What if the 2017 College Football Playoff expanded?
If one year sparked the most conversation surrounding the College Football Playoff, it was the 2017 season. UCF led the charge by winning every one of their games and then claiming a national championship, something everyone had an opinion about then and still do today. If we had an expanded playoff, there wouldn't be the frustrations because we'd know for sure. Oh, and UCF could have won it all in 2017 for the record. Just think of how intense everything would have been if they were let in the playoff. One can dream I guess.
Here's the thing. Part of college football is winning and being elite. I get that. So to that regard, a four team playoff makes sense. But when is college football the most fun? When there are upsets and nothing goes according to plan. Get rid of conference championships, expand the playoff, and let the chaos ensue. I promise you'll have more fun.
*The format of the playoffs includes a guaranteed Group of 5 team in the format, so that's why UCF is listed as eighth in the eight team playoff, but 12th in the 16 team.
#1 Clemson Tigers vs. #8 UCF Knights
UCF 41 Clemson 31
Have you noticed college football fans talk more about UCF's national championship than the team that won the College Football Playoff? This is a result that was more than possible. Clemson's offense struggled to move the ball through the air, and UCF could put up points in a hurry. Brent Venables trying to stop McKenzie Milton would have been an elite matchup.
#2 Oklahoma Sooners vs. #7 Auburn Tigers
Auburn 63 Oklahoma 45
Oklahoma played in an all-timer in the actual 2017 playoff, and they get another one in the hypothetical playoff. Jarrett Stidham beating Baker Mayfield seems unlikely, but we wouldn't know since the playoff was four teams. Oklahoma's defense really limited them this year, and the offense couldn't do everything even in a simulation.
#3 Georgia Bulldogs vs. #6 Wisconsin Badgers
Georgia 23 Wisconsin 17
When Georgia found ways to score points against Oklahoma in the actual playoff, it was really surprising. So a result like this seems more likely than the Bulldogs repeating that performance. A defensive battle in the playoff would be a nice change of pace, but this one still had enough points to not put you to sleep.
#4 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #5 Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State 39 Alabama 32
How many times are these two teams going to play in this series? Alabama is probably sick of the Buckeyes ruining their title hopes. Jalen Hurts stays in the entire game for this simulation, so there's no Tua Tagovailoa to relieve him. Still, the Crimson Tide offense seemed to be just fine. Imagine what would have happened if Hurts stayed in back in the 2017-18 title game?
#8 UCF Knights vs. #5 Ohio State Buckeyes
UCF 45 Ohio State 38
Another upset that was more than likely. If you thought UCF's run in 2017 was entertaining, imagine if they added a playoff run to their resume. Ohio State's the more talented team, but UCF would have more momentum. Scott Frost versus Urban Meyer. JT Barrett versus McKenzie Milton. This game would have provided nearly every storyline you'd want to get excited for a playoff game, and you'd throw a trip to the championship on the line as well.
#3 Georgia Bulldogs vs. #7 Auburn Tigers
Georgia 44 Auburn 10
Again, just get Georgia the right defense and they can dice them up. Sony Michel and Nick Chubb both can go off in the same game, and the Bulldogs wouldn't need to throw with Jake Fromm. This would be the third matchup this season between the Bulldogs and Tigers, but get rid of the conference championship games that are unnecessary and this one becomes way more enticing.
#8 UCF Knights vs. #3 Georgia Bulldogs
UCF 44 Georgia 32
UCF beat Auburn in the 2017-18 Peach Bowl. Auburn beat Georgia earlier in the 2017 season 40-17. Georgia came up one play short against Alabama in the national championship. So if you're asking if it was possible for the Knights to win it all, the answer is yes. Anyone who says otherwise is in denial and biased. And most likely doesn't enjoy fun things.+
#1 Clemson 21 #16 Michigan State 3-- Clemson's defense overcomes Kelly Bryant's struggles and keeps the Spartans offense in check.
#2 Oklahoma 58 #15 TCU 31-- A Big 12 shootout in a playoff is exactly what everyone wants. Baker Mayfield and Rodney Anderson ball out for the Sooners.
#3 Georgia 29 #14 Notre Dame 16-- Georgia's offense isn't anything special, but the defense does their part to stifle the Irish.
#13 Stanford 38 #4 Alabama 17-- Grown man football here. Stanford's going to run the ball down your throat with Bryce Love, and I can't imagine anyone that wouldn't be intrigued by this matchup. And then the conversation we'd have when Love goes off for 211 yards and two touchdowns like he does in this simulation.
#12 UCF 47 #5 Ohio State 35-- UCF's speed would give anyone in this playoff trouble, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see Adrian Killins rush for 182 yards against the Buckeyes.
#6 Wisconsin 28 #11 Washington 27-- A missed extra point in the playoff? Yes please. Jonathan Taylor and the Badgers rushing attack in the playoff? The good things keep coming our way.
#7 Auburn 20 #10 Miami 10-- The Canes swagger was back in 2017. Until it wasn't anymore. The roller coaster ride that was watching Malik Rosier definitely added some years to the Miami faithful.
#9 Penn State 35 #8 USC 20-- A rematch of the 2016-17 Rose Bowl goes in favor of the Nittany Lions. Saquon Barkley rushes for 104 yards and four touchdowns to lead Penn State.
#9 Penn State 29 #1 Clemson 7-- Is 2017 Clemson the most overrated top seed we've seen in playoff history? Imagine this matchup. Brent Venables trying to figure out how to stop Saquon Barkley is a matchup I'm watching all day.
#13 Stanford 55 #12 UCF 38-- Bryce Love averages 14 yards per carry on his way to 322 yards and four touchdowns rushing. The UCF Cinderella story comes to an end, but it was a fun one.
#6 Wisconsin 30 #3 Georgia 20-- What I'll ask you: if you saw this result, would you really be that surprised? Two teams that love to pound the rock going at it would be entertaining, and Wisconsin winning wouldn't be that much of a surprise.
#2 Oklahoma 33 #7 Auburn 26-- Oklahoma was one of the best playoff teams we've seen, and easily the best to not win a playoff game.
#9 Penn State 55 #13 Stanford 42-- Trace McSorley throws for 398 yards and four touchdowns. Bryce Love rushes for 355 yards (16.9 ypc) and five touchdowns. What fun we could have.
#2 Oklahoma 59 #6 Wisconsin 23-- Wisconsin's offense is one dimensional. Oklahoma's is multiple. So if both teams get one aspect taken away, it's only the Sooners that can adapt.
#9 Penn State 44 #2 Oklahoma 37-- When this Penn State team got rolling, they could beat anyone. Including this Oklahoma team. Is it likely? No, but having a talent like Saquon Barkley along with that Nittany Lions defense gives them a great chance.