Congratulations to the Clemson Tigers, winner of this year's NCAA college football National Championship game. Still, only four teams were involved and that's not enough...
Or is it? I have to admit, I only went through this silly exercise again in order to complain about how under-represented the "obviously superior" Big Ten was in the playoffs, and then the Big Ten went and shit the bed. Plus, Washington and Ohio State made it look like we don't need a playoff at all. So, whatever.
Then again, who knows what would have happened if we would have had a real, 16-team playoff. Because, no matter what happened and no matter what we tell ourselves, we didn't.
This is what a real playoff would have looked like...
Rose Bowl Bracket
1st seed Washington (12-1, Pac-12) vs. 4th seed West Virginia (10-2, Big 12) -- winner: Washington by default
2nd seed Michigan (10-2, Big Ten) vs. 3rd seed Florida State (9-3, ACC) -- winner: Florida State actually won this match-up
Rose Bowl: Florida State over Washington
Cotton Bowl Bracket
1st seed Ohio State (11-1, Big Ten) vs. 4th seed Louisville (9-3, ACC) -- winner: Louisville, just because Ohio State stunk worse
2nd seed Oklahoma (10-2, Big 12) vs. 3rd seed Western Michigan (13-0, MAC) -- winner: Oklahoma
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma over Louisville
Sugar Bowl Bracket
1st seed Alabama (13-0, SEC) vs. 4th seed Oklahoma State (9-3, Big 12) -- winner: Alabama
2nd seed USC (9-3, Pac-12) vs. 3rd seed Wisconsin (10-3, Big Ten) -- winner: USC
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over USC
Orange Bowl Bracket
1st seed Clemson (12-1, ACC) vs. 4th seed Auburn (8-4, SEC) -- winner: Clemson was the most impressive team in the post-season
2nd seed Penn State (11-2, Big Ten) vs. 3rd seed Colorado (10-3, Big 12) -- winner: Penn State
Orange Bowl: Clemson over Penn State
Fiesta Bowl Semifinal
Florida State over Oklahoma
Peach Bowl Semifinal
Clemson over Alabama
Clemson over Florida State
BONUS: The "N.I.T." of College Football
As is also my custom, I have also set up a second-tier 16-team tournament. I've included all of the conferences champions without a spot in the main tournament, as well as the next-best available teams.
1st seed Florida (8-4, SEC) vs. 4th seed Appalachian State (9-3, Sun Belt) -- winner: Florida
2nd seed Temple (10-3, AA) vs. 3rd seed Pittsburgh (8-4, ACC) -- winner: Pittsburgh
East Bracket Winner: Florida over Pittsburgh
1st seed LSU (7-4, SEC) vs. 4th seed Iowa (8-4, Big Ten) -- winner: LSU
2nd seed South Florida (10-2, AA) vs. 3rd seed Western Kentucky (10-3, C-USA) -- winner: South Florida
Southeast Bracket Winner: LSU over South Florida
1st seed Virginia Tech (9-4, ACC) vs. 4th seed Utah (8-4, Big-12) -- winner: Virginia Tech
2nd seed Houston (9-3, Big 12) vs. 3rd seed Nebraska (9-3, Big Ten) -- winner: Houston
Midwest Bracket Winner: Virginia Tech over Houston
1st seed Stanford (9-3, Pac-12) vs. 4th seed Navy (9-3, AA) -- winner: Stanford
2nd seed Boise State (10-2, MW) vs. 3rd seed Washington State (8-4, Big-12) -- winner: Washington State
West Bracket Winner: Stanford over Washington State
Florida over LSU
Stanford over Virginia Tech
Florida over Stanford
Monday, January 2, 2017
1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
When: May 5, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: Vol. 1 of this series was a breakout film for Marvel Studios, and a standout in their catalog. I'm really looking forward to seeing what's in store next for this band of lovable losers.
2. Star Wars: Episode VIII
When: December 15, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: The Force Awakens redeemed the Star Wars universe after George Lucas ran it into the ground with the prequels, and this year's Rogue One was an amazing side story. I expect this year's installment to continue the momentum. This just barely misses the top spot on my list.
3. Thor: Ragnarok
When: November 3, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: Thor has in some ways been the weakest link in the Avengers line-up for Marvel Studios, but this year's trilogy-ender looks to correct that. Not only will the God of Thunder go up against his toughest opponents yet, but he will have the Hulk beside him. Oh, and Loki will be back. This will be a fun ride.
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
When: July 7, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: Spider-Man was only in Captain America: Civil War for, like, 5 minutes, and already this is the best version of him ever put to screen. I can't wait to see an entire film of Tom Holland capturing the real Spider-Man -- something we have never seen. Full disclosure: I desperately wanted to be Spider-Man from age 5 to age 15. (OK, that last number is a lie; I still want to be Spider-Man.)
5. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
When: June 16, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: If you've seen the first Kingsman movie, you know why. If not, go see it. This is a witty, fast-paced spy-vs.-spy action/adventure series. If they can match even a portion of the first film's energy, this will be worth the price of admission.
6. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
When: July 21, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: Luc Besson, who directed The Fifth Element among other films, is adapting this from a French comic book (see the image above) that is wall-to-wall awesome. I have high hopes.
7. Wonder Woman
When: June 2, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: Because the first trailer looked solid. I hope that the final film can deliver, because Wonder Woman is long overdue to join the pantheon of superhero film gods.
8. Kong: Skull Island
When: March 10, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: Until I saw the trailer for this film, I was not sold on it at all. Then I saw something that looked like Apocalypse Now with a giant freaking gorilla. Back on board.
9. John Wick: Chapter Two
When: February 10, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: I saw the first John Wick by accident, as I'm sure most people did. And it was amazing. I'm ready to watch this guy dismantle more people.
10. Justice League
When: November 17, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: OK, DC has given me no reason to hope. Still, Ben Affleck is a great Batman and I am holding out hope that Warner Bros. can right the ship.
When: March 3, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: The first Wolverine movie was awful. The second one was pretty good. This one has a good trailer and is based (very loosely) on a good story arc. Will it send High Jackman off in style? I certainly hope so.
12. War for the Planet of the Apes
When: July 14, 2017. Why I'm looking forward to it: Because the first two films in this reboot Apes series were great for completely different reasons, and the human-vs.-ape dynamic they've established is an interesting one. I hope we get another film that is nothing like its predecessors and yet continues to move this universe forward.