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The 2013 What-If College Football Tournament

This is the last time I get to write this.

Next year college football will have a playoff. Sure it will only include four teams and still screw over any unbeaten small conference teams and probably one-loss Big Ten teams because the sanctity of the third best team from the SEC must be preserved.

But four teams is better than nothing and what we get in 2014 will be closer to my ideal scenario of a 24-team dance, so for the final time as computers prepare to crown a national champion, I present my What-If College Football Tournament.

The rules, we take the champions of every conference and the best at-large teams in the country to get to a 24-team bracket (roughly 20 percent of the total teams playing, which is similar to the percentages in other Division I sports).


To review, here are the conference champions:

American (that thing that used to be the Big East but has all of C-USA’s old teams and why is this a major conference again?): UCF

ACC: Florida State

Big Ten: Michigan State

Big XII: Baylor

Pac-12: Stanford

SEC: Auburn

C-USA: Rice

MAC: Bowling Green

Mt. West: Fresno State

Sun Belt: Louisiana Lafayette


With only 10 conferences now thanks to the death of the WAC, there are 14 at-large bids up for grabs and among teams that did not win their conference title, 12 won at least 10 games. Sorry SEC fanbois, I’m not giving out all the at-large bids to the remaining SEC teams no matter how many times you cry that 2-10 Kentucky would beat Florida State by a few touchdowns because the SEC is the greatest thing ever. The 10-win teams from the four major conferences are; Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, THE Ohio State, Oregon, Arizona State, Missouri, South Carolina and Alabama. Congrats, those teams are in.

That leaves six at-large bids to hand out. Clemson, Duke and Louisville are 10-win teams from kinda-sorta major conferences. Louisville won 11 games so I reluctantly put them in. Duke and Clemson both got blown out by Florida State but Duke has additional losses to pathetically bad Georgia Tech and Pitt. Clemson fell to ranked and in the dance South Carolina so as hilarious as it would be to have Duke in the football tournament, Clemson gets in, the Blue Devils don’t.

Wisconsin, UCLA and LSU won nine games in major conferences. Southern Cal also won nine and their biggest accomplishment was firing Lane Kiffen, so we put an asterics nest to them for now. Those other nine-win teams are in.

The Trojans lost to a mediocre Washington State team and got blown out by Arizona State. Their next loss was to 8-4 Notre Dame. They did beat Stanford, but their conference schedule included unimpressive teams like Colorado and Cal while avoiding Oregon. Then they got blown out by UCLA. Sorry Trojans.

Texas A&M gets in as an 8-4 team since three of those losses were by a score or less to Missouri, Alabama and Auburn. They get the final spot over 10-win sides Ball State and Northern Illinois who had unimpressive non-conference schedules. The Huskies did play Iowa, but the rest of their non-conference slate had teams like Purdue and Idaho. Ball State beat Army and Virginia to impress no one and lost big to Northern Illinois.

In the Big Ten we get the perfect example of why I like my bracket more than even the Top-4 system that will be in place next year. Taking four teams from this season likely means a bracket of FSU, Auburn, Alabama and Stanford. Meanwhile a Spartan team that lost one game (to 8-4 Notre Dame by four points) and won its conference title is out. The reason is one of the worst parts of college football; preseason and early season polls. Michigan State was among ‘others receiving votes’ in the preseason poll and stayed there until week 10 when they finally broke into the top 25 at 7-1.



          1 Alabama

4 Oklahoma State

5 Louisville


3 South Carolina

6 Central Florida

          2 Michigan State



1 Auburn

4 Clemson

5 Bowling Green


3 Oregon

6 Rice

          2 Missouri


1 Florida State




3 Arizona State

6 Louisiana Lafayette

          2 Ohio State


1 Baylor

4 Wisconsin

5 Texas A&M


3 Oklahoma

6 Fresno State

          2 Stanford


So in the first round we get Johnny Football playing in Madison in December, a Rice team that ranks 101st in the country in passing yards going against Oregon and the American Athletic Conference pretending it’s a big boy for all of one week until its teams give up a combines 150 points to Oklahoma State and South Carolina.

In the second round there is the potential for Clemson-Auburn (I think the Tigers will win), Fresno State-Stanford and Arizona State-Ohio State (a rematch of the 1997 Rose Bowl).

In round three we get Saban Bowl (Michigan State vs. Alabama) and Urban Meyer vs. his old friends at Florida State.

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