27 11 LINKEDIN 2 COMMENTMORE

The Bowl Championship Series had its flaws, but the postseason format never lost its flair for the dramatic. After 16 years of existence, the BCS went out with a bang: Florida State topped Auburn, 34-31, to secure a winning season and the 2013 national championship.

Come next fall, the Football Bowl Subdivision will trade in the BCS for the College Football Playoff. Come January 2015, a selection committee will select the nation's four best teams and settle the title on the field, with a pair of national semifinals feeding into a championship game. It's a nice step forward.

FSU: 2014 lookahead

AUBURN: 2014 lookahead

It's not too early to think about which four teams will be set meet at the Rose Bowl and the Superdome in the first semifinals of the College Football Playoff era – the Football Four. In announcing its initial members, the selection committee listed many of its criteria, including conference championships, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, comparing common opponents and injuries.

Here's USA TODAY Sports' best guess as to the final foursome come next January:

1. Florida State

2. Oregon

3. Alabama

4. Ohio State

In this 2014 projection, Florida State again ends the regular season undefeated and is picked as the top national seed by the College Football Playoff selection committee. With a healthy Marcus Mariota at quarterback, Oregon takes the Pac-12 and is picked second.

After a sour close to this past season, Alabama takes back the SEC crown from rival Auburn. A loss during the regular season keeps the Crimson Tide outside the top two, however. Rounding out the quartet is Ohio State, which takes the Big Ten.

Since we're playing with a hypothetical season, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley wins the Heisman Trophy, new Texas coach Charlie Strong goes 9-3 in his debut and Notre Dame wins 10 games.

Florida State would meet Ohio State and Oregon would face off with Alabama. The winners would then meet on Jan. 12, 2015, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Another handful of teams under consideration for one of the top four spots: Auburn, Michigan State, Stanford, Oklahoma, LSU, Baylor and Notre Dame.

PHOTOS: PROJECTING THE TOP 25 FOR 2014

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
27 11 LINKEDIN 2 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1bRKuZo