Under The Radar: 8-Team Playoff Logistical Nightmare & January 1st Game Previews:
1. The 8-team Playoff Logistical Nightmare: How do you handle the first round?
A. On Campus Home Games for Higher Seeds: Let’s start with this popular idea. For the sake of argument let’s project this calendar out to next year using this year’s seeds. In that scenario #6 seed and Big Ten Champion Ohio State wins the Big Ten Title on December 7th. Sunday December 8th they find out they will be playing at #3 seed Notre Dame on Saturday December 14th. That is the same type of quick turnaround in the NFL and in the FCS playoffs. But here’s where it gets interesting. Let’s say Ohio State loses on 12/14. Do they go to a bowl game or are they done? If they don’t get to a bowl game then as Big Ten Champion they lose out on the Rose Bowl trip. If they still get to go to a Bowl game which Bowls will be stuck waiting until 12/14 to announce their match-ups and start selling tickets? Are there 2 Bowl games that are stuck as “consolation bowls”?
B. Use Bowl Games For The First Round: Will fans hedge their bets? If I am a fan of #2 seed Clemson will I travel to the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas to see us play #7 seed Michigan on December 21st (and will the Bowls be willing to move the games up) when I fully expect to be playing in the semifinal in Arizona before playing in the National Title game in New Orleans? Unless you are made of money to pay for short-notice flights, hotel rooms and three rounds of playoff-priced tickets you will have to pick your spots.
2. The 8-team Playoff Debate: Player health is a Real Concern: Alabama’s senior players will be playing in their 59th college football game on January 7th. In the future with the new 4-game redshirt rule that number could climb to over 60 games. More games equal more hits equal more risk…..For those that cling to the amateur ideal for college football the 8-team playoff just adds more fuel to the fire to pay players.
3. January 1st Games: Notes For Your Gameday Viewing:
A. The Fiesta Bowl: #8 UCF versus #11 LSU: On Vivid Seats you can get into this game for as little as $20 and sit in the lower bowl for as cheap as $56. The Fiesta Bowl would have been better off picking #13 Washington State whose fans combined with Iowa State fans to pack the Alamo Bowl to capacity in San Antonio. This is another chance for UCF to make a statement in a New Year’s Six Bowl. LSU’s offense will need to be balanced and score points in this one.
B. The Citrus Bowl #12 Penn State versus #14 Kentucky: Penn State’s defense has done well against one-dimensional teams. Kentucky can run the ball but will need to throw the ball to beat Penn State. For Penn State's offense a rested and healthy Trace McSorley using his dual-threat abilities can help Penn State consistently move the chains on third downs to put points on the board. Of note: Penn State is 12-7 all-time in Bowls against teams currently in the SEC including an 11-5 record in a 50-year stretch from 1963 through 2013.
C. The Rose Bowl: #6 Ohio State versus #9 Washington: The Buckeyes will try to send Coach Urban Meyer out as Rose Bowl Champions in his final game as the Head Coach at Ohio State. If the Buckeyes win Meyer will join Bob Stoops and Joe Paterno as the only coaches to win all 5 major Bowls (Orange, Cotton, Sugar, Fiesta and Rose). For the Big Ten this is a must-win game to make a statement about the conference after Michigan got drubbed by Florida.
D. The Sugar Bowl: #5 Georgia versus #15 Texas: While Georgia fans and even some players took to twitter Saturday night complaining about their playoff snub, most likely Texas players and coaches noted those posts. Being overlooked as an opponent can be a great motivating factor. The 5 seed has a 1-3 record in the playoff era in Bowl games but none have ever played a team ranked as low as Texas. The Longhorns do have a talented team. If Texas protects the football they can beat Georgia if an arrogant Bulldogs team shows up.