College Football Playoff: Why Four Teams Aren’t Enough

No. 1 Mississippi State remains in the driver's seat to be the top-ranked team int he playoff (Photo: USA TODAY Sports )

No. 1 Mississippi State remains in the driver’s seat to be the top-ranked team int he playoff (Photo: USA TODAY Sports )

“Four teams aren’t enough.”

I said that the second I heard that a four-team playoff was introduced to College Football. I was met with the expected response that the teams would sort it out and there would only be four deserving teams at the end of the year. I laughed. We must not have been watching the same sport for the last 10 years.

And here we are.

The season is coming to a close and there is absolute chaos. Florida State has been struggling, but looks to remain undefeated and a miracle season by Duke could have them and FSU with one loss at the end of the year. Baylor and TCU both have one loss and have already played each other (plus the Big 12 has no championship game). Alabama and Mississippi State could both end the season with one loss. Ohio State or Nebraska could end the season with one loss, as well as Oregon or Arizona State. All of this is happening and there are only three weeks left.

Let’s get into why exactly more than four teams should be in the playoff.

There are five power conferences.

Power conferences are not made alike. Using the eye test alone, the pass-happy offenses of the Big 12 are much different than the rushing attack-oriented Big 10. Each conference has its own flavor, as well as its own strengths. Who is to say that Florida State wouldn’t get a loss in the Pac 12? Who’s to say that 2-loss Kansas State wouldn’t have one loss in the Big 10? We simply don’t know because the conferences don’t really play each other. If a conference is a “power conference,” its champion should be in the playoff. There should be some sort of requirement, however, to ensure that the conference champion is one of the best teams in the nation. An example could be that the champion has less than three losses or maybe it is ranked 12th or better. If a team wins a conference, it is the best team in the conference and it did enough to prove that. Let the conferences sort it out. With a six-team playoff, there is an extra spot for Notre Dame, a BCS buster, or possibly a second team from a big conference. An eight-team playoff would remove even more doubt.

The Baylor-TCU situation from this season.

This was a conundrum I saw coming from a mile away. What happens when two one-loss teams play each other and the team that won that game loses to a sorry opponent? The team that won between the two will be devalued due to a bad loss and the team that lost that tiebreaker will have a better loss (TO THE OTHER TEAM). Couple this with the team that lost the head-to-head playing better football when the playoff comes around and the problem appears. For instance, this year, Baylor and TCU both have one loss, but Baylor beat TCU 61-58 when they played. Baylor followed that win with a horrible 41-27 loss to unranked West Virginia. Because of this, TCU is ranked higher than Baylor in every national poll despite losing to Baylor. In many mock playoff selections, TCU has been popping up, but not Baylor. If both teams win out, this is going to be a a sticky situation.

The Alabama-LSU situation from 2011 or Alabama-Auburn situation from 2013

In 2011, Alabama missed four field goals during a 9-6 loss versus LSU. In 2013, A last-second Alabama field goal didn’t go far enough and was caught by Auburn’s Chris Davis, who then returned the now technical punt 100 yards for the game winning touchdown. I can’t think of two other games in College Football history than left viewers staring at the screen more unsure if the better team won the game. With a 4-team playoff, neither loser of those games should get another chance. The 2011 National Championship between two SEC teams was the most pathetic joke I’ve ever seen in sports (How can a team that couldn’t win its own half of its conference deserve to fight to be the best team in the nation over other conference champions?) However, in a 8-team playoff, it’s fair-game and that losing team would still be in. The better team lost on that given day? Prove it in the new bigger playoff.

When a conference champion loses a game because of injury but regains form come playoff time.

This is a specific example, but it is one that affects Ohio State and Arizona State, none-the-less. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was knocked out for the season due to injury 11 days before the season started. Freshman back-up J.T. Barrett came in and looked awful. Ohio State looked sloppy against Navy, then lost against Virginia Tech. Barrett was shaken and couldn’t do anything right. Seven games later into the season and Ohio State is unstoppable and Barrett just dismantled Michigan State, which was statistically one of the best defenses in the nation. OSU also has gained at least 49 points and 533 yards in six of its last seven games Obviously this argument only works for a conference champion, but it is obvious that this is not the same team that lost to Virginia Tech. Because the Virginia Tech loss is the worst out of all of the contenders, this four-team playoff system will leave Ohio State and all of us will miss out on a potentially great team competing for the trophy.

Arizona State also fell victim to injury and lost starting quarterback Taylor Kelley for three games. In backup QB Mike Bercovici’s first game, ASU looked awful and turned the ball over four times. UCLA throttled them 62-27 in a game that is hardly representative of the team that just beat No. 10 Notre Dame 55-31.That 35-point loss is going to keep being brought up if ASU wins the Pac 12 and analysts are looking for every reason why certain contenders shouldn’t be in the playoff. Like Ohio State, Arizona State now is not the same team that played in their lone loss.

A four-team playoff is better than the two-team National Championship of last year, but it still isn’t enough. It is better to have all of the real contenders with a couple pretenders, just like the systems of every other major sport. The current system leaves teams that have proved they’re among the nation’s best sitting at home. The sport, the teams, and the fans would all be better off with a playoff that features more than four teams. That’s my opinion.

-Marty F. Nemec


Will the Ohio State Buckeyes Go Undefeated in 2013? (PODCAST)

The Ohio State Buckeyes just came off of an undefeated season, but the stakes are much higher this time around. (Photo by: Greg Bartram/USA TODAY Sports)

The Ohio State Buckeyes just came off of an undefeated season, but the stakes are much higher this time around. (Photo by: Greg Bartram/USA TODAY Sports)

A lot of my new PR followers don’t even know I enjoy posting about sports. Here is a podcast about whether the Ohio State Buckeyes can go undefeated again in 2013:

If you liked the band featured in my podcast, go add them on Facebook here.

-Marty F. Nemec

Game of the Week- Week 5(CFB)(Poll)

#14 Ohio State(4-0) vs. #20 Michigan State (3-1)

This game has boggled my mind more than any match-up I’ve done for GOTW so far. Both teams are underperforming in their own respective ways. Both teams have flashes of brilliance on offense and it’s hard to determine what team will show up on Saturday.

Michigan State looks like a team from the 1980’s. It lives by its defense and rushing attack. The Spartan defense has played against two ranked teams(Notre Dame is #10) and it is still the eleventh best defense in the league, allowing just 11.8 points per game. Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell’s 610 rushing yards ranks him second in the nation and first in the Big Ten conference. He has averaged 5.2 yards per carry and that’s after playing the Notre Dame defense that ranks fourth in the country. Michigan State has only won once in the last seven games against the Buckeyes and also holds an all-time losing record against them(12-27), but the Spartans won last year’s meeting 10-7. This Buckeye squad is still searching for an identity after the NCAA sanctions threw the team into disarray. Michigan State knows what it has to do: play solid defense and ride Bell while on offense.

Ohio State is the higher ranked team in this game but don’t let that distract you from their problems. The Buckeyes have played inconsistently in every game this season. At times, the Buckeyes offense rivals Oregon’s in terms of sheer dominance and production, but then at other times, it can’t get a first down in consecutive drives. It is obvious first-year Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has a plan, but the Buckeyes don’t seem interested in carrying it out every play. Despite the inconsistency, Ohio State still averages 37.8 points and 229.3 rushing yards per game. Despite Bell’s crazy production from the running back position for MSU, Ohio State gets more rushing yards per game because of mobile quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller has already equaled his rushing touchdowns in the 2011 season(7) in only four games. As a passer, Miller is also more accurate than Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell, passing for a 61.2 completion percentage compared to Maxwell’s 56.6 percent. Miller’s seven passing touchdowns and two interceptions also blow Maxwell’s three touchdowns and three interceptions away. Ohio State running back Jordan Hall also averages 5.6 yards per carry. When the Ohio State offense is on, it is nearly unstoppable.

Marty’s pick

Ohio State’s weakness is undoubtedly its offense, which ranks last in the Big Ten and gives up an average of three touchdowns per game. Ohio State’s opponents have found success when they run to the outside and stretch the defense across the field. Ohio State’s front four actually has had success stopping runs that aim straight up the middle. Le’Veon Bell isn’t known for his dancing and outside runs. He lowers his shoulder and runs through the middle of the defensive line, relying on his strength and the play of his offensive line. This bodes well for the Buckeyes, but their defense has been gashed so many times this year, it’s impossible to think Ohio State will shut the Spartans down. It will probably be a shootout.

Michigan State’s offense is very one-sided due to first-year quarterback, Maxwell, and its inexperienced receiving corps. Maxwell hasn’t been able to make important passes and the offense doesn’t seem to move unless it is through Bell. Ohio State will be able to stack the box and force Maxwell to pass his way to a win. This game will either be a horrible showing by Maxwell or a “coming-of-age party” for the young quarterback.

Vegas has Michigan State picked to win by three points and I can see why it is that way. This Buckeye defense is not a defense worthy by Ohio State standards. I don’t think enough people are talking about this one-dimensional Spartan offense and whether it can keep up with Ohio State. I also think Braxton Miller’s running ability is a wildcard that Michigan State’s defense has not had to face yet this season. Call me crazy, but I have faith in Meyer’s ability to coach and I think he has saved some tricks and treats for this game. This is his first conference game in the Big Ten and the outcome will affect everyone’s opinion of him. He will want to desperately win this game.


Agree? Disagree? Have your own prediction? Let me know in the comments.

GOTW record: 3-1

-Marty F. Nemec