With College Football right around the corner, the buildup for the new season has begun all across the United States. One of the more popular conversations has been whether the College Football Playoff should expand or not. With the college football landscape changing vastly over the next few years, playoff expansions seem inevitable. With that being said we can only wonder what would happen if they had expanded the playoffs in the past.
We are going to go back and select the top 6 teams in the Final College Football Playoff Rankings and put them into a bracket. Why 6? I feel like 6 teams best expand the playoffs as the top 2 seeds get a reward for their play throughout the year. While 8 teams make them play the same amount of games as everyone else which could tire teams out. From there we will then simulate the games using the RTT Simulator to figure out wether the results of the matchups. Lastly, we are going to discuss the results and how the matchups could change
Where to Start
Although they were always rumors, the talks of expansion really started to heat up in the 2021 summer. Rather than looking at only one year of hypothetical expanded playoffs, we will go back to the 2017-18 season. A sample size of 5 seasons really shows us the potential of how an expanded playoff would compare to the regular 4 team playoff.
This season was arguably one of the most competitive and entertaining playoffs we have ever seen. In the four-team bracket, we saw a double OT thriller between Oklahoma and Georgia in the Rose Bowl and a Bama upset Clemson after barely making the playoff.
In this new version, we have #1 Clemson and #2 Oklahoma on bye while #3 Georgia takes on #6 Wisconsin and #4 Alabama takes on #5 Ohio State.
Wisconsin behind a strong running game is able to take an early halftime lead on the Dawgs. Going into the second half the Badgers don’t get risky and pound the clock out behind Johnathon Taylor. The Badgers get the upset 38-28 and head to the Rose Bowl. On the other side #4 Bama has a vengeful game after a week of rest due to not playing in the conference championship game. They dominate Ohio State 45-24 to go to the Sugar Bowl.
After a week of rest #2, Oklahoma takes care of business against Wisconsin in an offensive game. Baker Mayfield’s throwing ability is able to outscore the Badgers 56-48. Meanwhile, in the Sugar Bowl, a tired Bama team never musters enough offense to beat Clemson leading to a 13-9 Tiger victory.
In the National Championship featuring #1 Clemson and #2 Oklahoma, the Sooner offense is able to pick apart the Clemson defense winning their first national championship in the CFP era 34-28.
Looking at this new playoff the biggest thing to note is Tua never wins a national championship which never makes him the starting QB. Also with a national championship, Lincoln Riley probably never gets lured away from Oklahoma.
Champion: Oklahoma Sooners
The original playoff featured #1 Alabama vs #4 Oklahoma and #2 Clemson vs #3 Notre Dame. The new playoff has #1 Clemson (with Hurts leading Bama) and #2 Alabama on bye while #3 Notre Dame plays #6 Ohio St. and #4 Oklahoma plays #5 Georgia.
Many college football fans would say Georgia was snubbed from the CFP this year and the Dawgs prove them right. They avenge their semi-final loss last year by beating OU 45-42. In the other game, Haskins leads OSU to a 33-24 victory over Notre Dame.
In the semifinal matchups, Clemson and Alabama take care of business as you recall both of those teams were the best two teams in college football. Clemson beat Georgia 31-16 and Bama beat OSU 31-21.
With Jalen Hurt at QB Bama actually stick with Clemson for a while before eventually, Trevor Lawerence leads the Tigers to the title. Bama falls 38-24 in a much tighter title game.
With a disappointing offensive campaign, the entire 2018-19 season Tua is able to win the Bama job over the offseason which leads Hurts to OU the following season. So far there has been an upset in the first round for both years, but other than that we got the same Championship matchup and winner.
Champion: Clemson Tigers
The original playoff featured #1 LSU vs #4 Oklahoma and #2 Clemson vs #3 Ohio State.
The new playoff gives #1 LSU and #2 Clemson the bye while #4 Oklahoma takes on #5 Georgia and #3 Ohio State plays #6 Florida.
The Sooners are able to find a way through Georgia behind their slower offense led by Jalen Hurts. The Sooners grab a late victory 31-28. Meanwhile, OSU blow Florida out 51-24 behind their high-powered offense led by Justin Fields.
While the game isn’t as good as it was originally Clemson is able to outlast OSU 31-28. LSU still thrashes OU although not as bad with a 49-31 victory.
LSU continues their dominant streak in the finals where they rout Clemson 41-24.
No one really could possibly touch this team and the simulator seemed to understand that pretty well giving everything to the Tigers to finish their iconic season.
Champion: LSU Tigers
The original playoff featured #1 Alabama vs #4 Notre Dame and #2 Clemson vs #3 Ohio State.
The new playoff gives #1 Alabama and #2 Clemson the bye while #4 Notre Dame takes on #5 Texas A&M and #3 Ohio State plays #6 Oklahoma.
Notre Dame starts the first round by taking care of business vs Texas AM 38-31 exposing the A&M defense in a big win. In the other game, Oklahoma and Ohio State go back in forth in an offensive shutdown. OU, the hottest team coming into the playoff pulls the upset 45-41 to advance.
Rattler and co then go on to knock off the Clemson Tigers by outscoring their opponent once again. OU wins 41-36. Bama is able to take care of business by blowing out the Irish 42-14.
Oklahoma’s hot streak, unfortunately, ends in the national championship as a dominant Bama team claims the crown despite a brilliant fight from the Sooners. Alabama wins 52-45.
Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide
The original playoff featured #1 Alabama vs #4 Cincinnati and #2 Michigan vs #3 Georgia.
The new playoff gives #1 Alabama and #2 Michigan the bye while #4 Cincinnati takes on #5 Notre Dame and #3 Georgia plays #6 Ohio State.
Notre Dame avenges their loss against Cincinnati earlier in the year by putting on an offensive showcase. The Irish make it into the semis with a 31-24. The Bulldogs get beat around but eventually knock off the pesky Buckeyes 37-31.
Bama is able to get past the high-flying Notre Dame offense with their dominant defense. The low-scoring affair helps Bama win 31-14. The well-rested Wolverines are able to put a much better game up than they did in real life. The tired Buckeyes fall in the Orange Bowl to the Wolverines 27- 23.
In a defensive battle, both teams hold each other to under 24 points with Michigan getting the last laugh. A late Wolverine touchdown gives them the lead and a strip sack seals the game. The Wolverines win their first title in the CFP era.
Champion: Michigan Wolverines
The expanded playoff certainly makes things a lot more interesting from a fan perspective. From a player’s point of view, it would be an extra game that they have to play besides the top two teams that are on bye. Two teams also won their first national championship in the CFP era likely due to more fatigue setting in during those semi-final games. Compared to the original playoffs I would argue the expanded playoffs bring in more interest to college football and creates better competition. In similar competitions you have to win multiple games to be crowned champion, why should college football be any different?
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