Which College Football Conference's All-Star Team Would Win in a Playoff?
The College Football Playoff era is now upon us, as the final second ticked off the BCS clock in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 6 and ushered out the former postseason in favor of a four-team playoff in the top division of college football.
But what if we took it a step further?
What if the nation's all-conference teams as selected by the coaches from last season's six automatic qualifying conferences were put into next season's four-team playoff and squared off for conference supremacy?
Let's take a look at what might happen in our hypothetical all-conference team playoff.
Coaches All-AAC Team
Offense (courtesy: American Athletic Conference)
QB: Blake Bortles, UCF
RB: Storm Johnson, UCF and Paul James, Rutgers
WR: Deontay Greenberry, Houston and DeVante Parker, Louisville
TE: Blake Annen, Cincinnati and Tyler Kroft, Rutgers
OL: Eric Lefeld, Cincinnati; Jamon Brown, Louisville; Jordan McCray, UCF; Justin McCray, UCF; Jake Smith, Louisville
K: Jake Elliott, Memphis
Return Specialists: Ralph David Abernathy IV, Cincinnati and Demarcus Ayers, Houston
DL: Jordan Stepp, Cincinnati; Marcus Smith, Louisville; Martin Ifedi, Memphis; Aaron Lynch, USF
LB: Terrance Plummer, UCF; Yawin Smallwood, UConn; Tyler Matakevich, Temple
CB: Jacoby Glenn, UCF and Charles Gaines, Louisville
S: Calvin Pryor, Louisville and Hakeem Smith, Louisville
P Tom Hornsey, Memphis
Coaches All-ACC Team
Offense (courtesy: Atlantic Coast Conference)
QB: Jameis Winston, FSU
RB: Andre Williams, Boston College and Devonta Freeman, FSU
WR: Sammy Watkins, Clemson; Rashad Greene, FSU; Jamison Crowder, Duke
TE: Eric Ebron, UNC
OL: Cameron Erving, FSU; Brandon Thomas, Clemson; Laken Tomlinson, Duke; Tre' Jackson, FSU; Bryan Stork, FSU
PK: Roberto Aguayo, FSU
Specialist: Jamison Crowder, Duke
DL: Vic Beasley, Clemson; Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech; Aaron Donald, Pitt; Timmy Jernigan, FSU
LB: Telvin Smith, FSU; Denzel Perryman, Miami; Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College
CB: Lamarcus Joyner, FSU and Kyle Fuller, Va. Tech
S: Terrence Brooks, FSU and Anthony Harris, Virginia
P: Pat O'Donnell, Miami (Fla.)
Coaches All-Big 12 Team
Offense (courtesy: Big 12 Conference)
QB: Bryce Petty, Baylor
RB: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor and Charles Sims, WVU
FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma
WR: Antwan Goodley, Baylor; Tevin Reese, Baylor; Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
TE: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
OL: Spencer Drango, Baylor; Cyril Richardson, Baylor; B.J. Finney, Kansas State; Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma; Parker Graham, Oklahoma State
PK: Anthony Fera, Texas
Specialist: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
DL: Chris McAllister, Baylor; Ryan Mueller, Kansas State; Charles Tapper, Oklahoma; Calvin Barnett, Oklahoma State; Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
LB: Eddie Lackey, Baylor; Jeremiah George, Iowa State; Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State
DB: Ahmad Dixon, Baylor; Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State; Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma; Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State; Jason Verrett, TCU
P: Spencer Roth, Baylor
Coaches All-Big Ten Team
Offense (courtesy: Big Ten Conference)
QB: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
RB: Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska and Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
WR: Allen Robinson, Penn State and Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
TE: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
OL: Corey Linsley, Ohio State; John Urschel, Pen State; Ryan Groy, Wisconsin; Brandon Scherff, Iowa; Taylor Lewan, Michigan
PK: Jeff Budzien, Northwestern
DL: Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State; Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota; Randy Gregory, Nebraska; DaQuan Jones, Penn State
LB: Max Bullough, Michigan State; Ryan Shazier, Ohio State; Chris Borland, Wisconsin
DB: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State; Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State; Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State; Brock Vereen, Minnesota; Ciante Evans, Nebraska; Bradley Roby, Ohio State
P: Mike Sadler, Michigan State and Cody Webster, Purdue
Coaches All Pac-12 Team
Offense (courtesy: Pac-12 Conference)
QB: Marcus Mariota, Oregon
RB: Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona and Bishop Sankey, Washington
WR: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State and Paul Richardson, Colorado
TE: Chris Coyle, Arizona State
OL: Evan Finkenberg, Arizona State; Hroniss Grasu, Oregon; Marcus Martin, USC; Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA; David Yankey, Stanford
PK: Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State
Specialist: Ty Montgomery, Stanford
DL: Ben Gardner, Stanford; Trevor Reilly, Utah; Will Sutton, Arizona State; Leonard Williams; USC
LB: Anthony Barr, UCLA; Trent Murphy, Stanford; Shayne Skov, Stanford
DB: Deone Bucannon, Washington State; Alden Darby, Arizona State; Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon; Robert Nelson, Arizona State; Ed Reynolds, Stanford
P: Tom Hackett, Utah
ST: Soma Vainuku, USC
Coaches All-SEC Team
Offense (courtesy: The Southeastern Conference)
QB: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
RB: Tre Mason, Auburn and T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
WR: Mike Evans, Texas A&M and Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
TE: Arthur Lynch, Georgia
OL: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M; Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama; Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State; Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt; Reese Dismukes, Auburn
PK: Marshall Morgan, Georgia
All-Purpose: Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU
Return Specialists: Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU and Christion Jones, Alabama
DL: Michael Sam, Missouri; Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina; Dee Ford, Auburn; Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
LB: C.J. Mosley, Alabama; Ramik Wilson, Georgia; A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
DB: Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss; Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama; E.J. Gaines, Missouri; Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
P: Drew Kaser, Texas A&M
With six AQ conferences and only four playoff spots, something's gotta give.
We'll go ahead and eliminate the American Athletic Conference. I know, I know, UCF looked great in the Fiesta Bowl over Baylor, but there's no way the all-AAC defense would be able to slow down any of the other five offenses. Louisville's defense was great, but the talent simply isn't there for the AAC to hang with the big boys—which is part of the reason why it won't have an automatic bid to the new CFP.
That leaves the power five conferences left, with only four spots in the playoff.
Even though the SEC lost its two BCS games and is missing out on style points, the selection committee of one—me—still thinks that the defense is the best in the country and with an offense led by Johnny Manziel and running backs Tre Mason and T.J. Yeldon, the team is too much to stop. SEC gets the No. 1 seed.
In the second spot is the Pac-12. With an athletic defense and a versatile offense led by Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, that Pac-12 team is stout.
The ACC chimes in at the No. 3 spot, thanks to Heisman winner Jameis Winston at quarterback and a stifling defense. It got style points late when Florida State hoisted the crystal football, and it hopes to carry that momentum into our hypothetical all-conference team tournament.
Our last team in is the All-Big Ten team. The offense is effective with Braxton Miller at the helm and a talented offensive line, and the defense—whew—is just scary. Six of those defenders are Michigan State defenders, which should tell you all you need to know about that Spartan defense in 2013.
That leaves the Big 12 out. Sure, Oklahoma looked great against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, but conference champ Baylor cost the conference style points in the Fiesta Bowl and I'm not sure that defense could stop any of these offenses.
Sugar Bowl: SEC (1) vs. Big Ten (4)
Rose Bowl: Pac-12 (2) vs. ACC (3)
Sugar Bowl: SEC (1) vs. Big Ten (4)
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney didn't exactly have a great season, but how awesome would a Clowney vs. Taylor Lewan rematch be with a side of Dee Ford and Michael Sam thrown in along the SEC's defensive line?
On top of that, those athletic defensive linemen would be chasing after Ohio State's Braxton Miller and a running back corps that includes Carlos Hyde and Ameer Abdullah.
That SEC linebacking corps (C.J. Mosley, Ramik Wilson and A.J. Johnson) is fast, athletic and has a nose for the football, and would be able to neutralize that dynamic Big Ten offense.
I don't just like the Big Ten's defense, I love it. But can it stop Johnny Manziel? Not enough to spring the upset.
SEC moves on to the title game in a close win over the Big Ten thanks to a late Manziel to Mike Evans touchdown over Darqueze Dennard.
Hypothetical final score: SEC 31 - Big Ten 28
Rose Bowl: Pac-12 (2) vs. ACC (3)
Can you say shootout?
That ACC defense is sick, but Marcus Mariota and the All Pac-12 team is loaded with playmakers who can create mismatches against an ACC defense that has seen it all.
On the flip side, Jameis Winston is back in the friendly confines of the Rose Bowl, where he won the national championship with a last-minute touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin. Can he win on the west coast again?
Yes, he can.
The ACC offensive line is filthy, and will give Winston plenty of time to find a receiving corps that includes Sammy Watkins, Rashad Greene and Jamison Crowder.
It'll be point-a-minute football in the Rose Bowl, but Vic Beasley, Jeremiah Attachou, Aaron Donald and Timmy Jernigan will wear down that Pac-12 offensive line and force Mariota into two fourth-quarter mistakes that allow the ACC to pull away late and spring the mild upset.
Hypothetical final score: ACC 52 - Pac-12 48
CFP National Championship Game (Arlington, Texas): SEC (1) vs. ACC (3)
The ACC got the best of the SEC in the final BCS National Championship Game of the BCS era when Florida State topped Auburn 34-31, but the SEC has the chance to get revenge in our hypothetical all-conference playoff.
Auburn rattled Winston in the real title game, and with three Seminoles on the all-ACC offensive line, the SEC's superstar defensive line (Sam, Clowney, Ford and Quarles) will have a field day with Winston.
On top of that, an SEC secondary consisting of Cody Prewitt, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, E.J. Gaines and Vernon Hargreaves will lock down those talented ACC receivers and take advantage of pressure generated on Winston from the front seven.
Watching ACC and FSU linebacker Telvin Smith try to keep quarterback Johnny Manziel in check will be a lot of fun, but the running ability of Manziel and running backs Tre Mason and T.J. Yeldon will be too much for this ACC defense to overcome.
Toss in first-team "all-purpose" SEC performer Odell Beckham, Jr. as a slot-receiver or an option on jet sweeps, and the SEC will run roughshod over the ACC.
Hypothetical final score: SEC 38 - ACC 24