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Introducing the College Football Tournament

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Football is officially back and every team has a path to the National Championship. Plus: a Week 0 Preview

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The 2018 College Football season is already over.

Clemson escaped Ohio State in the Orange Bowl and Alabama cruised past Washington/Oklahoma/Georgia in the Cotton Bowl to set up a set up a 4th consecutive Playoff showdown. With the Championship Game in the Bay Area, we will be treated to many comparisons to the Cavs-Warriors NBA rivalry. Just like Golden State, the Crimson Tide Dynasty rolls to a 3rd ring in 4 years. No other teams need dream such lofty dreams

This is the reality of college football…if you believe every pre-season magazine, all the polls, and frankly our own common sense of watching this sport during the Committee-led Playoff-era. This is the accurate and rational perspective as detailed intelligently in the Preseason Poll Rant

As a counterpoint to the above, welcome to the College Football Tournament – 130 teams are preparing for their first game with a path to become crowned National Champion in Levi Stadium on January 7, 2019. Every fan of every team can mark down the date on their calendar and know they have a shot to be part of that celebration.

This is idealistic, to be sure, but I’m not so naïve as to think 130 teams start the season with an equal chance of reaching the Playoff, especially those appealing an NCAA bowl ban. The SEC and brand-name Power 5 teams with strong schedules can make the Playoff with 2 losses; all other Power 5 teams and brand-name Group of 5 with strong schedules can make the Playoff with one loss; all other teams are eliminated with any G5 loss:

*Louisville gets the bump to Major P5 by way of playing Alabama in non-conference, along with Clemson and FSU. Winning any two of those would essentially erase the loss in the third.

^TCU gets the bump to Major P5 by way of being my alma mater and this is Frogs O’ War playing Ohio State in non-conference and getting a rematch opportunity in the Big XII Championship game, where a win could absolve an earlier loss.

+West Virginia gets the bump to Major P5 by way of preseason hype and Big XII Bias playing two above-average P5s out of conference and then needing to survive the Big XII round-robin and championship. Even with 2 losses, the Mountaineers would have 10 P5 wins if they won the Big XII. The SEC champion would have to go undefeated to earn as many P5 wins.

These tiers are surrounded with brick walls and shark-infested waters – not impenetrable, but will require demonstration of great skill and strength to navigate. All of the teams in the tiers above you must be eliminated in order for a lower tier team to be guaranteed a spot in the Playoff. For example, an undefeated G5 team with only one P5 win (over 4-win Maryland, for instance) does not have the juice to jump ahead of the Power 5 giants with fewer than 3 losses; or the Committee would have to be convinced that defeating Western Kentucky and New Mexico at home is a higher qualifier than losing to Auburn in Atlanta

This is about survival, crushing the hopes of your rivals, and watching as utter chaos consumes every corner of the sport, leaving your squad as the last one standing. Every team has a chance; every game has an impact. This is the College Football Tournament, buckle up and enjoy the wild ride.


Week 0 Preview

Again this season we get treated to a nice football appetizer prior to the Labor Day Weekend all-you-can-eat kickoff buffet. Week 0 serves up a pair of play-in games that will thin the field down to its true 128-team form. Only four games on the docket, but each represents an elimination opportunity – 2 G5-FCS matchups and 2 Guaranteed Elimination showdowns, as two teams will see their season crumble before most others even step on the field:

1. Hawaii @ Colorado State (-14) – It’s been tough surfing for the Rainbow Warriors since reaching their apex in 2007, wiping out as soon as the calendar turned to 2008: getting fully embarrassed in the Sugar Bowl and immediately losing head coach June Jones to SMU. It’s hard to imagine Hawaii reaching bowl eligibility this season and it seems unlikely they’ll leave the mainland as a participant in the Tournament. Real Life Note: Prayers up for safety and shelter as Hurricane Lane approaches the Hawaiian Islands.

CSU has the schedule to break the G5 glass ceiling, with three challenging but winnable Power 5 games and a trip to Boise that can serve as a strong resume for Committee and NY6 consideration. Keep your eyes on Colorado State, as they will have every opportunity to cause chaos and make a run through the College Football Tournament…assuming they can kick it off by sending Hawaii home to an early vacation in Week 0.

Poll

Who will be eliminated?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
    (15 votes)
  • 21%
    Colorado State Rams
    (4 votes)
19 votes total Vote Now

Where to watch: Sat. 8/25, 6:30 PM, CBS Sports


2. Wyoming (-4) @ New Mexico St. – The new season brings about true new beginnings for these programs: Wyoming moves on without its most highly touted player ever while the Aggies are wandering into the unknown territory of independence.

The NMSU departure from the Sun Belt is understandable - their nearest conference member was Texas State, a 9 hour drive from the Las Cruces campus. In a media landscape of open streaming and easy national presence, being tied to a low-level G5 conference was of very little benefit. The difficulty will be scheduling (this season NMSU plays FBS newcomers Liberty twice), but think these Aggies will have success in their conference departure. NMSU won a bowl in 2017, the result of a long program-build process, and will now have to build its credentials without bowl tie-ins or conference affiliation.

Wyoming was in the national spotlight in 2017 - NFL scouts were drooling over the Franchise QB potential of Josh Allen, but those traits were rarely the primary cause of Saturday wins. Wyoming’s 2017 success was often despite the on-field play of their golden goose, so the adjustment to the empty nest should be quick. This game is a toss-up and will sufficiently satisfy our football appetite as we wait for the season to return in earnest next week.

Poll

Who will be eliminated

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Wyoming Cowboys
    (6 votes)
  • 62%
    New Mexico State Aggies
    (10 votes)
16 votes total Vote Now

Where to watch: Sat. 8/25, 9:00 PM, ESPN2


Week 0 Preview Dashboard