Here is yet another article to address the same old question of why Division III football, Division II football, and Division I FCS football know how playoffs work but Division I FBS football can’t figure out. But rather than complain or show why they’re wrong, let’s just pretend they know that they are wrong and they need a 16-team bracket for this year. So obviously they would pick me to do this – right? Well, they didn’t, but I came up with a bracket for them anyways. You’re welcome.
#1 Clemson vs. winner of Troy vs. Penn State
Clemson gets this spot because the College Football Playoff Committee put them at #1 already. Like I said, I’m not here to say they are wrong, I’m just giving ideas of how it can expand, so the top four teams in this bracket will remain the same.
Realistically, I could have just said #1 Clemson vs. #16 Penn State. However, as you will see, I made sure to include every conference champion in the bracket. I did debate leaving Troy out of the bracket because they did not have a championship game (the Sun Belt Conference will have a championship game starting in 2018), but ultimately decided I’d let them in. That being said, they have to play against Saquon Barkley and a Penn State team that looked destined for the playoffs and a Big 10 championship until they lost to Ohio State by one point and then to Michigan State by a field goal the following week.
Projected play-in winner: Penn State pulls through with a 38-13 victory over Troy.
Projected winner: Clemson. Despite Penn State’s convincing victory over Troy, the defending national champions prove to be too much for the Nittany Lions. Clemson advances to the Elite 8 with a 45-27 victory.
#2 Oklahoma vs. #15 Toledo
Oklahoma also is a mere formality since they were already selected for the playoffs. Their opponent on the other hand makes it in as the champions of the Mid-American Conference. They overcame Akron University in their conference championship, thus giving them a spot in my playoff bracket.
Projected winner: Oklahoma. Toledo doesn’t belong here, and their fans better leave Baker Mayfield alone so he might show some pity on them. Oklahoma advances with a resounding 59-13 victory.
#3 Georgia vs. #14 Florida Atlantic
Georgia stays at #3 and doesn’t have to play a pissed off Baker Mayfield right away. But what they do have to face is the Eastern Mississippi Community College Lions who are this year’s NJCAA National Champions – nevermind, it’s just a Florida Atlantic team that is seemingly filled with former EMCC players from Netflix’s ‘Last Chance U.’ As if three big Netflix stars (QB Deandre Johnson, WR John Franklin III, and DE Tim Bonner) wasn’t enough, their head coach Lane Kiffin has made a name for himself on social media recently. This game could have lots of media hype heading into it.
Projected winner: Georgia. As much as this has Cinderella story written all over it, I think Georgia is too good to let that happen – Georgia narrowly avoids being the first team in FBS history to be the victim of a Cinderella story with a 34-31 victory over FAU.
#4 Alabama vs. #13 Notre Dame
Alabama rounds out the top four according to the College Football Playoff Committee. And their opponent is a team that looked like they might have been in top four contention until they were obliterated by Miami (FL) the second week in November. Prior to that, Notre Dame’s only loss had been a 20-19 loss to #3 Georgia. This game is probably the best match-up in the Sweet 16.
Projected winner: Notre Dame. Alabama is Alabama, but even the mighty fall. I give this one to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in a 28-23 game that goes right down to the wire.
#5 Ohio State vs. #12 Texas Christian
Ohio State won the Big 10 Championship Game over Wisconsin, who had previously gone undefeated. Because of this, and the Big 10 being the Big 10, Ohio State earns the #5 spot in the playoffs. Their opponents are the runner-ups in the Big 12, the TCU Horned Frogs. Leading up to the Big 12 Championship, TCU was considered to be on the brink of a College Football Playoff spot if they managed to beat Oklahoma. However, Baker Mayfield had other plans as he lead the Sooners over the Horned Frogs 41-17. Because of that loss and not being a conference champion, TCU drops to #12.
Projected winner: TCU. Ohio State has looked very beatable this year. They were trailing Indiana in week one until they ran away with a W in the fourth quarter, then Mayfield and Oklahoma beat Ohio State convincingly in Ohio, then later on Iowa blew out Ohio State 55-24. While they did win the Big 10 against an undefeated Wisconsin team, I don’t see them being able to go far in this playoff, and it ends here as TCU pulls out a 34-23 victory.
#6 Southern California vs. #11 Central Florida
As PAC 12 Champions, Sam Darnold and the University of Southern California Trojans lock up the #6 seed in these playoffs. Their opponents are also conference champions, from the American Athletic Conference. They are lead by passionate linebacker Shaquem Griffin, whose brother Shaquill plays for the Seattle Seahawks. I could go into much more depth on Shaquem and how he plays with only one hand, but there have been many articles already written about him that you can look up if you want – and I recommend you do because he has quite an inspirational story.
Projected winner: UCF. They went 12-0 and are conference champions, they beat two different ranked opponents (Memphis twice and Southern Florida), and they have yet to score less than 31 points (they were held to 31 by SMU and Navy). While USC is great and all, it only takes one game. UCF wins this one 31-27.
#7 Wisconsin vs. #10 Boise State
Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien (4) passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State in Boise, Idaho, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)
Wisconsin deserves to be in the playoffs. Prior to a narrow defeat in the Big 10 Championship to Ohio State, they were undefeated. In this match-up, I believe they are grateful to be the higher seed and not have to travel to Boise, Idaho to face the Broncos on their blue field. Boise has knocked off some big teams before. These two teams have only faced each other once in their schools’ history, and that was a game in Wisconsin, in 1997, that Wisconsin won 28-24.
Projected winner: Wisconsin. The Badgers had one bad game this year and it just happened to be at the worst time possible. They win this one 38-14.
#8 Miami (FL) vs. #9 Auburn
Remember when I said that Alabama vs. Notre Dame was the best match-up in this Sweet 16? Yeah, I take that back right now. The U looked like they had returned to their glory days of the 90’s, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Willis McGahee, Reggie Wayne, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and I’ll just stop there because my point is those glory days were glorious. However, they lost back-to-back games to end the season and they weren’t really close. Whereas Auburn was a dark horse candidate for the playoffs until they lost to Georgia. Remember, while they did lose three games (Georgia, LSU, and Clemson), they also beat Alabama.
Projected winner: Miami. This one is going to not one, not two, not three, not four… Okay maybe just two overtimes in South Beach is what it will take for Miami to advance with a 37-34 victory.