Here’s what a 12-team college football field looks like this week

Although not officially finalized, the expanded 12-team College Football Playoffs are scheduled to debut with the 2024 season. Each week for the remainder of the season, Athleticism will test the proposed format using the latest ranking of the top 25 from the CFP committee.

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

Four seeds (byes in the first round):

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

Under the model approved by the CFP Board of Directors, the top four seeds will be reserved for the four highest-ranked conference champions. For our purposes, we designate the highest-ranked team from each conference as its champion. 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 pass for the quarter-finals.

No. 5-12 seeds:

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

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

The remaining six top-ranked teams would join them: No. 3 Michigan, No. 5 LSU, No. 7 Alabama, No. 9 Oregon, No. 10 Tennessee and No. 11 Penn State.

The CFP calendar

All times Eastern.

First round

Friday, December 13

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

Saturday December 14

  • No. 12 Tulane at No. 5 Michigan, noon
  • No. 11 Penn State at No. 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 seeded campuses during the third weekend of December. Which games are placed in which slots would likely be determined by ESPN, with Tennessee-Alabama the obvious selection in Saturday prime time.


Tuesday, December 31

  • Peach Bowl: No. 3 TCU vs. LSU-Penn State winner, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday January 1

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

The current six New Year’s Bowls are expected to rotate to host the quarter-finals and semi-finals, with the aim of playing most of the quarter-finals on New Year’s Day. And the CFP board said in their announcement that the top four seeds will be awarded “taking into account current contractual relationships”.

Using those metrics, No. 1 Georgia would go to the SEC Contract Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and No. 2 Ohio State to the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten champion. The Peach and Fiesta Bowls don’t have conference partners, but No. 3 TCU would likely be preferred over No. 4 USC, and Atlanta is closer. This conveniently allows Trojans to stay in the west.


Thursday January 9

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

Friday January 10

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

The commissioners have not officially determined the dates for the semi-finals, but they should be at least a week later than the quarter-finals, and the CFP would avoid scheduling them in front of the NFL Wild Card weekend ( January 11-13). This probably means placing one Thursday night and the other Friday night.

In the announcement from the CFP board of directors, he said “top seeds will receive preferential placement in the playoff semifinals.” It will depend on which teams win their quarterfinals, but if No. 1 Georgia advances, Miami is closer than Arlington.

Monday January 20

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

The title game is set to remain on Monday night as the NFL’s Divisional Round has a grip on potential weekend dates. The CFP had already chosen Atlanta as the site for the 2025 national championship game, and it is expected to stay that way even though the game will likely be played two weeks later than scheduled.

And here’s how we expect the tournament to play out in the quarter-finals and beyond:

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

Check out last week’s screening here.

(Illustration: Sean Reilly / Athleticism; photos: Tom Pennington, Jeff Moreland, G Fiume/Getty Images)

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