During the first week of the college football season, LSU and Florida State competed in one of the most exciting games in modern history. With less than a minute remaining, LSU drove 99 yards down the field, scoring a touchdown, cutting the lead to one point. As their fans celebrated with overtime looming, Florida State blocked the extra-point and squeaked out a one-point victory.
The excitement and unpredictability of college football recently skyrocketed to high levels with the expansion of the College Football Playoff. After growing to four teams in 2015, the format has faced scrutiny for not allowing enough deserving teams to play for a championship.
As the 2021 season wound down, only six or seven teams had a real shot at making the playoff. At the end of the season, four teams cemented themselves as playoff contenders, which provided zero controversies or arguments. A twelve-team format allows for more critical and exciting games toward the end of the season.
The increase in meaningful games across the season increases student interest. However, one of the most considerable drawbacks in postseason college football is the neutral site games, which make it hard for students to attend. The new playoff format allows for on-campus games for the first round, which will enable huge profits for the schools with students and alums traveling on-campus to attend the big games. Tailgating, pre-game gatherings, and post-game celebrations will increase revenue among schools across the country.Embed from Getty Images
Conference stability has also become a recent issue among smaller market schools that have trouble competing with the college football kings. Allowing more teams to fight for a championship means greater exposure for the recently weakened conferences, like the PAC-12 and Big 12. With UCLA and USC leaving for the Big Ten, and Oklahoma and Texas leaving for the SEC, new competitors may replace those teams in their respective conferences. Previously, we often saw the SEC and Big Ten dominating the College Football Playoff, but this expanded version will allow for more conference representation.
On the other hand, the players may have trouble keeping their endurance throughout an extended season. Usually, NFL teams play between 18-21 games, while college football teams play around 13 or 14. A college football championship team may now play upwards of 17 games, depending on their schedule. That resembles a full NFL schedule and could negatively affect the health of future professional stars.
The weather could also factor into the first round of the playoff. If Wisconsin has to play its first-round game on-campus, weather conditions could affect the game’s outcome. Wisconsin in December is not ideal for sports, with the snow and brutally cold temperatures battering the state. Since most successful college football teams come from down south, it poses the question of how the weather will affect their performance.Embed from Getty Images
Usually, the weather does not impact the postseason, as southern locations host the bowl games. Smaller bowl games, played earlier in December, do not receive much viewership because some casual fans view them as meaningless. Since the College Football Playoff will host more meaningful games, the NCAA could eliminate some bowl games to increase viewership for the playoffs. As a result, this could affect the success of the smaller market colleges that play their entire seasons to win bowls.
The thrill of regular season college football games goes unmatched in sports. A rise in the significant regular season and playoff games will continue to attract new viewers around the country. The LSU-Florida State game only scratches the surface of the exhilaration of college football and its drama. Once the playoff begins in 2026, nothing will match the brilliance of playoff football in the United States.