College Football Playoff rankings: What a 12-team bracket would be after latest Top 25

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. 28 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. Michigan (Big Ten champion)
3. Washington (Pac-12 champion)
4. Florida State (ACC 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. 2 Michigan (Big Ten), No. 3 Washington (Pac-12) and No. 4 Florida State (ACC) 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. Oregon (at-large)
6. Ohio State (at-large)
7. Texas (Big 12 champion)
8. Alabama (at-large)
9. Missouri (at-large)
10. Penn State (at-large)
11. Ole Miss (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. Earlier this month, the commissioners recommended changing it to five champions/seven at-large teams, given that the Pac-12 will no longer be viewed as a 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. 22 Tulane (AAC). Joining them in the field would be the six highest-ranked remaining teams: No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 8 Alabama, No. 9 Missouri, No. 10 Penn State and No. 11 Ole Miss.

The CFP schedule

All times Eastern.

First round

Friday, Dec. 19

  • No. 12 Tulane at No. 5 Oregon, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 20

  • No. 11 Ole Miss at No. 6 Ohio State, noon
  • No. 9 Missouri at No. 8 Alabama, 4 p.m.
  • No. 10 Penn State at No. 7 Texas, 8 p.m.

The four first-round games will be played on the campuses of the Nos. 5-8 seeds over the third weekend in December. Which games get placed in which slots would likely be determined by TV. I put Penn State-Texas in prime time.


Tuesday, Dec. 31

  • Fiesta Bowl: No. 3 Washington vs. Ohio State-Ole Miss winner, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan 1

  • Peach Bowl: No. 4 Florida State vs. Oregon-Tulane winner, 1 p.m.
  • Rose Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs. Texas-Penn State 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 Florida State/No. 5 Oregon/No. 12 Tulane, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 10

  • Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Michigan/No. 7 Texas/No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 3 Washington/No. 6 Ohio State/No. 11 Ole Miss, 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.

National championship

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.

(Top photo: Ronald Martinez  /Getty Images)

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