This is the fifth part of my six-part series about how to legitimize the national championship in college football by turning the regular season into a long playoff. For more details about the format on a national scale, check out the first article by clicking here or my bleacher report archive.
As part of the new "playoff season structure," all of the Division I FBS will be divided into four super-conferences whose champions will compete in a national semifinal. (How does "Football Four" sound?)
A newly-formed Midwestern Big 32 Conference would be one of these new 32-team conferences whose champion will earn a spot in the Orange Bowl against the SEC champion. The
How will the Big 32 be organized? Here is the pool breakdown
Indiana Group: Indiana, Ball State, Purdue, Toledo- With Purdue being down, this has become the weakest pool group in the entire conference. Not much else to say when it comes to college football in the state of Indiana.
Predicted Winners: Indiana and Toledo
Upper Midwest Group: Wisconsin, Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota - A strong group that provides plenty of rivalry between each of the four schools (Iowa-ISU, Iowa-Wisconsin, Wisconsin-Minnesota). This will greatly increase the stakes of annual Iowa vs. Wisconsin battles.
Predicted Winners: Iowa and Wisconsin
Winners Play in Upper Midwest/Indiana Pool: Predicted Winner: Iowa
Illinois Group: Illinois, Northwestern, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan- Another mediocre pool in the upper midwest. If Illinois can get a hold of Chicago area recruiting, their program along with a currently competitive Northwestern can make this interesting.
Predicted Winners: Illinois and Northwestern
Corn Group: Kansas, KSU, Nebraska, Missouri- Nebraska is the historical and current favorite to take care of this region and win the Plains Championship. All of these schools have been rivals since their days in the Big Eight and playoff implications will turn up the meaning beyond losing the Bug XII title game to Texas or Oklahoma.
Predicted Winners: Nebraska and Kansas State
Winners of these pools play for Plains Championship: Predicted Winner Nebraska
Arkansas Region: Arkansas, Ark. State, *Appalachian State, *Stephen F. Austin- Arkansas was kind of used as a filler region to complete the bracket. Although the Razorbacks do not have much competition in the first round, they will have enough to handle by playing the winners of the Oklahoma pool in the regional round.
Predicted Winners: Arkansas and Appalachian State
Oklahoma Region: Oklahoma, Tulsa, OK State, Kent State- I know its odd that an Ohio based MAC school Kent State is in the Oklahoma pool, but there are simply too many FBS schools in Ohio and this was the closest region they could be placed in without breaking up local rivalries. Kent State under this system would probably get their travel partially alleviated by the NCAA or Oklahoma schools to balance things out. Other than that, this pool is Oklahoma and Oklahoma State's group to lose.
Predicted Winners: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State
Winners Play in Oklahoma/Arkansas Championship Pool Predicted Winner: Oklahoma
Metro Texas Region: TCU, Rice, Houston, SMU- The top football colleges in Dallas and Houston battle out urban bragging right. Even without a single BCS school, TCU is a national power and Houston and SMU are investing significant resources in their programs to strengthen them up to make this pool one of the stronger groups in the conference and the nation.
Predicted Winners: TCU and Houston
Rural Texas Region: Baylor, Texas, North Texas, Texas A&M- Texas is the clear favorite in this group. However, this can make Texas vs Texas A&M more competitive.
Predicted Winners: Texas and Texas A&M
Winners of these pools play in Texas Championship: Predicted Winner TCU
Red River Championship: Texas Champ vs Oklahoma/Arkansas Champ: Pick: TCU defeats Oklahoma
Heartland Championship: Plains vs Upper Midwest/Indiana Champ Pick: Nebraska defeats Iowa
The Big 32 Championship Game will be the Cotton Bowl:
Predicted Winner: Nebraska
The Big 32 is a strong division with Midwestern powers such as Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin in the north and strong programs like Texas, Oklahoma, and TCU in the south.