What if the 2015 College Football Playoff expanded?
Our first installment of "What if the College Football Playoff expanded" provided a glimpse of what could happen. It's too bad the first year didn't tell us more. TCU and Baylor deserved a shot at the playoff, and both could have won it all. Ohio State was the other team debated with those two Big 12 teams, and the Buckeyes barely snuck in to win. Oh well. This year's playoff might not have the same firepower, but that means opportunities for upsets.
#1 Clemson Tigers vs. #8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame 46 Clemson 13
DeShone Kizer was one of the more underappreciated quarterbacks in 2015, but clearly showed why NFL teams were interested in him. Could CJ Prosise slice through this Clemson defense? Who knows, even with Notre Dame's struggles on the big stage lately. Kizer beating out Deshaun Watson, who passed for over 4,000 yards while rushing for another 1,000 in 2015, would be headline worthy at the least.
# 2 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #7 Ohio State Buckeyes
Alabama 27 Ohio State 17
Repeating as national champions isn't an easy task for anyone, even for a talented Buckeyes team. When you have to beat Alabama two years in a row in the first round too, that's even tougher. This was Derrick Henry's Heisman year for the Tide, a year in which he rushed for 2,219 yards and 21 touchdowns.
#3 Michigan State Spartans vs. #6 Stanford Cardinal
Michigan State 45 Stanford 31
Michigan State got worked in the 2015 College Football Playoff, which was a tough way to end that season. LJ Scott's touchdown in the Big Ten Championship will be a play that we remember forever. In an eight team playoff, they get a chance to win a game, facing a Stanford team that was running everything through Christian McCaffrey. So if you're telling me you wouldn't want to watch the Cardinal and McCaffrey on college football's biggest stage, I just simply don't believe you.
#4 Oklahoma Sooners vs. #5 Iowa Hawkeyes
Oklahoma 34 Iowa 24
Another team that got steamrolled, everyone really knew Oklahoma was a year away from being a legitimate contender. Still, this is a team with Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon, Sterling Shephard, Dede Westbrook, and Mark Andrews, so there was plenty of talent available. Iowa was the surprise team of 2015. They Hawkeyes came up just short in the Big Ten Championship, but they became one of the most intriguing stories in all of college football. Iowa doesn't normally compete for national championships nowadays, so this provided a unique opportunity for fans to watch something different.
#8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. #4 Oklahoma Sooners
Notre Dame 41 Oklahoma 40
Deshone Kizer versus Baker Mayfield would have been an underrated matchup of 2015, and the score above is an example of how that could have ended. High scoring shootouts in the playoff are welcomed for most of us, and two great offenses going at it would be quality entertainment.
#2 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #3 Michigan State Spartans
Alabama 19 Michigan State 13
This at least ended better than the actual matchup. Now, while I don't think the Spartans would ever win this game if they played 100 times, that's not the point of this experiment. More meaningful games is what expansion's about, even if you're getting games where Derrick Henry runs all over the Spartans with the Tide's defense dominating. You'll have that in any playoff.
#8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. #2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama 31 Notre Dame 13
Oh shocker, Notre Dame getting worked by Alabama? At least in this exercise, they have a chance of succeeding up until this point.
#16 Oklahoma State 30 #1 Clemson Tigers 18-- Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys offense were a force to be reckoned with back then.
#2 Alabama Crimson Tide 49 #15 Oregon 44-- Derrick Henry and Royce Freeman combine for 405 yards and five touchdowns and there are still people who would say they wouldn't watch that. Insane.
#14 Michigan 29 #3 Michigan State Spartans 20-- Who wouldn't want to see this rivalry game in the playoff?
#4 Oklahoma Sooners 27 # 13 Northwestern 17-- Samaje Perine goes off for 194 yards rushing.
#12 Ole Miss 27 #5 Iowa Hawkeyes 22-- Chad Kelly and the Rebels found a way to stun Alabama, so beating Iowa doesn't seem too daunting here.
#6 Stanford Cardinal 53 #11 TCU 41-- How are you going to tell me that you wouldn't watch Christian McCaffrey rush for 264 yards in the playoff?
#7 Ohio State Buckeyes 38 #10 North Carolina 27-- No expanded playoff means the Buckeyes wouldn't get to defend their crown, but here they do.
#9 Florida State 51 #8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 27-- Everett Golson beats his former team thanks largely to Dalvin Cook.
#16 Oklahoma State 36 #9 Florida State 28-- See what happens when a good offense gets hot? Keeping up with the Cowboys is tough if you can't stop them.
#4 Oklahoma 20 #12 Ole Miss 7-- A defensive battle between two good offenses. Sooners ride behind Perine again.
#6 Stanford 47 #14 Michigan 28-- McCaffrey goes off again for 245 yards and four touchdowns rushing with 46 yards and another score receiving. How could you not want to watch that on the biggest stage?
#7 Ohio State 21 #2 Alabama 18-- Buckeyes keep their repeat championship hopes alive with an upset over Alabama. Sound familiar?
#4 Oklahoma 31 #16 Oklahoma State 24-- Bedlam for a semifinal? Yes please. With the potential to be a shootout? I'll take that in a heartbeat.
#6 Stanford 50 #7 Ohio State 17-- With his 299 yards and two touchdowns, McCaffrey's now at 808 yards and nine touchdowns in three games. ON. THE. BIGGEST. STAGE. Imagine not liking fun.
#4 Oklahoma 30 #6 Stanford 27-- McCaffrey rushes for 145 yards, but the Cardinal can't slow down the Sooners for the championship.