Thankfully for college football fans everywhere, the College Football Playoff is changing its format. The expectation is that it will feature 12 teams, five automatic qualifiers and seven at-large bids. The four highest-ranked conference champions will have first-round byes. Teams ranked No. 5 to No. 12 will play each other in first-round games at the higher-ranked team's home stadium of their choice.
What is interesting about these rankings are this. While the four teams that made it into the final four-team field would all get first-round byes, there is a chance Georgia would have been No. 5 over Florida State in this exercise. Although the Dawgs and Seminoles will be hosting first-round games at their college football cathedrals, they would have to play one more game to have any shot of winning it all.
After the first-round games, the quarterfinals will now be played in four of the games that were part of the New Year's Six. The national semifinals would still be New Year's Six games, with the national title bout being played at a predetermined neutral-site location. The best part in going to a 12-team playoff is you get some amazing first-round matchups being played at one program's home stadium.
Here is what a 12-team College Football Playoff bracket would have looked like if it were happening.
College Football Playoff 12-team bracket if it were enacted for this year
Without question, this is the right 12 teams to be making the first expanded College Football Playoff.
- 1. Michigan Wolverines (13-0 Big Ten Champions)*
- 2. Washington Huskies (13-0 Pac-12 Champions)*
- 3. Texas Longhorns (12-1 Big 12 Champions)*
- 4. Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1 SEC Champions)*
- 5. Florida State Seminoles (13-0 ACC Champions) vs. 12. Liberty Flames (13-0 Conference USA/Group of Five Champions)
- 6. Georgia Bulldogs (12-1 SEC East Champions) vs. 11. Ole Miss Rebels (10-2 SEC At-Large)
- 7. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1 Big Ten At-Large) vs. 10. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2 Big Ten At-Large)
- 8. Oregon Ducks (11-2 Pac-12 Runner-Up) vs. 9. Missouri Tigers (10-2 SEC At-Large)
* = First-Round Bye
Florida State would host Group of Five champion Liberty out of Conference USA at Doak Campbell in Tallahassee. Georgia would get Ole Miss in Athens for a rematch of their blowout victory over the Rebels. Ohio State would host Penn State in Columbus, a rematch of the Buckeyes' win over the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley. Oregon would draw Missouri at Autzen to play in some Liquid Sunshine.
Even if you were to flip Florida State and Georgia in these rankings, they would be sizable favorites in their first-round matchups. Getting rematches from earlier in the season between Georgia and Ole Miss, as well as Ohio State and Penn State, could draw incredible ratings, especially for the latter game of the two. The first team out in this expanded playoff would have been the Oklahoma Sooners.
Overall, I think we should enjoy the college football postseason as it is for now, but get even more excited about what could be in store next year. We are talking about completely different debates, as well as including pretty much every corner of the country. Not to say more teams can realistically win a national title in this format, but more teams have a shot at winning a game or two with expansion.
Getting playoff games at Big Ten and SEC stadiums between two Big Ten and SEC teams is solid gold.