We’re entering the college football regular season’s final-ish week. There has been ample talk about postseason formats and how many games would be “relevant” with each. We decided to break that down for the BCS, the current four-team playoff, and the 8-team playoff.
Two teams reach the national title game in the BCS. Alabama losing to Auburn would not drop the Tide below Clemson or Washington. So, only one remaining regular season game would be relevant.
Ohio State vs. Michigan: “Conference champion” is a new fixation of the four-team playoff. It wasn’t a concern under the BCS. Ohio State beating Michigan would keep them at No. 2, regardless of how the B1G East played out. Michigan would be No. 2 if they beat Ohio State.
Four slots in the current playoff. That means more games are relevant.
Ohio State vs. Michigan: Ohio State should be in with a win, come what may. Michigan needs to win to get to the B1G title game, which it also needs to win.
Penn State vs. Michigan State: Penn State may not make the playoff. But, they are the probable winner of the B1G East. Them winning it could set up two B1G teams making it.
Wisconsin vs. Minnesota: A 2-loss Wisconsin would still be in play for a playoff bid. Wisconsin needs to have two losses and win the B1G West, of course.
Clemson vs. South Carolina: Losing to South Carolina would not change Clemson’s position regarding the ACC standings. But, having one or two losses could change whether Clemson gets a bid.
Washington at Washington State: The Apple Cup decides the Pac 12 North. The conference’s playoff hopes rest with Washington.
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: The Big 12 gets a de facto championship game. It’s a long shot, but a two-loss Big 12 champ is still in the discussion.
An eight-team playoff with auto-bids means more relevant games. Every game with an impact on a conference title would be relevant. So would many involving outside contenders. This would be even more games if the SEC title showdown were not already locked in.
Ohio State vs. Michigan: Michigan reaches the B1G title game winning. OSU needs to win for a shot. Both these teams may be in the mix for an at large with a loss.
Penn State vs. Michigan State: Penn State can still win the B1G title and reach the playoff.
Wisconsin vs. Minnesota: Wisconsin can still win the B1G title and reach the playoff.
Nebraska at Iowa: Nebraska wins the B1G West with a win and a Wisconsin loss.
Clemson vs. South Carolina: Not as big of a deal for Clemson as it would be under the four-team playoff. They get in by winning the ACC. Losing could affect their viability as an at large with an ACC title game upset. Losing could also cost them home field in the first round.
Louisville vs. Kentucky: Louisville is out of the ACC title mix. They would be in the discussion for one of the three at-large bids at 10-2.
Virginia Tech vs. Virginia: Virginia Tech is still eligible for a bid winning the ACC. They need to beat Virginia to get to the title game.
North Carolina vs. N.C. State: North Carolina is still eligible winning the ACC. They need a win and a North Carolina loss.
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: Bedlam is a de facto B12 title game. The winner is going to the playoff.
Washington at Washington State: The Pac 12 gets an automatic bid. This game decides the North and which of the two will play for it.
Colorado vs. Utah: Colorado clinches the South with a win, and a chance to play their way in.
USC vs. Notre Dame: USC can get an auto-bid if Colorado loses and they win the South. They could also be in the mix for an at large at 9-3 with their strong recent form and wins over Colorado and Washington during the regular season.
Western Michigan vs. Toledo: The playoff may have an automatic Group of 5 slot. Western Michigan may still be in the mix for an at large bid. At least more in the mix than they would be under the four-team arrangement.