Some key details about the 12-team College Football Playoff were unveiled Tuesday.
The CFP announced the schedule and bowl game assignments for the first two installments of the expanded format, which is going from four teams to 12 beginning with the 2024 season.
As a reminder, the 12-team playoff will consist of the six highest-ranked conference champions and the six highest-ranked at-large teams as chosen by the CFP selection committee. The top four conference champions will be seeded Nos. 1 through 4 and receive first-round byes. The remaining teams will play first-round games on the campus of the better seeds.
In 2024, those first-round games will take place on Friday, Dec. 20 and Saturday, Dec. 21. One game will be played on Friday night with the other three taking place on Saturday — one in the early afternoon, one in the late afternoon and another in the evening.
Moving ahead, the quarterfinals will be played at bowl sites on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The Fiesta Bowl will be played at night on New Year’s Eve (a Tuesday) with the Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl all being played on New Year’s Day (Wednesday).
From there, the semifinals will be played at the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2025 and Friday, Jan. 10, 2025. The CFP title game will then be held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday, Jan. 20.
Sports Illustrated reported last week that the two semifinals are slated for weeknights to avoid conflicting with the NFL’s wild card weekend, which begins Saturday, Jan. 11. The first-round CFP games will have some overlap with the NFL, which always has games on Saturdays over the final weeks of the regular season.
For the 2025 season, the scheduling layout is the same but the bowl assignments are different.
The first-round games on campus will be held on Friday, Dec. 19 and Saturday, Dec. 20 with one game on Friday night and the other three on Saturday. The first quarterfinal game, the Cotton Bowl, will be held on New Year’s Eve before the other three quarterfinals — the Orange Bowl (early afternoon), Rose Bowl (late afternoon) and Sugar Bowl (evening) — are played on New Year’s Day.
The semifinals for the 2025 season will be the Fiesta Bowl (Thursday, Jan. 8) and the Peach Bowl (Friday, Jan. 9) before the national championship at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Monday, Jan. 19.
Exact kickoff times will come at a later date, the CFP said. The broadcast arrangements for the 2024 and 2025 CFP have not been finalized yet either, though ESPN owns the rights for the final two years of the CFP contract.
Adjustments to 12-team CFP likely coming in 2026
The original 12-year contract between the College Football Playoff and ESPN runs through the 2025-26 season. That deal also included the “New Year’s Six” bowl games, meaning those bowls had to be included in the first iteration of the 12-team playoff.
The entire format of the CFP could look different after these first two years. That could mean a lot of things, including additional television partners or moving the quarterfinal games to on-campus sites.
There also could be an overall adjustment of the college football schedule — starting the season with what’s now known as Week 0 — so the CFP won’t run so deep into January.
What would a 12-team CFP have looked like in 2022?
Last season, the 12-team College Football Playoff would have looked like this based on the final rankings from the selection committee:
Georgia (SEC champion)
Michigan (Big Ten champion)
Clemson (ACC champion)
Utah (Pac-12 champion)
Ohio State (at-large)
Kansas State (Big 12 champion)
Penn State (at-large)
Tulane (highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion)
Based on that seeding, the first-round matchups would have been: No. 12 Tulane at No. 5 TCU, No. 11 Penn State at No. 6 Ohio State, No. 10 USC at No. 7 Alabama and No. 9 Kansas State at No. 8 Tennessee.
In the quarterfinals, No. 1 Georgia would have faced the Kansas State vs. Tennessee winner in the Sugar Bowl. No. 2 Michigan would have faced the USC-Alabama winner in the Rose Bowl. No. 3 Clemson would have faced the Penn State vs. Ohio State winner in the Peach Bowl. No. 4 Utah would have faced the Tulane-TCU winner in the Fiesta Bowl.
Here’s the full bracket:
The CFP released this to reporters last week. This is how a 2022 would have looked using the 2022 CFP selection committee rankings.
- 4 highest-ranked conference champs get byes
- 1st round at sites of better seeds
- quarters/semis at NY6 bowls pic.twitter.com/j8Rp3hh8Jz
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) May 2, 2023