Grantland on Your Side: Adopt a College Football Playoff Team!

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The time remaining until the onset of the inaugural College Football Playoff can now be measured easily in hours, and still your heart feels less than full. This makes perfect sense: The season has already concluded for more than 120 teams, and most of the remaining postseason play will be wrapped up in the next few days.

You need to take on a new cheering interest to stave off this bleak midwinter, and you need to do it without looking like the worst person on the planet. The Grantland on Your Side squad is here for you. We tried this exercise once before, in the preseason, with surprisingly satisfying results. All that’s needed is to put your tender hearts and innards in our hands: You tell us who you are; we give you what you want. Let’s go to the request line:


[FILE NOT FOUND] Right, so: Choosing a playoff team to back this year is a strange proposition because nowhere among Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Ohio State will you find an indie darling whose bandwagon you can board and feel like you’re bucking any sort of trend. All four of these programs are empires of varying degrees and characters. They’re all privileged teams with strong histories; even the newer money among them runneth over with laurels, and it’s nobody’s first time in a big-money bowl game.

But there’s a kind of comfort in this, isn’t there? There’s no pressure to pick the little guy for how you think that might make you look, because there are no neophytes here. There are barely underdogs, and neither of the teams technically carrying that label is so far behind its semifinal opponent that it even deserves to have the term applied.

Choose — freely — the form of the destructor. It’s quite liberating.

You, sir, we can help. Bama.

[SFX: SIREN] Swerve alert! This is where an Oregon pick would seem like the logical choice; freshman running back Royce Freeman is an utter delight, and when the Ducks are all upright, their war machine is a cerebral joy to behold. HOWEVER! In the interest of adhering to the pure entertainment value of this request, Ohio State might be the pick for you. The Buckeyes have got another hotshot underclassman to watch at tailback in sophomore Ezekiel Elliott, and lest we forget because of the team’s near-bliplessness of the transitions from QB1 to QB2 to QB3 since the preseason, this will be Cardale Jones’s second collegiate start at quarterback. He’s demonstrably quite talented, but also the least known quantity of his playoff peers at the position.

Florida State. There’s bandwagoning, and then there’s hitching your heart-horses to a team with a 29-game winning streak.

Caller, we’re going to send you to Florida State as well; “hilarious” things happening to a given football team tend to be unexpected, and when we think “unexpected on the football field,” we either think “loose woodland critter in the area of play” or “mass hysteria,” and not much would induce mass hysteria more than said winning streak snapping at the site of FSU’s most recent national title victory.

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We’ll do you one better, gentle listener: Now that Tampa Bay has claimed the no. 1 draft pick, keep your eyes fixed on Oregon and maybe get a look at your actual future quarterback, Marcus Mariota.

Florida State. The winningness, obvs, is not in dispute, and FSU’s consensus All-America kicker, Roberto Aguayo, is basically the Peyton Manning of special teams, in terms of being a guy who’s clearly willed himself into excellence through sheer dogged cantankerousness about his craft.

Caller, you are out of luck here; the puntingest team of this bunch is Alabama, and the Tide are averaging a paltry 3.7 punts per game. That’s good for 115th in the FBS; the Seminoles rank 119th and the Buckeyes and Ducks are tied for 125th. This is not your year. The Tide do rank second nationally in yardage per punt, with JK Scott averaging 47.0 yards per attempt.

Via process of elimination … the Tide are of course out as division rivals; an Ohio State victory would place you squarely in the middle of a time-consuming conference supremacy argument; Florida State occupies a nearby corner of the country that may place you in contact with more of its fans than you might prefer. It’s Oregon, then, by virtue of pure geography. The nearly 2,500 miles between Death Valley and the crucible of Autzen should be enough to muffle the sound. Probably.

This is where we’d normally steer any carbon-based life form toward LSU, because LSU, but as that’s not an available choice, may we recommend the nearby and nearly as surly embrace of Alabama? If you like classic comedy, you’ll love the sideline father-and-unruly-stepson antics of Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin. That’s enough drama and affection in a single game to fill any allotted sitcom time slot.

Ohio State.

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Filed Under: College Football Playoff, College Football, 2014 College Football Playoff, College Football Playoff Semifinals, Adopt A Team Guide, Grantland on Your Side, Alabama Crimson Tide, Bear Bryant, Oregon Ducks, Marcus Mariota, Florida State Seminoles, Ohio State Buckeyes, Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Mascots, Football, NCAA, NCAAF, Holly Anderson

Holly Anderson is a staff writer at Grantland.

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