The 2014 college football season is officially underway, and the talk has already begun regarding the new playoff system. With the archaic BCS gone and a traditional four-team postseason in its place, it’s an exciting time to be a fan of the sport.
After the final rankings of the year are released, the top four teams will be seeded in the semifinals of a bracket-style playoff system. The winners of each semifinal matchup then advance to the championship game January 12.
With plenty of teams fighting for the honor of being the first to run the college football playoff table, here are the preseason rankings and the postseason predictions.
|Rank||Associated Press Top 25||Amway Top 25|
|1||Florida State Seminoles||Florida State Seminoles|
|2||Alabama Crimson Tide||Alabama Crimson Tide|
|3||Oregon Ducks||Oklahoma Sooners|
|4||Oklahoma Sooners||Oregon Ducks|
|5||Ohio State Buckeyes||Auburn Tigers|
|6||Auburn Tigers||Ohio State Buckeyes|
|7||UCLA Bruins||UCLA Bruins|
|8||Michigan State Spartans||Michigan State Spartans|
|9||South Carolina Gamecocks||South Carolina Gamecocks|
|10||Baylor Bears||Baylor Bears|
|11||Stanford Cardinal||Stanford Cardinal|
|12||Georgia Bulldogs||Georgia Bulldogs|
|13||LSU Tigers||LSU Tigers|
|14||Wisconsin Badgers||Wisconsin Badgers|
|15||USC Trojans||USC Trojans|
|16||Clemson Tigers||Clemson Tigers|
|17||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||Notre Dame Fighting Irish|
|18||Mississippi Rebels||Arizona State Sun Devils|
|19||Arizona State Sun Devils||Mississippi Rebels|
|20||Kansas State Wildcats||Texas A&M Aggies|
|21||Texas A&M Aggies||Kansas State Wildcats|
|22||Nebraska Cornhuskers||Nebraska Cornhuskers|
|23||North Carolina Tar Heels||North Carolina Tar Heels|
|24||Missouri Tigers||Texas Longhorns|
|25||Washington Huskies||Washington Huskies|
Source: USAToday.com and Associated Press.
Breaking Down the Final Four
The departure from the traditional BCS postseason is a dream come true for most college football fans. While many were hoping for a more expansive playoffs (possibly eight or 10 teams), the fact that actual change was implemented is a step in the right direction.
Now, the focus shifts to which four teams will contend for the national title.
Last year’s defending champion Florida State Seminoles will be a favorite to repeat this season with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston under center once again. While the roster has encountered a high turnover after the NFL draft, the recruiting from Jimbo Fisher has helped the program replenish the voids.
Florida State starts the season as the No. 1 team in both the AP and the Amway Coaches polls. The pressure will be on the Seminoles from Day 1, but if the program can withstand the scrutiny throughout the season, Florida State will be tough to beat in the postseason.
One team who won’t let Florida State win without a fight will be the Alabama Crimson Tide.
While Alabama is known mostly for its elite play on the defensive side of the ball, the team boasts an underrated offensive unit this season that will shock the SEC. Led by senior quarterback Blake Sims, the unit also features talented running back T.J. Yeldon and standout wide receiver Amari Cooper.
The Crimson Tide may start the season as the No. 2 team in the nation, but with a more difficult schedule than Florida State (the SEC is superior to the ACC), expect the two programs to be fighting for the top spot in the nation throughout the season.
Another team looking to spoil the Seminoles attempt to repeat will be the Oregon Ducks, with quarterback Marcus Mariota leading the dynamic offensive unit against a tough Pac-12 conference schedule. If Oregon can beat the likes of Michigan State, UCLA and Stanford this season, there will be no doubt that the Ducks advance to the four-team playoff.
There are questions about how the Oregon defense will be able to withstand the talent of the tough competition on the schedule, but the program has the firepower to stun many of the top teams in the nation. If the Ducks beat Michigan State in Week 2, expect the team to remain part of the championship conversation all season.
Which team has the best chance at winning the national championship?
If the Tigers were able to knock off Alabama in the Iron Bowl to close the regular season, the team would be a serious championship contender. Even if Auburn loses the final game, a stellar regular season could still earn the program a berth in the postseason.
Regardless of which four teams make the new playoff format, the excitement from college football fans across the country will make it feel special. It’s good to have the BCS gone, and it’s even better to have a postseason format the fans can support.
Predicted National Champions: Alabama Crimson Tide
*Stats via CFBStats.com.