College Football Playoff: What Would This Week’s Expanded 12-Team Field Look Like?

Though not yet officially complete, the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff is expected to debut with the 2024 season. Every week for the rest of the season, the athlete will test the proposed format against the latest CFP Committee Top 25 Ranking.

Thus the bracket would be set and site locations determined using the committee’s November 22 ranking and a 2024-25 calendar. Note: The Orange Bowls and Cotton Bowls were previously scheduled to host the 2024-25 semifinals, and Atlanta was selected as the national championship game.

Top 4 Seeds (First Round Byes):

1. Georgia (SEC champions)
2. Ohio State (Big Ten Champion)
3. TCU (Big 12 Champion)
4th USC (Pac-12 Champion)

Under the model approved by the CFP Board of Directors, the top four seeded spots will be reserved for the top four ranked conference champions. For our purposes, we’re proclaiming the top-ranked team from each conference as champions. That means No. 1 Georgia (SEC), No. 2 Ohio State (Big Ten), No. 4 TCU (Big 12), and No. 6 USC (Pac-12) would get a bye to the quarterfinals.

No. 5-12 seeds:

5. Michigan (general)
6. LSU (Broadly)
7. Alabama (at large)
8. Clemson (ACC Champion)
9. Oregon (Broadly)
10. Tennessee (Broadly)
11. Penn State (at large)
12. Tulane (AAC Champion)

Following the same model, the top six ranked conference champions are guaranteed spots along with the top six ranked teams at large. If the season ended today, the fifth- and sixth-highest-ranked conference champions would be No. 8 Clemson (ACC) and No. 19 Tulane (AAC).

They are joined by the six top-ranked remaining teams: No. 3 Michigan, No. 5 LSU, No. 7 Alabama, No. 9 Oregon, No. 10 Tennessee and No. 11 Penn State.

The CFP schedule

All times Easter.

First round

Friday December 13th

  • No. 9 Oregon at No. 8 Clemson, 7:30 p.m

Saturday December 14th

  • No. 12 Tulane at No. 5 Michigan, noon
  • #11 Penn State at #6 LSU, 4 p.m
  • No. 10 Tennessee at No. 7 Alabama, 8 p.m

The four first-round matches will be played at the No. 5-8 campus on the third weekend of December. Which games go into which slots will likely be determined by ESPN, with Tennessee-Alabama being the obvious choice during Saturday prime time.

quarter finals

Tuesday 31 December

  • Peach Bowl: #3 TCU vs. LSU-Penn State Winner, 7:30 p.m

Wednesday, 1.1

  • Fiesta Bowl: No. 4 USC vs. Winners Michigan-Tulane, 1 p.m
  • Rose Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State vs. Alabama-Tennessee Winner, 5 p.m
  • Sugar Bowl: Winner #1 Georgia vs. Clemson-Oregon, 8:45 p.m

The current New Year’s Six Bowls are expected to alternately host quarterfinals and semifinals, with the goal of playing the most quarterfinals on New Year’s Day. And the CFP board said in its announcement that the top four seeds will be allocated “taking into account current treaty bowl relationships.”

With those parameters, No. 1 Georgia would go to the SEC’s Contract Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and No. 2 Ohio State would go to the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champions. The Peach and Fiesta bowls don’t have conference partners, but No. 3 TCU would likely get preference over No. 4 USC, and Atlanta is closer. This conveniently allows the Trojans to stay in the west.


Thursday January 9th

  • Cotton Bowl: #2 Ohio State/No. 7 Alabama/No. 10 Tennessee vs. No. 3 TCU/No. 6 LSU/No. 11 Penn State, 7:30 p.m

Friday January 10th

  • Orange Bowl: #1 Georgia/No. 8 Clemson/No. 9 Oregon vs. #4 USC/No. 5 Michigan/No. 12 Tulane, 7:30 p.m

The commissioners haven’t officially set the dates of the semifinals, but they would need to occur at least a week after the quarterfinals, and the CFP would avoid scheduling them over the NFL’s wild card weekend (Jan. 11-13). That probably means you place one Thursday night and the other Friday night.

The CFP board announcement said, “The higher-seeded players would receive preferred placement in the playoff semifinals.” That would depend on which teams win their quarterfinals, but if No. 1 Georgia advances, Miami is closer than arlington

Monday, January 20th

  • National Championship game in Atlanta, 7:30 p.m

The title game is expected to remain on Monday night as the NFL’s divisional round gets a grip on potential weekend dates. The CFP had already selected Atlanta as the venue for the 2025 national championship game and is expected to remain so, although the game will now likely be played two weeks later than planned.

Here’s how we predict how the tournament would play out in the quarterfinals and beyond:

  • No. 9 Oregon beats No. 8 Clemson
  • No. 5 Michigan beats No. 12 Tulane
  • No. 6 LSU beats No. 11 Penn State
  • No. 7 Alabama beats No. 10 Tennessee
  • No. 1 Georgia beats No. 9 Oregon
  • No. 5 Michigan beats No. 4 USC
  • No. 6 LSU beats No. 3 TCU
  • No. 7 Alabama beats No. 2 Ohio State
  • No. 1 Georgia beats No. 5 Michigan
  • No. 7 Alabama beats No. 6 LSU
  • No. 1 Georgia beats No. 7 Alabama

Check out last week’s projection here.

(Illustration: Sean Reilly / the athlete; Photos: Tom Pennington, Jeff Moreland, G Fiume / Getty Images)

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