The penultimate College Football Playoff rankings were revealed on Tuesday night and, despite how late we are in the season, absolutely nothing is decided about the Top 4 that will make the CFP bracket and compete for a national championship. If only the field was expanded to 12 teams to give more programs a shot...
Oh wait! That's exactly what's coming next year in the 2024 season, the 12-team College Football Playoff bracket. That would dismiss the debate that teams like Alabama, Ohio State, Texas, and so on deserve to be in the CFP field as they would have the chance to prove it in a 12-team field.
Naturally, there will still be debates about the final at-large berths. But as of now, we are set to see the six highest-ranked conference champions and six at-large (or next highest-ranked teams) make the 12-team CFP bracket. That could change before the start of the 2024 season to the 5+7 format with seven at-large berths after the dissolution of the Pac-12, but we're not there yet.
It's always fun to look ahead or imagine a world in which the 12-team College Football Playoff bracket was already in existence, so let's do just that. Here's what that bracket would look like based on the Week 14 rankings from the CFP Selection Committee.
12-team College Football Playoff bracket based on Week 14 CFP rankings
12-team College Football Playoff bracket: Top 4 Seeds
- Georgia Bulldogs (12-0, Projected SEC Champion)
- Michigan Wolverines (12-0, Projected Big Ten Champion)
- Washington Huskies (12-0, Projected Pac-12 Champion)
- Florida State Seminoles (12-0, Projected ACC Champion)
The Top 4 seeds now match the Top 4 in the latest CFP rankings with Michigan beating Ohio State in each team's regular-season finale this past Saturday. However, one of the curious bits of the rankings is that Washington, ranked No. 3, will face Oregon, ranked No. 5, in the Pac-12 Championship Game. However, the Ducks are favored by nearly 10 points in the rematch of the regular-season game that the Huskies won in Seattle. If the odds are correct, Oregon would take that automatic berth and a Top 4 seed that comes with the first-round bye.
12-team College Football Playoff bracket: First Round
- 9 Missouri Tigers (10-2, At-Large) at 8 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1, At-Large)
- 10 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2, At-Large) at 7 Texas Longhorns (11-1, Projected Big 12 Champion)
- 11 Ole Miss Rebels (10-2, At-Large) at 6 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1, At-Large)
- 12 Tulane Green Wave (11-1, Projected AAC Champion) at 5 Oregon Ducks (11-1, At-Large)
With Louisville losing in the Governor's Cup to Kentucky during Rivalry Week, the Cardinals drop out of the projected 12-team CFP field unless they were to upset Florida State in the ACC Championship Game, which would give them an automatic berth.
In the current four-team format, though, the debate is about teams like FSU, Oregon, Ohio State, Texas and Alabama getting in. All five of those programs make it in if this was a 12-team format -- but we'd have new debates. Oklahoma is the first at-large team out as of the latest College Football Playoff rankings, which is a tough break for the Sooners, but would force the committee to closely examine their resumé versus the likes of Ole Miss and Penn State. The same of which is true for LSU, the No. 13 team in the latest Top 25 rankings.
12-team College Football Playoff bracket: Quarterfinals
- Peach Bowl: 9 Missouri/8 Alabama winner vs. 1 Georgia
- Fiesta Bowl: 12 Tulane/5 Oregon winner vs. 4 Florida State
- Cotton Bowl: 11 Ole Miss/6 Ohio State winner vs. 3 Washington
- Orange Bowl: 10 Penn State/7 Texas winner vs. 2 Michigan
Now that we don't have the strange Michigan/Ohio State logjam from the Big Ten within the Top 4, these matchups start to look even more enticing. Seeing Tulane try to take down another Pac-12 power as they did with USC in the Cotton Bowl last year would be electric, especially with the chance to face FSU on the line as well. And how about the possibilities of Texas vs. Michigan and Ohio State vs. Washington in the CFP Quarterfinals? Sign us up for that... even if means more SEC rematches for Georgia as things currently stand.