The 2014 college football season provided us its inaugural playoff and an unlikely champion. It was new, and while everybody tried to take a shot at how the playoff would work, few predicted the final outcome.
Now as we enter Year 2 of the College Football Playoff, there is less guesswork on how it all should materialize. But you still might be confused by all the changes that are taking place just from last year.
Fear not, that’s where we come in. These are the burning questions you have about the playoff and we have the answers.
1. Plan on a New Year’s Eve party
Unlike last year, when the semifinal games were held at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, this year’s semis will be held on New Year’s Eve at the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl. In fact, in 2016 the semis will again be on New Year’s Eve when they’re being hosted by the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl.
2. What about the rest of the “New Year’s Six” bowls?
For this season, the Peach Bowl will be played on New Year’s Eve before the two semifinal games. The Fiesta Bowl will be played on New Year’s Day before the traditional time slots for the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.
3. Don’t forget the automatic matchups
Last year there were just one tie-in for the New Year’s Six bowls – the ACC to the Orange. This year, two bowls are essentially already spoken for: The Rose Bowl will have a traditional Big Ten-Pac 12 matchup while the Sugar Bowl will begin its new SEC-Big 12 arrangement. That means the ACC could easily be left with just one entry to the NY6 bowls if it fails to land a team in the playoff.
4. Who else can get in the playoff and NY6 bowls?
The highest ranked champion from the non-power 5 “Group of 5” conferences – Mountain West, American, Conference USA, MAC and Sun Belt – is guaranteed a spot in an NY6 bowl. This year, that spot will be in either the Fiesta Bowl or Peach Bowl. Notre Dame and BYU, two independents with sights set on the NY6 bowls or perhaps even the playoff, are guaranteed nothing and must make it on merit based on the committee’s rankings.
5. Speaking of the committee …
It still has 13 members, with Arkansas AD Jeff Long as the chairman, but there are two changes: Archie Manning, who never participated last year because of health reasons, is replaced by former Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson; and Oliver Luck, who left West Virginia to join the NCAA, is replaced by Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt, presumably as the token Texan to keep Art Briles happy.
6. And are we still going to have the weekly rankings show?
Yep, even though if we learned anything last year, the Tuesday night unveilings were just a dog-and-pony show that meant absolutely nothing. This year the presentations featuring Jeff Long will start on Nov. 3 until the final one (the only one that counts) on Sunday, Dec. 6. If you’re wise, don’t bother wasting your time to check on the weekly rankings, as they’re as meaningless as the weekly AP and Coaches polls with respect to the playoff.
7. So what are the preseason projections on the playoff and NY6 bowl participants?
That, you’ll have to check back in next week, right before the season officially starts on Sept. 3.