Friday, December 17, 2010

The 16-team playoff: 2010 version

Every year I do a mock-up of what a proper, 16-team NCAA football tournament would look like. Every year, the matchups far exceed what the bowls turned up, but perhaps not nearly as strikingly as this year.

Here's how this is structured:
1) Every conference champion gets an automatic berth. There are 11 conferences.
2) If an independent school makes the top 16 of the BCS, then the top-ranked independent school gets a spot
3) The top 5 (or 4) remaining slots are taken by the highest-ranking non-champions, as ranked by the BCS, without regard to conference. If that means 4 SEC teams, so be it.
4) This is standard bracket style, no re-seeding.
5) First round would have been played last weekend, second round this weekend. Semifinals are on NY Day, Finals the week after.
5) The first two rounds are played at the home school of the higher seed.
6) The semi-finals, national championship and 3rd place game are evenly rotated throughout the BCS bowls, Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange.

Champions:
ACC - Va Tech
Big East - UConn
Big Ten - Wisconsin
Big 12 - Oklahoma
C-USA - Central Fla.
Indys - none
MAC - Miami (OH)
MWC - TCU
Pac 10 - Oregon
SEC - Auburn
Sun Belt - FIU
WAC - Nevada

Qualifiers (with BCS ranking):
Stanford (4)
Ohio State (6)
Arkansas (8)
Michigan State (9)
Boise State (10)

So with that, here's the first round:
FIU (unr) @ Auburn (1)
Miami (OH) @ Oregon (2)
UConnn (unr) @ TCU (3)
UCF (25) @ Stanford (4)
Nevada (15) @ Wisconsin (5)
Va Tech (13) @ Ohio State (6)
Boise State (10) @ Oklahoma (7)
Michigan St. (9) @ Arkansas (8)

Only two real wasted games up there, as Auburn and Oregon would easily advance. But look at the absolute crackers at the lower end - A defensive batte at the Horseshoe? A Fiesta Bowl matchup in Norman? Michigan State vs. former Michigan QB Ryan Mallet in Arkansas? Yes please.

Second round (with likely winners)
Michigan St. (9) @ Auburn (1)
Boise St. (10) @ Oregon (2)
Ohio St. (6) @ TCU (3)
Wisconsin (5) @ Stanford (4)

Not a single bad game here, just absolute wonders top to bottom. Could the best LB corps in the USA slow down Cam Newton? Does Boise really have what it takes to go against the high-flying Ducks? You've got your traditional Rose Bowl with Bucky vs. the Tree, and let's see G. Gordon Gee live up to his talk as the Bucks go to TCU. Each one is a Gameday matchup.

Semi-finals:
Sugar Bowl - Auburn (1) vs. Wisconsin (5)
Orange Bowl - Oregon (2) vs. Ohio State (6)

Classics, both ways. And don't tell me that both games wouldn't sell out, they would.

Fiesta Bowl Natl Championship: Wisconsin (5) vs. Oregon (2)
Rose Bowl 3rd Place game: Auburn (1) vs. Ohio State (6)

Yes, I think the Badgers are better than Auburn, as they've shut down defenses with a power QB (Ohio State) before this year. But seriously, either way, wouldn't these be exciting matchups? And the 3rd place game ain't bad either.

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