College Football Playoffs: How The BCS Years Would Have Looked (2008-2011)


The second half-decade of the Bowl Championship Series ushered in one controversy after another: a split championship. A two-loss champion. Two powerful unbeatens without a shot at the title.

If that era brought attention to the BCS flaws for the power conferences, recent seasons have illuminated the disadvantage at which programs affiliated with conferences perceived as lesser. Boise State became the first unbeaten, non-automatic qualifier spurned for a BCS at-large bid since Marshall in 1999 in 2008.

That same season, Utah beat SEC powerhouse Alabama by two touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl, completing the only perfect campaign in college football. Yet, the Utes were denied a split championship and their inclusion in the championship game was only considered after the fact.

Boise State and TCU were paired in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, a dismissive middle finger to the non-AQs who wanted the BCS as a platform for proving their worth against the Big Six. TCU would go undefeated the next regular season but garner minimal national championship buzz.


Editor’s Note: The 2008 season was the most tumultuous in the system’s history — so tumultuous, in fact, it deserved its own complete breakdown. Read it here.


An unprecedented five teams finished the 2009 regular season undefeated. Unless you failed Kindergarten math, that’s one team more than the new playoff format allows. Such an occasion is almost impossible to replicate. Anything can happen on a given Saturday, and typically does. Still, the 2009 campaign is a banner argument supporting expansion beyond the four proposed.

1. Alabama (13-0, SEC champion) vs. 4. Cincinnati (12-0, Big East Champion)

A rematch of the SEC championship would likely be more competitive, as Florida proved in its domination of the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. The contrast of Alabama’s defense against UC’s explosive offense would have been intriguing, at least on paper.

2. Texas (13-0, Big 12 champion) vs. 3. TCU (12-0, Mountain West Champion)

This in-state match-up would have been perfect for a Cotton Bowl clash. Colt McCoy vs. Andy Dalton, No. 9 vs. No. 12 scoring defense, Tradition vs. Cinderella.

First Four Out: Florida (12-1), Boise State (12-0, WAC champion), Ohio State (10-2, Big Ten champion), Oregon (10-2, Pac-10 champion)

Florida’s sole loss was in the SEC championship game to Alabama. UF proved its mettle in the Sugar Bowl, routing Cincinnati in what might have been Tim Tebow’s best collegiate game (which is really saying something). The Gators were a championship caliber team, but then again so was unbeaten Boise State.

The 2009 Broncos were arguably the program’s best ever. After running the regular season table for a second consecutive season, BSU exacted revenge for the lone blemish on its 2008 slate by defeating TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. In the process, Kellen Moore and Co. proved they belonged in the national championship discussion. Alas, BSU would have had an uphill struggle to crack the top four.


1. Oregon (12-0, Pac-10 champion) vs. 4. Wisconsin (11-1, Big Ten champion)

This classic Rose Bowl style pairing would not have lacked excitement, considering the Ducks and Badgers were two of the highest scoring teams in college football. UW’s defeat of Ohio State in the regular season sealed the Badgers’ place in the Rose Bowl, as well

2. Auburn (13-0, SEC champion) vs. 3. TCU (12-0, Mountain West champion)

An intriguing match-up indeed, considering the Horned Frogs and Tigers could have had it out to determine a true, undisputed champion as things played out. The TCU defense was arguably the nation’s best, having contained a Wisconsin team averaging around 40 points per game in the Rose Bowl. Matching it up against Cam Newton would have been a sight.

First Four Out: Ohio State (11-1), Oklahoma (11-2, Big 12 champion), Boise State (11-1, WAC champion), Stanford (11-1)


The 2011 championship will be remembered as that which turned the tide in the argument for a playoff. Perhaps reformation would have come without the all-SEC title game. However, the redux to “The Game of the Century” was the lowest rated BCS championship tilt. And as we all know, money drives decisions in big time college athletics.

1. LSU (13-0, SEC champion) vs. 4. Oregon (11-2, Pac-12 champion)

OK, so a rematch was the source of much consternation and this semifinal, we have another. Stanford could have leaped UO into this match-up; bear in the mind, the Ducks handled the Cardinal en route to the Pac-12 championship.

2. Alabama (11-1) vs. 3. Oklahoma State (11-1, Big 12 champion)

Now this was the semifinal the nation was clamoring for. Alabama’s ground-and-pound offense and smashmouth defense were polar opposites to the high flying, vertical offense Oklahoma State rode to the Big 12 championship.

First Four Out: Stanford (11-1), Arkansas (10-2), Boise State (11-1), Wisconsin (11-2, Big Ten champion)