What if the 2014 College Football Playoff expanded?
March Madness reminds us every year how fun a big tournament can be. Multiple teams having a shot to win a championship creates an excitement that college football doesn't get. While there are different dynamics to each sport, an expanded playoff of some sort is still needed for the College Football Playoff. We'll start with the 2014 playoff and go all the way to this past year using a simulations to show what could have been in an eight and sixteen team playoff setup.
*All simulations were used on the site WhatIfSports, using teams rosters from this particular year on a neutral field.
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #8 Michigan State Spartans
Alabama 42 Michigan State 28
Blake Sims wasn't the best quarterback Alabama's ever had, but that coaching staff found a way to get them to the playoff this year. Granted, it helps having Amari Cooper on your team, and even in simulations he still dominates. Michigan State probably had a decent chance of beating this Alabama team given the Tide's limitations, but there wouldn't be many people betting on them.
#2 Oregon Ducks vs. #7 Mississippi State Bulldogs
Oregon 29 Mississippi State 28
Dak Prescott versus Marcus Mariota was one of the best college football matchups we never got. Mariota won the Heisman this year, and Prescott brought the Bulldogs to #1 in the country at one point during this season. Just like the simulation, this one would have been a dog fight, but I think Oregon still would have won. Just another game that we didn't get because the playoff is only four teams.
#3 Florida State Seminoles vs. #6 TCU Horned Frogs
TCU 32 Florida State 29
The 2014 Florida State team is the most overrated playoff team we've ever seen. Granted, they weren't the worst, but easily the most overrated team that's participated in the postseason invitational. Jameis Winston won the Heisman in 2013, and the 'Noles returned a good amount of experience. Trevone Boykin and TCU were snubbed from this years playoff, and took it out on Ole Miss in their bowl game. The Big 12 and the Frogs were getting grief all year long, so you can bet they'd be plenty prepared and motivated to play in a playoff.
#4 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #5 Baylor Bears
Baylor 30 Ohio State 24
This is the exact reason I wanted to do this experiment, and yes I understand this is just a simulation. Baylor and TCU were both snubbed from the 2014 College Football Playoff, and you can't tell me that Baylor couldn't have won it all. The Bears offense was one of the most explosive in college football, and they could score on anyone. Ohio State won the championship in 2014, and the only thing that stopped Baylor from doing the same thing is getting left out from the tournament.
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #5 Baylor Bears
Alabama 51 Baylor 47
These simulations with Alabama remind me how good Amari Cooper was in his time in Tuscaloosa. The Tide were able to win a shootout against Auburn in the 2014 Iron Bowl, so it's not a surprise to see them do it here. This is also a reminder that Baylor could have done this to anyone in 2014. It's just naïve to think they couldn't hang with anyone, because they could light up a scoreboard against the best defenses in the country that year without a doubt.
#2 Oregon Ducks vs. #6 TCU Horned Frogs
TCU 44 Oregon 29
Maybe the College Football Playoff committee was scared of the potential of an All-Big 12 national championship. That was a real possibility in 2014, and I personally don't understand why you wouldn't want a rematch of a game that finished 61-58. That was a Top 5 game that year, and would have been even more intense if a championship was on the line. Yet we let a non-conference winning Alabama team in the playoff in 2018. Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs would have been a nightmare to beat this year, and a rematch would have given us one of the best national championship games of all time.
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #6 TCU Horned Frogs
TCU 34 Alabama 16
I don't think much more needs to be said. The Horned Frogs could have beaten anyone in 2014, the year where at least six teams could have won it all. An expansion of the playoff doesn't guarantee anything, but keeping it at four guarantees that there will be championship worthy teams get left out. If we didn't learn that from the first year, then we might never.
And for the "Expand to 16" group. Here's a different simulation with some quick results.
#1 Alabama 40 #16 Missouri 10: Maty Mauk throws three picks for Missouri on their way to an anticlimactic loss to the Tide.
#9 Ole Miss 42 #8 Michigan State 21: If you recall, the Rebels smacked TCU in Peach Bowl this year 42-3, so it's not a surprise to see this. Bo Wallace is efficient in this one for Ole Miss, finishing 18-22 for 246 yards and four touchdowns passing.
#4 Ohio State 23 #13 Georgia 10: Unlike the actual playoff, Ezekiel Elliott didn't go off, only rushing for 102 yards and a score. It's still enough to push the Buckeyes forward.
#5 Baylor 44 #12 Georgia Tech 25: Bryce Petty and Shock Linwood combine for 422 yards and five touchdowns.
#11 Kansas State 49 #6 TCU 20: TCU jumps out to a 17-0 lead, but Kansas State storms back with a 49-3 run to end the game.
#3 Florida State 27 #14 UCLA 24: Florida State survives two Jameis Winston interceptions to push past the Bruins.
#7 Mississippi State 24 #10 Arizona 18: The Wildcats found a way to upset Oregon in 2014, but they can't stop Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs
#15 Arizona State40 #2 Oregon 10: This is why I love simulations. Somehow, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota finishes 5-18 for 90 yards in a blowout loss.
#1 Alabama 44 #9 Ole Miss 21: Bama avenges their earlier loss to the Rebels behind a 10-catch, 179-yard, two-touchdown performance from Amari Cooper.
#5 Baylor 24 #4 Ohio State 20: This is exactly why the playoff needs to expand. This Baylor team could have beaten anyone in the playoff, but not having a conference championship game kept them out.
#11 Kansas State 41 #3 Florida State 23: I'm not entirely sure what's in K-State's motor, but it's running well so far in this simulation.
#7 Mississippi State 26 #15 Arizona State 3: There were many who believed the Bulldogs could make a run. Now they get that chance.
#5 Baylor 44 #1 Alabama 28: Bryce Petty goes off on the Crimson Tide for 459 yards and two touchdowns.
# 7 Mississippi State 43 #11 Kansas State 36: The Bulldogs needed overtime, but Dak Prescott and the offense pull through.
#7 Mississippi State 34 #5 Baylor 28: Bulldogs jump out to a 34-14 lead before hanging on late to win the national championship