Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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College Football Playoff is outstanding upgrade

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: January 10, 2014 - 10:41 AM

The BCS didn't deserve the vitriol aimed its way in 16 years as a vehicle to choose a national champion in big-time college football. There was only one disputed champion:

LSU, in 2003, when it defeated Oklahoma in the BCS game, and the Associated Press media panel voted Southern Cal as the national champion.

The BCS went out on a wave of good feeling, as it offered Florida State’s 34-31 comeback victory over Auburn in its last-ever title game.

Now, the climax to the college football season is going to be much-improved, starting with the 2014 season. Not only will there be four teams in a playoff for the national title, but bowl games that carry actual prestige will be more clearly defined.

The improvement starts with the name for the new method of crowning a champion. No BCS. No Bowl Coalition. College Football Playoff. We all can figure out what that means.

The four-team bracket won’t be selected by polls or computers. Much like the NCAA basketball tournaments, the teams will be selected by a committee – in this case, 13 people.

The difference is the NCAA has no input with the College Football Playoff, and no control of the proceeds. As with the BCS, this remains the baby of the five power conferences: SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac 12, plus Notre Dame.

The former Big East football conference is now the American Athletic Conference, and has been reduced to being bracketed in the “Group of Five’’ with the Mountain West, Mid-American, Sun Belt and Conference USA. The Group of Five is being treated as the equivalent to the  basketball mid-majors, and those conferences will be guaranteed one berth combined in a major bowl game.

Previously, there were four bowl games tied in with the BCS: Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta. The Cotton Bowl, played in Jerry Jones’ stadium in Dallas, and the Chick-fil-a Bowl (formerly the Peach), played in Atlanta, are now part of the mix.

The College Football Playoff committee will seed four teams for the playoff. There is no limit on the number of teams per conference. In other words, Alabama and Auburn – both from the SEC West – would have made the playoff this time.

Two of the six bowls will be bracketed together to serve as sites for the playoff semifinals: Rose and Sugar for the 2014-15 playoff, Orange and Cotton for 2015-16, Fiesta and Chick-fil-a in 2016-17, and then continuing forward in that pattern through 2025 season.

That’s how long the deal between the College Football Playoff power brokers and ESPN runs. If the conference partners decide to expand the playoff from four teams to eight sooner rather than later, ESPN figures to be willing to negotiate.

What the four-team playoff does is what the big-dog conference always have insisted they want to do: preserves the bowl system. For that reason, I think there's a better than 50-50 chance that the playoff stays at four teams for the full 12 years of this deal.

You can debate that, but this system is going to be an outstanding upgrade -- both for creating an initial playoff for the major colleges, but also for the four bowls that won’t be hosting one of the semifinals in a given year.

The bowls are going to bill themselves as the “New Year’s Six.’’ In the years it isn't hosting a semifinal, the Rose Bowl will have call on teams from the Big Ten and Pac 12, the Sugar Bowl will have call on the SEC and the Big 12, and the Orange Bowl on the ACC.

Part of the new deal appears to be that the Orange Bowl becomes the likely landing spot for a Big Ten team in the years that the Rose Bowl is hosting a semifinal.

The “New Year’s Six’’ bowl games will be played on back-to-back days (when possible) in tripleheaders. And the title game will be played on a Monday night, six or more days after the New Year’s semifinals. The first title game is set for the Cowboys’ stadium in Dallas next January.

This is the way the College Football Playoff system and the New Year’s Six bowls would have looked if this system had been in effect for this past season.

Semifinals: Rose Bowl-Michigan State (No. 4 seed) vs. Florida State (No. 1). Sugar Bowl-Auburn (No. 2) vs. Alabama (No. 3), in a rematch of their epic regular-season finale.

CFP Championship Game: Jan. 13.

And the eight teams playing in the Fiesta, Cotton, Orange and Chick-fil-a Bowls would have been Stanford, Baylor, Ohio State, South Carolina, Missouri, Oregon, Central Florida and either Oklahoma or Clemson.

Not much different, except when your local team tries to claim great prestige for having reached a New Year’s Bowl, you’ll now be able to say, “Was it a New Year’s Six bowl? If not, it doesn’t count.’’

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 13 3rd Qtr 11:50
San Francisco 0
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 3rd Prd 7:53
Nashville 0
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 59 2nd Half 3:52
Western Mich 51
Marquette 49 2nd Half 10:03
Georgia Tech 44
Stephen F Austin 35 2nd Half 18:35
Prairie View 28
UAB 22 2nd Half
Florida 27
Rice 26 1st Half 1:29
Mercer 30
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 20 4th Qtr 12:10
Texas A&M 10
(6) TCU 20 4th Qtr 15:00
Texas 3
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 57 2nd Half 3:38
South Florida 76
Princeton 62 2nd Half 4:08
Wake Forest 48
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

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