-large bids. Forgive me, as I am not the list master. That’s @fightonrusty.
1. Alabama (AQ)
A ranking system that doesn’t either have Alabama as number one or the team that beat Alabama as number one is not one that is acceptable.
2. Ohio State (AQ)
Ohio State is basically the Alabama of the Big Ten. However, the Big Ten, since they are not the SEC, is not allowed to have a team above Alabama.
3. Clemson (AQ)
Clemson beat Alabama a couple of times in the last ten years, so they get the nod over other projected conference winners.
4. USC (AQ)
The last time USC played Alabama in the state of Alabama, they actually won. This is enough to give them the fourth spot in the CFP ranking, but it was too long ago to leap over Clemson or Ohio State
5. Georgia (At-large)
Because Georgia did not get the nod over Alabama on the count that they are not Alabama, they are not eligible to be granted the first-round bye. As the number two team, however, they get the highest non-bye seed.
6. Michigan (At-large)
Michigan, as the second highest ranked at-large team, gets the six seed. This is despite no adjacency to Alabama.
7. Oklahoma State (AQ)
Oklahoma State is the highest ranked Big 12 team at the moment and gets the nod over Kansas, Kansas State and TCU because of it.
8. Tennessee (At-large)
Tennessee is guaranteed the highest quality loss that a team can have, which is to Alabama.
9. Ole Miss (At-large)
Ole Miss is also guaranteed that same quality loss that Tennessee will have earned.
10. Penn State (At-large)
Penn State once beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa. They have earned an at-large spot due to their 1990 win and their current AP poll ranking.
11. Utah (At-large)
Utah has a winning record over Alabama. No additional explanation needed.
12. Cincinnati (AQ)
Cincinnati, despite a loss to Arkansas, is the sixth highest ranked conference winner. While they have one fewer game played against their conference than Memphis, Cincinnati played Alabama more recently, so they get the nod.
#8 Tennessee vs. #9 Ole Miss
In a conference game that didn’t happen during the season, Tennessee squeaks one out to earn the right to be the first playoff sacrifice to Alabama.
#5 Georgia vs #12 Cincinnati
In a Cinderella story, if the writer was cynical and realistic, Cincinnati gets embarrassed by a far superior Georgia team.
#7 Oklahoma State vs. #10 Penn State
Upset alert! Penn State takes down Oklahoma State yet again proving that the Big XII is just the Big Ten West with an easy route to the expanded CFP.
#6 Michigan vs. #11 Utah
The last time Michigan and Utah played, Utah upset the Wolverines. However, that was in Salt Lake City. The last time Michigan and Utah played in Ann Arbor, Utah upset the Wolverines. Yeah, Utah wins this one.
#1 Alabama vs. #8 Tennessee
In a game that hadn’t happened since October 15 of this year, Alabama crushes Tennessee again.
#4 USC vs. #5 Georgia
The bye doesn’t do anything as Georgia legitimizes Lincoln Riley’s move away from the SEC. This sets up an SEC Championship rematch.
#2 Ohio State vs. #10 Penn State
In a game that hadn’t happened since October 29 of this year, Ohio State crushes Penn State again.
#3 Clemson vs. #11 Utah
In the first game ever between these two schools, Clemson shows Utah to the woodshed in a game that was over before the end of the first quarter.
Round Three: Semi-Finals
#1 Alabama vs. #5 Georgia
In one of the first watchable semi-final games, Alabama proves to Georgia who the real Alabama is.
#2 Ohio State vs. #3 Clemson
In a game that’s watchable for a half, Ohio State pulls away and proves that offenses win championships…I mean semi-final games in the playoffs.
Round Four: National Championship Game
#1 Alabama vs. #2 Ohio State
In a game that totally would not have happened in the four team setup, Alabama shows Ohio State that 2014 was the exception not the rule.