With the 12-team College Football Playoff coming next season, The Athletic is using this season’s latest CFP selection committee rankings to illustrate how the new format will work.
Here’s how the bracket would be seeded and the site locations determined using the committee’s Nov. 14 rankings and the CFP’s previously announced 2024-25 game dates. Note: The Orange and Cotton bowls are scheduled to host the two semifinals, and the national championship game will be in Atlanta
Top 4 seeds (first-round byes)
1. Georgia (SEC champion)
2. Ohio State (Big Ten champion)
3. Florida State (ACC champion)
4. Washington (Pac-12 champion)
In the new format, the top four seeds will be reserved for the four highest-ranked conference champions. For our purposes, we’re designating each conference’s top-ranked team as its champion. That means No. 1 Georgia (SEC No. 1), No. 2 Ohio State (Big Ten), No. 4 Florida State (ACC) and No. 5 Washington (Pac-12) would get a bye into the quarterfinals.
Obviously, Washington will not be in the Pac-12 next year, but it would be far too complicated to throw conference realignment into this hypothetical exercise.
Nos. 5-12 seeds
5. Michigan (at-large)
6. Oregon (at-large)
7. Texas (Big 12 champion)
8. Alabama (at-large)
9. Missouri (at-large)
10. Louisville (at-large)
11. Oregon State (at-large)
12. Tulane (AAC champion)
For now, I am still using the original plan to pick the six highest-ranked conference champions along with the six highest-ranked at-large teams. The commissioners last week recommended changing it to five champions/seven at-large teams, given that the Pac-12 will no longer be viewed as power conference. But, this season, the Pac-12 still exists.
Were the season to end today, the fifth- and sixth-highest-ranked conference champions would be No. 7 Texas (Big 12) and No. 24 Tulane (AAC). Joining them in the field would be the six highest-ranked remaining teams: No. 3 Michigan, No. 6 Oregon, No. 8 Alabama, No. 9 Missouri, No. 10 Louisville and No. 11 Oregon State.
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The CFP schedule
All times Eastern.
Friday, Dec. 19
- No. 12 Tulane at No. 5 Michigan, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 20
- No. 10 Louisville at No. 7 Texas, noon
- No. 11 Oregon State at No. 6 Oregon, 4 p.m.
- No. 9 Missouri at No. 8 Alabama, 8 p.m.
The four first-round games will be played on the campuses of the No. 5-8 seeds over the third weekend in December. Which games get placed in which slots would likely be determined by TV. When in doubt, place Alabama in prime time.
Tuesday, Dec. 31
- Fiesta Bowl: No. 4 Washington vs. Michigan-Tulane winner, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan 1
- Peach Bowl: No. 3 Florida State vs. Oregon-Oregon State winner, 1 p.m.
- Rose Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State vs. Texas-Louisville winner, 5 p.m.
- Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Georgia vs. Alabama-Missouri winner, 8:45 p.m.
The CFP has already announced the dates and sites for the four quarterfinal bowl games. It has also stated that the top four teams will be assigned to their sites in order, and “in consideration of current contract bowl relationships if those bowls are selected for the rotation” — i.e. Big Ten champion Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, SEC champion Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Thursday, Jan. 9
- Orange Bowl: No. 1 Georgia/No. 8 Alabama/No. 9 Missouri vs. No. 4 Washington/No. 5 Michigan/No. 12 Tulane
Friday, Jan. 10
- Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State/No. 7 Texas/No. 10 Louisville vs. No. 3 Florida State/No. 6 Oregon/No. 11 Oregon State, 7:30 p.m.
The semifinals will be played on a Thursday and Friday night at least a week after the quarterfinals to avoid going head-to-head with the NFL’s Wild Card weekend. In the CFP board’s announcement, it said “the higher seeds would receive preferential placement in the Playoff semifinal games.” That would depend on which teams win their quarterfinals, but if No. 1 Georgia advanced, Miami is the closer site.
Monday, Jan. 20
- National championship game in Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
The title game will remain on Monday night, as the NFL’s Divisional Round owns the weekend, but two weeks later than it is currently. The CFP had already selected Atlanta as its site for the 2024-2025 national championship game, with Miami taking its turn in 2025-26.
(Photo: Ali Gradischer / Getty Images)