How Every BCS Championship Would Have Played out Under 4-Team Playoff Scenario
The concept of an actual college football playoff scenario replacing the current BCS title game is the hottest topic going today in college athletics. The BCS title game is always controversial regardless of who is in it, and the only way we are going to get a consensus national champion is to institute some form of college football playoff.
While everyone figures out what and how to implement the system in the near future, what if the BCS had never taken place and a four-team playoff did instead? Would there be a different national champion during the BCS years if there were a playoff instead? Who knows for sure, but it could be fun to look back to the beginnings of the BCS and review the top four teams each year and analyze what could have happened in a playoff scenario.
So here it is, starting with 1998 and ending with the 2011 season.
1998: Would Tennessee Have Won the National Championship?
The inaugural BCS title game was between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida State Seminoles, and the final score was Tennessee 23, FSU 16.
However, the top four teams going into the bowl games were the Tennessee Volunteers, Florida State Seminoles, Kansas State Wildcats and Ohio State Buckeyes.
Under a four-game playoff system with the pre-bowl rankings, the Vols would have hosted the Buckeyes, and the Seminoles would have faced the Wildcats.
Kansas State vs. FSU
Kansas State was undefeated and won the Big 12 North before facing No. 10 Texas A&M in the Trans World Dome in St. Louis. ABC televised this double-overtime game, and the Aggies finally won 36-33. If a four-game playoff were in place, they would have faced a Seminole team after their first loss of the season.
The Seminoles defeated Texas A&M in the first game of the season, 23-14, in the Kickoff Classic in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Then they traveled to Raleigh, N.C., and lost to the unranked N.C. State Wolfpack, 24-7. It would be their only loss of the season.
Comparing the competition, clearly FSU would have defeated the Wildcats on a neutral field. It would have been a decent matchup, but the Seminoles would prove to be too fast and strong for Kansas State.
Ohio State vs. Tennessee
John Cooper's Ohio State Buckeyes were a formidable team in 1998 with only one loss all season to unranked Michigan State at home, which was a shocker to say the least. That same season, they routed No. 7 Penn State at Ohio Stadium 28-9.
The Volunteers, led by Phillip Fulmer, were experiencing their first season sans QB Peyton Manning. They had also lost to the NFL WR Marcus Nash and LB Leonard Little. Expecting to have a fall-off season, the Vols ran the tables and were 12-0 going into the bowl season.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the Vols would have defeated the Buckeyes if they played in a four-team playoff. The Vols were too athletic and fast for every team they faced that year, and it would not have been any different against Ohio State.
Championship Game: Tennessee vs. FSU
Therefore, in 1998 it wouldn't have mattered if there were a four-team playoff; the Vols would have gone undefeated and been crowned national champions.
1999: Would FSU Have Won the National Championship?
After losing to the Volunteers in the previous BCS title game, the Seminoles returned to face Michael Vick's Virginia Tech Hokies. This time, however, FSU showed up and dominated, 46-29, in the Sugar Bowl.
Now let's take a look at the top four teams going in to bowl season: FSU, Virginia Tech, Nebraska and Alabama.
Alabama vs. FSU
FSU was ranked No. 1 from start to finish and ran the tables to a final 12-0 record (not including the BCS victory). Alabama, on the other hand, had a 9-2 record with a stunning early-season loss to Louisiana Tech. Coach Mike DuBose was in his third season, and it may have been his last if he didn't finish strong in 1999.
FSU was dominating throughout the 1999 season, and Alabama's meeting with the Seminoles would have ended in futility.
Nebraska vs. Virginia Tech
The Frank Solich-led Cornhuskers of Nebraska had a terrific 1999 season. Their only hiccup was against Texas midseason, losing 24-20 in Austin, Texas. They would meet up again in the Big 12 Championship and defeat Texas 22-6 in San Antonio. When bowl season arrived Nebraska was firing on all cylinders.
The Hokies, led by some guy named Michael Vick, were undefeated going into bowl season with two 60-point blowouts on their resume against No. 16 Syracuse and Temple.
The Cornhuskers would have been a formidable opponent, but containing Michael Vick would have been too much to ask of Nebraska.
Championship Game: Florida State vs. Virginia Tech
The BCS got it right in 1999, and FSU was simply too much for any team that season.
2000: Would Oklahoma Have Won the National Championship?
FSU returned to the BCS for a third year in a row, but this time it was up against the Oklahoma Sooners. Also, it was the Sooners, and not the Seminoles, who were undefeated going into the BCS title game. Just like the Seminoles the previous year, the Sooners went 13-0 and defeated FSU 13-2 in the most boring defensive game in the history of the BCS era.
Now if a four-team playoff were in place, the teams would have been in order: Oklahoma, FSU, Miami and Washington.
Washington vs. Oklahoma
The Marques Tuiasosopo-led Huskies of Washington had a very respectable season in 2000 with only one loss to No. 20 Oregon Ducks in Eugene. However, they did defeat the infamous Miami Hurricanes earlier in the season at home, 34-29.
Oklahoma, however, with head coach Bob Stoops in his second season, was a force to be reckoned with in 2000. Washington would have lost big time due to Mike Stoops' incredible defense.
Miami vs. FSU
There was controversy (what else is new?) around the Miami Hurricanes in 2000. They had beaten FSU earlier in the season and had a better record, but the Seminoles were chosen instead to face Oklahoma in the BCS title game. Therefore, since Miami had beaten FSU previously that season, there is a very good chance the Hurricanes would have beaten FSU again to face Oklahoma in the championship game.
Championship Game: Oklahoma vs. Miami
Even though the Sooners were awesome on defense, the Seminoles held them to 13 points in the BCS title game. The Canes would have done a better job on defense and scored more than the two points FSU did. Therefore, the Miami Hurricanes, in a four-game playoff in 2000-2001, would have been the national champions.
2001: Would Miami Have Won the National Championship?
Some college football historians consider the 2001 Miami Hurricanes one of the greatest college football teams in history. It was head coach Larry Coker's first season since Butch Davis resigned to take the Cleveland Brown's head coach position. Some of the players that were on the 2001 squad: Ed Reed and Andre Johnson.
The Hurricanes faced Nebraska in the BCS title game and handled the Cornhuskers easily. Eric Crouch, the Nebraska Cornhuskers QB and Heisman Trophy winner, was shut down for most of the game, and the Cornhuskers were down 34-0 at halftime. The final score was 37-14 and earned the Hurricanes their fifth national championship.
Entering the bowl season, the top four teams were Miami, Nebraska, Colorado and Oregon.
Oregon vs. Miami
The Ducks would have entered the game 10-1 with their only loss to unranked Stanford at home. Unfortunately for Oregon, it wouldn't have mattered what its record was; the Hurricanes would have defeated it soundly.
Colorado vs. Nebraska
This one is simple: Colorado defeated Nebraska in Boulder 62-36 Thanksgiving weekend. That alone tells you what would have happened if they met again in a playoff game. Colorado should have played against Miami.
Championship Game: Miami vs. Colorado
Being one of the best of all time, the Hurricanes would have had no problem handling the Buffaloes.
2002: Would Ohio State Have Won the National Championship?
This scenario is very intriguing to say the least. When the Buckeyes defeated the Hurricanes in the BCS title game, it was considered an upset by most. That fact alone makes a four-team playoff compelling.
The four teams that would have competed that year are Miami, Ohio State, Iowa and USC.
USC vs. Miami
This game itself would have been fascinating. The Heisman Trophy winner, Carson Palmer, led the USC Trojans over No. 3 Iowa easily in the Orange Bowl. The Trojans were an offensive juggernaut in 2002. However, they struggled earlier that season with losses against No. 25 Kansas State and No. 18 Washington State.
On the other hand, the Hurricanes were out to defend their national championship and had the players to do it. USC may have had a good offense, but it never faced a defense like that of the Miami Hurricanes. Therefore, the 'Canes would have moved on.
Iowa vs. Ohio State
Iowa had a good season in 2002 with only one defeat to in-state rival Iowa State during the third week of the season. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, the Buckeyes was undefeated in 2002, but they did not meet Iowa that season. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes would most likely have defeated the Hawkeyes, i.e. the battle of the "eyes," too.
Championship Game: Ohio State vs. Miami
The BCS got it right, and Ohio State shocked the world by defeating the Miami Hurricanes.
2003: Would LSU Have Won the National Championship?
Perhaps you've heard of this head coach, Nick Saban. Well, his first national championship was with the LSU Tigers, and it was this game against the Oklahoma Sooners where he won it. However, this game was not without controversy; even though the polls had USC as the No. 1 team in the nation, the BCS computers spit out Oklahoma as the team that would face LSU in the title game.
The teams in this year's four-team playoff: USC, LSU, Oklahoma and Michigan.
Michigan vs. USC
This is an easy one. Since Michigan lost to USC in the Rose Bowl 28-14, it's clear USC would have also won in a playoff game.
Oklahoma vs. LSU
Same situation with this game as well; LSU defeated Oklahoma 21-14 in the BCS title game. Therefore, we will assume that LSU would have faced USC in the title game.
Championship Game: USC vs. LSU
Even though USC had a misstep earlier in the season against Cal, the game would have been close, but the Trojans would have been victorious. Regardless, the BCS got it wrong big time. Oklahoma should have never been there, period.
2004: Would USC Have Won the National Championship?
No longer recognized as the 2004 BCS champions due to rules violations and sanctions handed down in 2010, the USC Trojans defeated the Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl 55-19.
However, again controversy surrounded the BCS title game since USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, and Utah were all undefeated; unfortunately, neither Auburn nor Utah were given a chance to face No. 1 USC. Utah was seen as acceptable to pass over since Texas was ranked No. 4, but Auburn was not.
Here are the four teams that would have faced off in a playoff that season: USC, Oklahoma, Auburn and Texas.
Texas vs. USC
Texas had a great season going 10-1 heading into the bowl season. Its only loss was to No. 2 Oklahoma 12-0 in the fifth game of the season. That being said, the Longhorns would have struggled against the Trojans and surely would have been eliminated from the playoffs.
Auburn vs. Oklahoma
Sorry Sooner fans, but Tommy Tuberville's Tigers would have taken you out of the playoffs if this game would have actually occurred. Oh, by the way, the defensive coordinator for the Auburn Tigers that year was current head coach Gene Chizik.
Championship Game: Auburn vs. USC
The BCS got it wrong in 2004. The Auburn Tigers would have defeated the Trojans of USC, and the cries of "War Eagle" would have prevented USC's humiliation six years later when its title got stripped. Oh well.
2005: Would Texas Have Won the National Championship?
Arguably the greatest BCS title game of them all, the Texas Longhorns defeated the USC Trojans in Pasadena to capture the national championship.
Both teams entered the game undefeated, and some analysts proclaimed this USC team as one of the greatest in college football history—clearly before this game was played.
Texas, on the other hand, scored 652 points that season, the most in college football history.
This matchup was the correct one without controversy. Therefore, I say forget the four-team playoff scenario since this game was both perfect and incredible.
2006: Would Florida Have Won the National Championship?
The game that started the current SEC dominance in BCS title games, the Florida Gators faced the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and shocked world with the 41-14 beatdown. It also started Ohio State's struggle with SEC teams.
It was Urban Meyer's second season as head coach of the Gators, and he is currently entering his first season as Ohio State's head man. It also was Florida's 10-year anniversary of winning its first national championship and 100-year anniversary of playing collegiate football. Clearly, the planets were aligned for the Gators that season.
The four teams that would have competed in a playoff that season: Ohio State, Florida, Michigan and LSU.
LSU vs. Ohio State
If Ohio State couldn't handle the Florida beatdown, are we to think it would have handled No. 4 LSU that year as well? LSU lost to Auburn and Florida that season, but the speed alone on LSU's defense would have handled the Buckeyes as well.
Michigan vs. Florida
Same song, but a different dance perhaps. The Gators would have destroyed the Wolverines as easily as they did against Ohio State. This season introduced the speed and defensive dominance of the SEC, and clearly Michigan would have succumbed to the Gators just as Ohio State did.
Championship Game: Florida vs. LSU
Since LSU lost earlier in the season to the Gators, we could surmise LSU would have lost to Florida that season. The BCS got the game wrong, but the champion right.
2007: Would LSU Have Won the National Championship?
Another year of futility for the Ohio State Buckeyes when they faced the LSU Tigers in the BCS title game, losing 38-24 in the Louisiana Superdome. LSU became the first team to win two BCS titles; the Florida Gators would do it the following year.
However, would LSU have won in a playoff scenario? The four teams would have been Ohio State, LSU, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma.
Oklahoma vs. Ohio State
Oklahoma lost two games to unranked teams in 2007: Colorado and Texas Tech. Clearly, Ohio State would have handed the Sooners easily—Oklahoma even lost to West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl to end the season 11-3.
Virginia Tech vs. LSU
This one is easy: The Hokies lost to LSU in the second week of the season, 48-7.
Championship Game: Ohio State vs. LSU
The BCS got it right in 2007.
2008: Would Florida Have Won the National Championship?
The 2009 BCS game had No. 1 Oklahoma against No. 2 Florida in Miami Gardens, and the Gators won 24-14. The Sooners went into halftime with the lead, but the Gators with all-Everything Tim Tebow came back to win their second national championship in three years. The victory made Urban Meyer a god in Gainesville.
However, would the Gators even be there if a playoff were in place? Let's analyze the following four teams: Oklahoma, Florida, Texas and Alabama.
Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Sorry, Oklahoma fans, but the Crimson Tide would have wiped the floor with you in 2008. The Gators struggled against them in the SEC Championship Game, and Alabama's defense would have suffocated the Sooners offense.
Texas vs. Florida
Texas had only one loss that season against Texas Tech; nevertheless, the Gators were unstoppable in 2008. The Gators would have matched up nicely against the Longhorns and won. However, the Longhorns did defeat the Sooners that season.
Championship Game: Florida vs. Alabama
We saw it in 2011-12 (LSU vs. Alabama), and we would have seen a rematch in 2008-09 if a playoff were in place instead of the BCS.
2009: Would Alabama Have Won the National Championship?
Sorry, but the BCS got it right in 2009: Alabama Crimson Tide was dominating, and no one had a chance against this squad. Playoff or BCS, it wouldn't have mattered.
2010: Would Auburn Have Won the National Championship?
Talk about a season of controversy!
The Auburn Tigers, with QB Cam Newton (former Florida Gators QB) at the helm, met the Oregon Ducks in Glendale, Ariz., for the BCS title game.
The season was marked with the Cam Newton story and if he should even be playing for the Auburn Tigers since it was alleged his father asked for money to play. It was proved he requested payment from Mississippi State, but the NCAA could not prove Auburn paid or was asked to pay for Newton's services.
It also led to a rabid Alabama fan to poison the oaks at Toomer's Corner after the season.
The four teams that would have been involved in a playoff are Auburn, Oregon, TCU and Stanford.
Stanford vs. Auburn
Stanford experienced one loss against Oregon; therefore, we will assume Auburn would have defeated the Cardinal.
TCU vs. Oregon
TCU was undefeated going into the bowl season and won the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin 21-19, capping off its first undefeated season. Also, the Oregon Ducks were undefeated until losing to Auburn in the title game. This is a tough one, and it is unknown who would have won this matchup.
Championship Game: Auburn vs. Oregon or TCU
Regardless of whom Auburn faced, it would have defeated either one.
2011: Would Alabama Have Won the National Championship?
Let's end this slideshow with the following: The defensive power of both Alabama and LSU would overwhelm any other teams in the BCS. Some may argue some NFL teams would have struggled against these defenses.
Albeit anti-climatic, the BCS got it right even if it bored us all to tears.
The answer is: Yes, Alabama would have won in a four-team playoff.