Disclaimer: I'm not saying that a 16 team playoff is necessarily the right way to go or even feasible. There would be numerous challenges to such a system, not least being that it would conflict with/tarnish the relevance of both Conference Championships and the regular Bowl Game season.
That said, it's hard to deny that were such a thing to happen it wouldn't give us some great football games. I've prepared a mockup of how such a tournament could have worked were it implemented at the end of last season. Remember, this is more of a thought experiment than anything else.
The essential structure is based on higher seed teams getting byes to further rounds. There are three rounds in total before we get to the semifinal games. Teams seeded 5-8 by the playoff rankings get byes to the 2nd round while teams 1-4 get byes to the 3rd round. I also think it would be a nice idea to give higher seeded teams homefield advantage much like how the NFL playoffs do it, that is until the 3rd round and beyond, when all games are played on neutral fields.
Below I've included a visual of how the first three rounds would shake out.
Based on what we saw, I think predicting how the first round turns out isn't too difficult. USC crushes West Virginia and pencils itself in for a date with Wisconsin in Round 2 (what a game that would have been). Colorado vs Western Michigan is the hardest match to call, but I'm going to say that Western Michigan squeaks out a win to get themselves a game with Penn State. Florida State trounces Auburn and Oklahoma State beats Louisville in a shootout, which means FSU plays Oklahoma and Oklahoma State draws Michigan.
In Round 2, USC beats Wisconsin in OT with a brilliant hailmary play worthy of Aaron Rodgers, Michigan beats Oklahoma State, FSU pulls away late from Oklahoma after three tough quarters, and Penn State comfortably handles Western Michigan.
Round 3 now pits Alabama vs FSU in a preview of their 2017 season opener, Clemson against USC (what a fucking game that would have been), (now drumroll) Ohio State vs Michigan in a rematch, and Washington against Penn State.
Alabama beats FSU, Clemson wins on a 2-point conversion against USC, Ohio State beats Michigan (again), and Penn State tops Washington. So the semifinal is more or less the same as in real life except Penn State plays Bama instead of Washington. Sadly Ohio State probably loses to Clemson just like in real life, but maybe the recent experience of playing a game rather than sitting fallow for a month gathering dust makes them a little more competitive, so rather than getting shut out Ohio State loses by two scores.
So, what do you all think? If it were possible, would you like to see something like this?