GENERAL NEWS

Who would make the field in 8-team College Football Playoff?

Dec 4, 2016, 2:27 PM
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts to the results of an official's review in the second quarte...

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts to the results of an official's review in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Maryland in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

(AP Photo/Tony Ding)

The announcement of the four teams for the College Football Playoff on Sunday elicited hand-wringing, cries of foul play, cries of favoritism for Ohio State and calls for an eight-team playoff.

I understand the emotional reaction. I want to see an eight-team tournament as much as anyone and I believe it would add to the excitement (unlike a litany of meaningless bowl games), but let’s say the eight-team format were instituted this season. Who would be your seventh and eighth teams?

We can probably all agree that No. 1 Alabama, No 2. Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Washington belong in that field. The undefeated Crimson Tide (13-0) won the SEC title game, the Huskies (12-1) won the Pac-12 title game and the Tigers (12-1) won the ACC title game. Ohio State (11-1) was one of just three teams with one loss this season.

We can probably also agree that No. 5 Penn State (11-2), which won the Big 10 title game, and No. 7 Oklahoma (10-2), which won the Big 12 title game, belong. The Power Five champions all belong in an eight-team playoff format.

The rest of the field is open for debate. No. 6 Michigan (10-2) probably deserves a spot as the best other two-loss team from a Power Five conference in the mix. The Wolverines’ two losses (Iowa, Ohio State) came on the road on the final play of the game, and a controversial spot led to the Buckeyes’ game-winning score. Michigan also beat Penn State by 39 points.

Who gets the final spot? Do you give it to No. 9 USC (9-3), which is one of the hottest teams in the nation and handed Washington its only defeat, or should the Trojans be penalized for that 52-6 loss to Alabama in Arlington, Texas?

Does No. 8 Wisconsin (10-3) warrant a spot after losing to all three Big 10 teams ahead of it — three teams all ranked in the nation’s top 10 — by one score? The Badgers posted three wins over teams ranked in the top 10 at the time (LSU, Michigan State, Nebraska) and the Badgers played in the Big Ten title game.

Should Western Michigan be rewarded with the at-large bid that small conferences always scream about after going 13-0? Undefeated is undefeated.

Does No. 16 West Virginia (10-2) deserve a crack as the only other two-loss team from a Power Five Conference?

It’s an interesting debate with no easy answers, proving that even if the field were expanded to eight teams, there would still be controversy.

Sitting at the Cardinals game today with several of my Arizona Sports brethren, I decided to take a poll.

Here are each participant’s choices:

Dave Burns

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Ohio State

4. Washington

5. Michigan

6. Penn State

7. Oklahoma

8. USC

Adam Green

1. Alabama

2. Ohio State

3. Clemson

4. Washington

5. Michigan

6. Penn State

7. Oklahoma

8. USC

Craig Grialou

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Ohio State

4. Washington

5. Michigan

6. Penn State

7. Oklahoma

8. USC

Luke Lapinski

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Ohio State

4. Washington

5. Michigan

6. Penn State

7. Oklahoma

8. USC

Vince Marotta

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Ohio State

4. Washington

5. Penn State

6. Michigan

7. Oklahoma

8. Western Michigan

Craig Morgan

1. Alabama

2. Ohio State

3. Clemson

4. Washington

5. Penn State

6. Michigan

7. Oklahoma

8. Western Michigan

Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter

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Who would make the field in 8-team College Football Playoff?