Week 14 college football picks … the picks of Champions

College Football Playoff logoOne more season ending with five Power Five conference championships deciding four College Football Playoff spots. One conference, possibly two, will be left out in the cold.

I’ve suggested this before, but one solution could be having Power Five conference semifinals, and using those semifinals as part of an expanded College Football Playoffs.

The CFP would be for only the Power Five conference champions and one wild-card team. The champion would be determined from the top two teams in the divisions within the conference (so that means each conference would need to have two divisions).

The other non-semifinal conference teams would be paired for inter-divisional games on a TBD campus on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving or on the Thursday and Friday before championship Saturday.

How would this whole thing work?

  • In each conference, every team would play everyone else in its respective division (just as it is currently).
  • Each team’s schedule would include just the one common, opposite-division opponent (to be played each season – just as it is currently in most conferences). One of the rotating, opposite-division spots on the schedule would be eliminated. There would still be 12 games on the schedule because that spot on the schedule would go to the season’s end for either 1) conference semifinal or 2) a game against a selected, inter-divisional opponent.
  • The “regular season” would end on the weekend before Thanksgiving (and we’re assuming all conferences adhere to the same type of scheduling, therefore preserving all season-ending, inter-conference rivalry games — e.g., Clemson-South Carolina, Florida-Florida State).
  • On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the top seed from each division would play host to the second seed from the opposite division for the conference semifinals. The championship would be the following weekend at a neutral site.
  • This gives us five conference champions. A committee would select one wild-card team from among the conference runners-up, Notre Dame, BYU or any of the high-ranking Group of Five teams.
  • The top two seeded teams get a bye while the other four play on-campus quarterfinals on the weekend after the Heisman Trophy presentation.
  • Semifinals would be played on New Year’s Day (moving it off New Year’s Eve) and the championship the following week.
  • The remaining conference championship runners-up will go to the respective bowl tie-in (e.g., the Big Ten runner-up, if it is not selected as the CFP wild card, will go to the Rose Bowl).

So, in essence …

  • It is a 20-team (or 21-team if a non-Power 5 team gets the wild card) college football playoff that begins within the conferences.
  • The regular-season schedule isn’t reduced, but, um, enhanced.
  • A selection committee is now in charge of seeding and selecting one team (the wild card) instead of four.

Conducting semifinals likely would ensure the best two teams in the conference would play in the championship, regardless of division. And if a team can make it through the semifinals and a championship, it absolutely deserves a spot in the CFP as a conference champion, regardless of how many regular-season losses it may have.

Yes, this likley would eliminate the Group of Five teams from consideration. But maybe it’s time those conferences conduct a national championship of its own, as some pundits have suggested.

But on with the picks on championship week …

Get to pickin’

Here are my picks for Week 14, again, without even thinking:

Georgia vs. Auburn (SEC Championship): 31-14, Auburn. The Tigers’ defense looks capable of stopping any offense in the nation.

Miami vs. Clemson (ACC Championship): 32-24, Clemson. Tigers will finish the season at the top of the CFP.

TCU vs. Oklahoma (Big 12 Championship): 45-21, Oklahoma. Sooners had no problems with the Frogs during the regular season.

Ohio State at Wisconsin (Big Ten Championship): 28-17, Ohio State. Badgers leave the ranks of the unbeaten.

Stanford vs. USC (Pac-12 Championship): 45-41, Stanford. The Cardinal, which just took care of Washington, will be ready for the Trojans.

Memphis vs. Central Florida (C-USA Championship): 42-35, Central Florida. Might be the best conference championship of the weekend.

North Texas vs. Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt Championship): 28-21, Florida Atlantic. Lane Kiffin ends his first regular season at FAU on a high note.

Fresno State vs. Boise State (Mountain West Championship): 28-17, Fresno State. Hey, didn’t these guys just play last week?

Lightning fast picks

Now here’s some really fast, no-thinking picks, winners only:

Toledo (MAC championship), Florida State, Florida International, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Appalachian State, South Alabama, Arkansas State. … hmm, short list.

Not thinking last week: 41-17 (71 percent);

Not thinking for the season: 596-202 (75 percent)

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