Monday, December 10, 2012

Handicapping the 16-Team Playoff Field

If it's the third week of December, it must be time for the 16-team FBS playoffs. The selection committee has made its at-large selections, now it's just a matter of putting together the matchups of the eight first-round games.

(OK, this is a dream-world scenario, though we can't take full credit for this format. This 16-team playoff setup was made famous by Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter and Jeff Passan in their bestseller, Death to the BCS.)

By rule, each of the 11 FBS conference champions automatically qualify for the playoff, leaving five at-large selections to the committee. Using computer rankings and strength as schedule as the primary guidelines, the committee members decided on Notre Dame, Oregon, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma as the five at-large entries. Keep in mind that a maximum of two teams per conference may qualify as wild cards, so no more than three per conference in the 16-team field.

Then these 16 teams were seeded accordingly:
  1. Notre Dame (at-large, Independent)
  2. Alabama (SEC champion)
  3. Oregon (at-large, Pac-12)
  4. Florida (at-large, SEC)
  5. Stanford (Pac-12 champion)
  6. Kansas State (Big 12 champion)
  7. Oklahoma (at-large, Big 12)
  8. Georgia (at-large, SEC)
  9. Florida State (ACC champion)
  10. Utah State (WAC champion)
  11. Wisconsin (Big Ten champion)
  12. Boise State (MWC champion)
  13. Northern Illinois (MAC champion)
  14. Louisville (Big East champion)
  15. Arkansas State (Sun Belt champion)
  16. Tulsa (C-USA champion)
The first- and second-round games would be played on campus sites, with semifinals hosted by bowls, followed by a championship game contracted out in the fashion of the Final Four. This year's semifinal bowls will be the Fiesta and Sugar, with the NCAA Division I Championship to be played at JerryWorld, a.k.a. Cowboys Stadium.


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