By KYLE ITO
This season in college football, there will be a four-team bracket battle for a spot in the Championship game. The top four ranked teams will play in bowl games until the semifinals of the playoff. The winners of the semifinals games will move on to play each other in the Championship game. Unlike previous years, a committee will seed the top teams instead of using computer rankings or polls. This will be the first time the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Football Championship will be determined by a bracket competition.
Because previous seasons ended in controversy, a playoff system has become more popular among football fans. The system will most likely be in place until the end of the 2025 college football season. The implementation of the playoff system this year is significant because the top four teams can now be changed depending on the outcome of the last two games in the regular season.
So far, the top four teams are Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State. Although they are all skilled teams, there is no guarantee that all four of these teams will be in the playoff bracket by the end of the regular season.
Alabama has a good chance of playing and winning in the Championship game because of its experience in past years. They were disappointed last year when they lost to Auburn in the Iron Bowl, moving the Tigers into the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Championship game against the Florida State Seminoles. Yet, the positions are switched this year, with Alabama back at the top of the ranks.
Oregon is known for its explosive, fast paced offense and high scoring. Yet, for the past few seasons, it has not reached the Championship game. Oregon currently has the leading Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota playing as quarterback. Two of its players, quarterback Mariota and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, are possible first round picks in next year’s National Football League (NFL) Draft. Many believe that their leadership and skill will help lead Oregon to a Championship game. The team is looking to capture a championship title after suffering a devastating BCS Championship game loss to Auburn during the 2010 season. Oregon may be the most successful team of the top four because they are a difficult team to play defense against, and Marcus Mariota is the best dual threat quarterback in college football as of now.
Florida State is the undefeated team and last year’s BCS Champions, but has played very close games against Oklahoma State and Miami. Still, it has a considerable chance of making it to the Championship once again with last year’s Heisman winning quarterback, Jameis Winston. At the moment, the team is not ranked #1 because it won many of its games by slim margins. Many of its fans still expect Florida State to win its last two games and remain undefeated in regular season play. The Seminoles are hoping for an Oregon and Alabama loss within the next two games in order for them to move up the ranks with ease.
Mississippi State has been one of the most surprising teams this year, considering it was not ranked last year. This year is the first time in the Bulldogs’ history to be ranked first in the nation. The team has a Heisman candidate quarterback playing, Dak Prescott, and is attempting to surprise the nation with an appearance in the Championship game. Mississippi State has played impressively, beating three top ten teams this season. The Bulldogs have the highest chance of the current top four teams to drop out of the playoff bracket because they had a tough last game against the Ole Miss Rebels. It would be interesting if they made it to the playoff because they are an unfamiliar team to many.
Being ranked in the top 25 teams nationally is a tough task, but ranking top four is even more challenging. Top teams fighting for a national championship have to be consistent throughout their whole season and play fundamentally sound through teamwork and cooperation. The players have worked hard through training camps, practice and the off-season to reach this point.
College football is a tradition whether you are a fan of the university, or if you are a student attending it. A college team makes the state and the university proud with success on the field. One college team will give its fans an achievement to celebrate if it wins the championship, while the other will be left with bitter disappointment, but hope for coming years. No matter the team, all college football fans are hoping the new playoff system will exceed their expectations.