What the first playoff would look like in '14 using 2012 season

Can't wait for the playoff in 2014? Neither can I. That's why I put together this mock playoff bracket based on the 2012 season.

The selection committee -- as yet unnamed -- is going to have some tough decisions. The way I have it right now, the SEC has three teams in the semifinals and five overall. I'm remembering why Mike Slive argued so vehemently during playoff talks for the four best teams instead of conference champs only.

Georgia (No. 7 in the 2012 BCS standings) gets the nod as the No. 4 seed over Pac-12 champ Stanford (No. 6 in the BCS) and Oregon (No. 4). Despite losing twice in the regular season, the Dawgs won the division, beat Florida (also in the playoff) and lost by only four to Alabama in the SEC championship game.

It's also a tough call for the No. 3 seed. The Gators barely nosed out Oregon and Stanford, in part because they were rated higher in the human polls and the computers. Yes, yes, I know those are BCS measures. But they're as good as we have right now since we don't know what metrics the selection committee is going to use.

Basically, we're talking about a four-team axis of Stanford, Florida, Georgia and Oregon for two national semifinal spots. Rank them 1-4 and -- according to me -- the Gators and Dawgs finish in the top two. That means a conference champion (Stanford) gets left out and the overall strength of the SEC wins the day. Florida's only loss was on a neutral field to SEC East winner Georgia. Oregon's only loss was at home to conference champ Stanford.

Crimson Tide, Dawgs and Gators get in making it somewhat of an SEC Invitational for the first College Football Playoff. None of that should be news considering seven consecutive titles for the Strength Everywhere Conference.

Those are my choices. Can't wait until the selection committee has to deal with this stuff for real.

National semifinals in 2014 based on 2012 season:

Rose: No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Georgia

Rationale: Despite its flaws, Notre Dame would get the No. 1 seed being the only undefeated team.

If you believe that the SEC West is the toughest “conference” around, then the SEC East is No. 2. And Georgia won it. The Dawgs also came within five yards of beating Alabama. Georgia's only other loss was that four-touchdown number on Oct. 6 at South Carolina. Given that the Cocks are one of the first teams out of the six-bowl College Football Playoff, that's not such a bad loss.

Sugar: No. 2 Alabama* vs. No. 3 Florida

Rationale: In the South, this would be a championship in itself. Two of the biggest fan bases in the SEC clash in New Orleans. Nick Saban is 3-1 against the Gators since coming to Bama. Florida would have gotten here with an offense ranked 103rd. Can you say defensive battle?

And, yes, I've already noticed that only one conference champion (Alabama) would be playing for a national championship. That's a reflection of the confusion created by conference championship games and that, well, the SEC is real good.

Winners would play at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas for the national championship.

Four other College Football Playoff bowls not in semifinals:

Cotton: Kansas State* vs. Texas A&M

Two-thirds of the Heisman finalists, including the winner. Collin Klein vs. Johnny Football.

Orange: Florida State* vs. LSU

Seminoles get rewarded staying close to home by winning the ACC. LSU's only two losses (Florida, Alabama) were to two teams in the semis.

Chick-fil-A: Oregon vs. Northern Illinois

This is where a sellout in the Georgia Dome becomes somewhat of a challenge. Northern Illinois gets the automatic Group of Five spot and have to land somewhere. Oregon has to travel cross-country this time for its latest track meet.

Fiesta: Wisconsin* vs. Stanford*

Natural site for what would have been the Rose Bowl matchup. Don't worry about Wisconsin traveling to Phoenix. The area has more Big Ten fans than it has scorpions.

*-conference champion

Note: Ohio State was not considered because it was ineligible for a bowl in 2012.

 
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