WhatIfSports 2016 College Football Playoff Prediction

Can it just be Thursday already?

The Longhorns bested two top-15 programs - Oklahoma and Baylor - last season, and get Baylor and TCU, two of its toughest games, at home, where the Longhorns are 77-21 (.786 winning percentage) over the last 15 years.

Tempted to toss the loser of the Florida State-Ole Miss game out of the College Football Playoff?

Then, what many are calling the greatest opening Saturday ever kicks off the season off in earnest as Alabama plays Southern Cal in Arlington, Texas; LSU plays Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, Clemson visits Auburn, Texas A&M hosts UCLA, North Carolina plays Georgia in Atlanta and Boston College squares off with Georgia Tech in Dublin, Ireland. As close as their matchups were past year, they should be just as tight this season. Everyone is itching to find out.

#4- Florida State- The Seminoles have been able to recruit very well during the Jimbo Fisher era and were one game away from being in the playoff past year. The Hokies, especially on defense, will give them an early test.

No. 4 Florida State vs. In 2012, he picked UCF, and the team turned a five-win 2011 campaign into a 10-win one.

Dorian Johnson, OG, Pitt: The Pennsylvania native has been the model of consistency since arriving at Pitt. Despite a poor run at bowl games in recent years, the mid-major Fresno State has been a dynamo of a program since the late seventies, as the central California school regularly churns out National Football League talent. At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Johnson is expected to open big holes for James Conner and company. I, the viewer, salute this money-grubbing, though perhaps more should go to the players. No. 20 USC and No. 3 Oklahoma vs. This is the flawless introduction, between the grand stage of the Georgia Dome and the not-to-be-taken-for-granted Tar Heels. A win would be huge for Larry Fedora's squad's confidence as they look to repeat as Coastal Division champs.

We simulated a matchup between Alabama and Florida State 1,001 times to determine the favored team. This could go anywhere from tweaking the committee guidance to more heavily favor conference championships to possibly setting a date to expand the bracket. If a team plays a good schedule from top to bottom and wins them all, they'll be there.

There are four games between ranked teams this weekend compared with six of those combined in the least three opening weekends - just one last season. A four-team playoff leaves out one power 5 school, even expansion to eight teams allows for all power conferences to have representation along with several wild cards. Imagine if FSU, UNC and Clemson all won over SEC teams in Week 1? Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that the Buckeyes are among the top contenders to claim the 2016 national title. Justin Fuente sure hopes so. Each game is interesting in its own way. Fuente's tenure in Blacksburg could get started with a bang if the Hokies win. The schedule is hard, yes, but Texas plays just one ranked opponent on the road (the Red River Shootout is played at a neutral location every year). Depending on where the Cardinals are in the ACC standings and how Houston did against Oklahoma and the rest of the American Athletic Conference, this could be a game that has playoff implications.

The advent of the College Football Playoff has brought greater emphasis to strength of schedule and has rewarded teams that have been willing to accept challenging games outside of their conferences. The former East Mississippi Community College quarterback leads one of the best passing attacks in all of football. Is it something we should think about though?

Synopsis: On paper, it looks like a transition season for the Crimson Tide, but in reality, Alabama always has standout players ready to step in, so it's going to be another good showing.