OVERTIME: College football playoff is a year late

BEN SIECK | ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

The Butler football team is playoff bound. I hope its players realize how lucky they are.

The Bulldogs secured a share of the Pioneer Football League title for the second consecutive season with their win over Morehead State last Saturday. After winning the tiebreaker with Marist, the Bulldogs are headed to the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

Butler will be at a sizable disadvantage considering most teams in the playoffs will be scholarship schools.

However, at least the Bulldogs are afforded the opportunity to settle the score on the field. For one last season, schools in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision will be forced to rely on computer formulas to determine who should play for the championship.

At its best, the Bowl Championship Series era has ushered in a form of determining which team is the recognized champion beyond end of year polling. At its worst, it has led to disputed titles and schools deserving of title consideration on the outside looking in.

Although it features just four teams, the BCS will be giving way to a playoff system to crown college football’s champion next season.

Of course, it is only fitting that in the final year of the BCS, as many as six teams could have a legitimate gripe if they are left out of the national championship game. Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Baylor, Oregon and Auburn are all viable candidates to play in Pasadena on Jan. 6.

As things stand now, Alabama and Florida State have the inside track to play in the title game, but those other teams could all have a strong case why they should take the field.

Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor are undefeated and have the best argument for playing in the national championship if the season ended today. Based on those four teams’ remaining schedules, only Alabama and Baylor have a real risk of losing their perfect record in the regular season.

The fourth-ranked Baylor Bears travel to Stillwater, Okla. to take on No. 10 Oklahoma State Saturday. If Baylor can get by the Cowboys, then it should cruise to a perfect record.

Top-ranked Alabama’s test comes in two weeks when the Crimson Tide travel to Auburn to take on the sixth-ranked Tigers in the Iron Bowl.

Auburn is fresh off a miraculous win over Georgia, and will have two weeks to prepare for the Tide. The winner of this game will go to SEC championship game and then potentially the national championship.

Should Baylor stumble, the championship picture only gets clearer, but if Auburn takes down Alabama, the picture gets murkier.

If Alabama wins out, then it will play for their third consecutive and fourth championship in five years. However, should Auburn pull off the upset, will that be enough to vault the one-loss Tigers over undefeated Baylor and Ohio State squads? That’s the championship question.

Generally, I am of the opinion that a perfect team should get a chance to play over a one-loss team. Nevertheless, Auburn and Oregon both have better resumes than Ohio State despite their losses.

Ohio State has only played one team that is currently ranked this year, defeating No. 19 Wisconsin 31-24 in September.

Ohio State is certainly a talented team. Twenty-two straight wins is nothing to laugh at. Still, the competitive gap between the Big 10 and conferences like the SEC and Pac-12 is monumental. It doesn’t help the Buckeyes that their non-conference schedule includes Buffalo, Florida A&M and San Diego State.

Ohio State will likely square off against No. 14 Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship. Even if the Buckeyes win, I find it hard to justify their inclusion in the national championship game over Baylor, Auburn or Oregon.

An undefeated Baylor team should rank above Auburn and Oregon, but it will be interesting to see how the computers value an Auburn win over Alabama.

Knowing college football, this whole column might be moot by the end of the season with Alabama and Florida State as the only undefeated teams left.

However, I find it hard to believe that things are going to work out perfectly for the BCS. Just look at 2004 Auburn, 2003 USC or any number of Boise State, Texas Christian University and other undefeated non-BCS conference teams that were left out in the cold.

Up to this point, Alabama and Florida State have separated themselves from the rest of the pack with their dominance on the field.

I predict that both will finish the season undefeated and end up playing in Pasadena. Should that happen, Florida State represents the rest of college football’s best chance to end the SEC’s run of seven straight titles. I give Jameis Winston and the Seminoles the advantage over the Crimson Tide.

College football will get the playoff system it desperately needs, but it might end up being a year too late for the season that needs it the most.

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