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The Case For An 8 Team CFB Playoff Has Never Been Better


Pressbox is a column here on The Sideline. It serves as a medium for writers to rant about some of the hottest takes in the sports world. Read all Pressbox rants here.

The best thing to happen to FBS football was the transition from BCS bowl games to the College Football Playoff/New Year’s 6 bowl games. This eliminated controversial rankings at the 1 and 2 spot, and it provided next level entertainment, to the joy of all involved.

When the original four-team College Football Playoff was announced, the wishes of many for a very long time finally came true. Why not give the #4 team a shot at the title? These are teams that struggle early on but claw their way to the top towards the end of the season, or the undefeateds that lose their conference championship, or the teams that drop one game in the middle of the season.

It’s funny that I say that because in the very first edition of the CFB playoffs, the #4 seed Ohio State won.

We got our wish. As a die hard fan of Boise State, I was thrilled to see doors open for Cinderella teams to be the kings of college football. However, as we near the third year of our beloved playoffs it has become evident that the four-team format is  good, it just isn’t enough.

The Problem

You could argue that this year is just “different” and it won’t happen for a long time. However, the main issue in this year’s playoffs is that the field is too small. You could make a case that the top six teams in the current College Football Playoff Rankings are playoff teams. The sad part is, two teams will be left out.

Too many solid teams with not enough spots? That sounds like the same exact problem we had with the BCS format. That is pretty ironic.

Heisman hopeful Lamar Jackson will not get a shot at a national championship. Chris Petersen may not get to show why he’s an elite coach. Jabril Peppers or J.T. Barrett won’t be able to showcase their talents on the biggest of stages.

It’s time we expand.

The Solution

An eight-team playoff is the way to go for the CFB Playoffs. It’s not too many teams, and it avoids losing out on any teams that could really make a run for the title. Lamar Jackson could dance around Nick Saban, Jake Browning can throw against the elite defense of Clemson. Think of the possibilities!

Now let’s get into the details.

The playoffs would be an eight-team format. The winners of the power five conferences get an automatic bid into the playoffs (Yes, Big 12, you will need to figure out your conference championship issues). The highest ranked group five team that has also won their conference gets a spot. Two wild cards will be picked from the rest of the field. Now as far as the seeding goes; that will be determined by the CFB Playoff committee. Similar to their current top-25 rankings, the seeds of the playoffs would be determined by where each playoff team stands in the rankings.

Now Ohio State could afford to lose to Michigan (or Michigan loses to OSU). A SEC team who just quite couldn’t overcome Alabama could still have hope.

This doesn’t add the scheduling issues that a sixteen-team format would bring, and it doesn’t cut off possibilities of a Cinderella team.

Any Questions?

What if there are no Group 5 teams ranked?

In this case, there would be a third wild card spot.

This year the Big 12 is most likely not going to have a playoff team. Why give teams who don’t deserve a shot a chance?

If a team doesn’t deserve a chance at the title but then wins the title, they clearly deserved it. Oklahoma State shouldn’t have lost to Central Michigan (That’s not saying if certain things happened. The refs actually cost them the game). Oklahoma, who are currently ranked higher than Oklahoma State, yes I’ll concede that they probably don’t deserve a spot. But in that case, the playoffs will weed out the underserved teams.

Why not a six-team format? Group 5 teams don’t deserve a chance if they play easy teams every week.

Like I said earlier, I’m a huge Boise State fan. You can assume (and assume correctly) I love Cinderella stories. However, that doesn’t blind me from the fact teams have poor resumes then freeze when they play big teams (see: Northern Illinois vs. Florida State). But you have to look at Boise State. In 2007 nobody had even heard of the Broncos. Going up against Adrian Peterson? No way they win. What’s their conference? The WAC? Oh boy. Well, Boise took their chance and stunned the world. The door opened for teams like Western Michigan to gain more headlines on ESPN.

College football is growing and the playoffs have to as well. The 4 team CFB playoff gives teams with 2 losses around week 9 no chance to keep fighting for glory. The transition to a playoff format has been successful but it hasn’t worked out its flaws. This new format would do just that.




Noah Ziegler View All

I write about the beautiful game. From the smallest islands to the biggest teams, it all will be covered.

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