A FIGHT TO THE FINISH

Running back Theo Riddick of Notre Dame has helped lead the Fighting Irish to an undefeated regular season.

By Greg Echlin

Until those who dictate the direction of college football—a mix of presidents, conference leaders and athletic directors—agreed last summer to implement a four-team playoff starting with the 2014 season, there had been a legion of fans and experts who felt that college football’s top level had yet to hit pay dirt. The system, known as the Bowl Championship Series, whose participating teams are determined by a complex mix of polls, seemed stalled inside the 20-yard line, to use a football phrase. With the exception of the 11 conferences that can send teams to the BCS, every other level of college football—and every other collegiate sport for that matter—settles a national title by means of a playoff in one form or another.

Now, with the foundation set for what will begin a new era in college football, a handful of cities around the country are positioning themselves to be part of the action by bidding for future playoff games. In addition, the 35 bowls that make up the postseason for college football—most of which will not be directly involved in the playoff structure—find themselves on solid footing but nevertheless having to wait to see how the new landscape will affect their events moving forward.

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