What if the 2016 College Football Playoff expanded?
A trip down memory lane has been fun for most of these playoffs. The 2014 playoff reminded us of how fun TCU and Baylor were that year, while 2015 provided us essentially a highlight reel from Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey. We now enter the 2016 season, where one of the best Alabama defenses we've ever seen finds its kryptonite in Deshaun Watson. But would they have met if the playoff expanded? Let's find out.
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #8 Wisconsin Badgers
Alabama 47 Wisconsin 19
This is one of the most talented Alabama defenses we've ever seen, and this is also with a freshman Jalen Hurts running the offense. The Tide had four players rush for over 500 yards offensively, and just about a million players on the roster go to the NFL at some point. That's exactly why their loss to Clemson in the actual national championship was so surprising.
#2 Clemson Tigers vs. #7 Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma 26 Clemson 9
Baker Mayfield (4,142 total yards, 46 TD), Samaje Perine (1,166, 13), Joe Mixon(1,812, 15), Dede Westbrook (1,625, 17), and five future NFL draft picks on the offensive line. Yeah it's not surprising that the Sooners win this simulation or to think that they'd have a chance to win the entire playoff. Deshaun Watson threw 17 interceptions this year, so it's not unlikely that the Sooners could flip momentum in their favor to pull off the upset.
#3 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #6 Michigan Wolverines
Ohio State 19 Michigan 16
Think about how intense these games are during the regular season, and now put it in a playoff setting. Jim Harbaugh already gets a ton of attention during the regular season, but just think about what he'd say if he were facing the Buckeyes in the playoff. Talk about bulletin board material. Unfortunately in a simulation and in real life, the Buckeyes continue to have the Wolverines number.
#4 Washington Huskies vs. #5 Penn State Nittany Lions
Washington 37 Penn State 17
Sophomore QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin led the Huskies to the playoff this year. The defense was absolutely loaded too with Budda Baker, Azeem Victor, Taylor Rapp, Kevin King, Sidney Jones and Vita Vea. Until they met Alabama, there weren't many teams that gave them much of a challenge, but at least here they'd have a chance to show the upside in the postseason.
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #4 Washington Huskies
Alabama 44 Washington 30
This game would have at least been more entertaining, though I'm not sure if Washington could ever score this many points against Alabama's defense. Since we're reminiscing in this series, how about Alabama's defense? Reuben Foster, Ronnie Harrison, Jonathan Allen, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Dalvin Tomlinson, Ryan Anderson, Rashaan Evans, Marlon Humphrey, Daron Payne, Tim Williams, Eddie Jackson, Da'Shawn Hands, and Anfernee Jennings. That's a ton of talent on one roster. Allen, Anderson and Williams combined for 50.5 tackles for loss and 27.5 sacks in this year alone.
#7 Oklahoma Sooners vs. #3 Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State 20 Oklahoma 17
This Ohio State team had the talent to win a championship, but then laid an egg against Clemson. Facing Oklahoma is a much different challenge, but one the Buckeyes can clearly handle. The trio of J.T. Barrett, Mike Weber, and Curtis Samuel would give most teams trouble, and Ohio State now gets a chance to win a championship against a team they've defeated in the past.
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #3 Ohio State Buckeyes
Alabama 25 Ohio State 20
Alabama redeems the real life results with a close win over Ohio State. So for those keeping score, Bama's now made the championship in every single simulation with two wins. So, if you're an elitist who believes the playoff should stay the same, this justifies your argument. But we've also seen what can happen in the first round games when underdogs are given a chance. That's what makes college football great. Make more of them meaningful and you can still get the best teams in the championship.
#1 Alabama 31 #16 West Virginia 0--Tide throw a total of 19 passes, but rush for 279 yards and four touchdowns.
#2 Clemson 37 #15 Western Michigan 30-- Dabo versus PJ Fleck. One of the most interesting coaching matchups that we didn't get because the playoff won't expand.
#3 Ohio State 41 #14 Auburn 23-- Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel combine for 290 yards and three touchdowns. Honestly, I don't get why people wouldn't want to watch these national powers go at it on the biggest stage.
#13 Louisville 31 #4 Washington 17-- You're telling me that there are people who wouldn't watch Lamar Jackson play in the playoff? This Cardinals team nearly beat Clemson this year, and the Tigers won it all. Jackson would be the most terrifying player in the playoff without question.
#5 Penn State 34 #12 Oklahoma State 31-- You also get to watch Saquon Barkley and Oklahoma State's offense in this playoff. I'm not sure what more you could ask for in a playoff.
#11 Florida State 27 #6 Michigan 24-- This is a Florida State team that got throttled by Louisville earlier in the year, but obviously recovered towards the end of the season.
#7 Oklahoma 40 #10 Colorado 37-- Colorado with Phillip Lindsay was super underrated and could have surprised a bunch of teams.
#9 USC 38 #8 Wisconsin 33-- Sam Darnold winning a playoff game? Weird, but not impossible.
#1 Alabama 47 #9 USC 27-- Sometimes the playoffs are going to be predictable, but that's okay. We don't have to limit our fun because of a few games.
#5 Penn State 44 #13 Louisville 36-- Saquon Barkley versus Lamar Jackson in a playoff. Definition of thrilling.
#11 Florida State 41 #3 Ohio State 27-- This is what Seminoles fans thought Deondre Francois could be, but never got to that point.
#7 Oklahoma 41 #2 Clemson 27-- To think this isn't even the best Oklahoma team in the playoff era and they're capable of making a run like this is scary.
#1 Alabama 29 #5 Penn State 10-- Sometimes weird things happen, like an Alabama kicker making five field goals.
#7 Oklahoma 52 #11 Florida State 16-- Letting the Sooners win a couple games and get momentum would make them so dangerous for any team. Baker Mayfield's already playing with a chip on his shoulder, and the Sooners are loaded offensively.
#7 Oklahoma 28 #1 Alabama 26-- Lincoln Riley pulling this off would launch him into another realm. Beating this Alabama team was crazy for Clemson, and the Sooners doing it would be just as impressive. But again, it wasn't possible because we didn't expand.