While not officially finalized yet, the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff is expected to debut in the 2024 season. Every week for the rest of the season, The athletic will test the proposed format using the latest CFP Commission Top 25 rankings.
Here’s how the group would be placed and venue locations determined using the committee’s November 22 rankings and a calendar for 2024-25. Note: The Orange and Cotton Bowls were previously scheduled to host the 2024-25 semifinals and Atlanta was selected as the national championship game.
Top Four Seeds (Goodbye 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, the top four seeds are reserved for the top four ranked conference champions. For our purposes, we designate 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 into the quarterfinals.
Nos. 5-12 seeds:
5. Michigan (in general)
6. LSU (in general)
7. Alabama (in general)
8. Clemson (ACC Champion)
9. Oregon (in general)
10. Tennessee (in general)
11. Penn State (in general)
12. Tulane (AAC Champion)
Following the same model, the six highest-ranked conference champions are guaranteed berths, along with the six highest-ranked at-large teams. If the season ended today, the fifth and sixth highest ranked conference champions would be No. 8 Clemson (ACC) and No. 19 Tulane (AAC).
With them in the field, the six highest-ranked remaining teams would be 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 Eastern.
Friday December 13
- No. 9 Oregon at No. 8 Clemson, 7:30 p.m
Saturday December 14
- Tulane No. 12 on Michigan No. 5, noon
- No. 11 Penn State at No. 6 LSU, 4 p.m
- No. 10 Tennessee at No. 7 Alabama, 8 p.m
The four games in the first round will be played on the third weekend of December on the campuses of Nos. 5-8. Which games will be placed in which slots will likely be determined by ESPN, with Tennessee-Alabama being the obvious primetime selection on Saturday.
Tuesday December 31
- Peach Bowl: No. 3 TCU vs. LSU-Penn State winner, 7:30 p.m
Wednesday Jan 1
- Fiesta Bowl: No. 4 USC vs. Michigan-Tulane winner, 1 p.m
- Rose Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State vs. Alabama-Tennessee winner, 5 p.m
- Sugar Bowl: Winner No. 1 Georgia vs. Clemson-Oregon, 8:45 p.m
The current New Year’s Six Bowls are expected to rotate hosting the 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 “subject to current contract bowl relationships.”
Using 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 have no conference partners, but No. 3 TCU would probably be preferred to No. 4 USC, and Atlanta is closer. That easily allows the 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 LSU/No. 11 Penn State, 7:30 p.m
Friday January 10
- Orange Bowl: No. 1 Georgia / No. 8 Clemson/No. 9 Oregon vs. No. 4 USC/No. 5 Michigan/No. 12 Tulane, 7:30 p.m
The commissioners haven’t officially set the dates of the semifinals yet, but they should be at least a week later than the quarterfinals, and the CFP would avoid scheduling them opposite the NFL’s Wild Card weekend (January 11-13). ). That probably means posting one Thursday night and the other Friday night.
The announcement from the CFP board stated that “the higher seeds would be given preferential 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 20
- National championship game in Atlanta, 7:30 p.m
The title game is expected to go on Monday night as the NFL’s divisional round stands in the way of a possible weekend date. The CFP had already selected Atlanta as the venue for the 2025 national championship game, and is expected to stay that way, even though the game will now likely be played two weeks later than scheduled.
And this is how we predict the tournament will unfold in the quarter-finals 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 athletic; Photos: Tom Pennington, Jeff Moreland, G Fiume/Getty Images)