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Projecting a CFB playoff field

Which teams would have cracked a college football playoff field this season?

Originally Published: December 3, 2012
By Brad Edwards | ESPN Insider

Since the BCS began in 1998, there have been many years when the formula's choice of national championship game participants was widely debated or even highly controversial.

This was not one of those years.

With Notre Dame being the only eligible undefeated team and ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings, and the Nos. 2 and 3 teams (Alabama and Georgia) having played each other on the final day of the regular season, there wasn't much for fans to dispute. But if the four-team playoff that is scheduled to begin in the 2014 season had begun this year instead, there's no question that the choices made by the selection committee would've been a major topic of discussion for weeks to come.

This shouldn't be a surprising statement, considering how much criticism the college basketball selection committee gets almost every year for its decisions. And that criticism is primarily focused on bubble teams, which, in the national pecking order, are equivalent to the teams with a 7-5 record in college football.

But how would basketball fans react if more than half of the top 10 teams were left out of the tournament? That's exactly what's going to happen in football with the playoff system. And it will happen every year.

The first challenge for the selection committee will be determining which four teams should be in the playoff -- not a simple task when teams have played only 12 or 13 games and there are very few common opponents among the top teams. Statistical comparisons are also dangerous, given how different the level of competition can be within conferences.

Will the committee consider injuries when it evaluates a team's loss(es), as it does in basketball? Will it consider momentum to close the season?

There are two things that we know for certain will receive strong consideration. Over the past several months, we have been told on many occasions that the college football selection committee will be asked to place an emphasis on schedule strength and conference championships. Exactly how those factors are weighed by the committee remains to be seen, but they are supposed to be differentiating components.

What would the BCS playoff system look like if it were in place this season?

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