What if the College Football Playoff Had a 12-Team Format Since 2014

How the CFB Playoff would've looked with a 12-team format in recent years

Change is on the way for the College Football Playoff. On Thursday, a working group from the CFB Playoff proposed a 12-team format to replace the current four-team iteration in the near future. Some of the specifics are still to be determined, but the new format will feature six guaranteed positions to conference champions and six at-large spots. Also, first-round games will be held on campus sites, with the second round and semifinals shifting to bowls. The national championship will remain at a neutral site.

 

While changes could be made to the specifics and the format may look slightly different, Thursday’s announcement got us thinking: What would the CFB Playoff have looked like since 2014 - the first year of the expanded four-team championship - if a 12-team format existed?

 

The parameters in the new system: Teams ranked No. 1-4 will be conference champions and will receive a bye to the second round. Teams ranked No. 5-8 will host a first-round matchup against teams in the 9-12 range. Bowl games will host matchups in the second round and semifinals.

 

What if the College Football Playoff Had a 12-Team Format Since 2014

 

2020*

 

Top Four: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Oklahoma

Next Highest-Rated Champions: No. 8 Cincinnati and No. 12 Coastal Carolina

 

First-Round Games

 

No. 12 Coastal Carolina at No. 5 Notre Dame

No. 11 Indiana vs. No. 6 Texas A&M

No. 10 Iowa State at No. 7 Florida

No. 9 Georgia at No. 8 Cincinnati

 

Second-Round Games

 

Coastal Carolina/Notre Dame Winner vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (Fiesta)

Indiana/Texas A&M Winner vs. No. 3 Ohio State (Peach)

Iowa State/Florida Winner vs. No. 2 Clemson (Orange)

Georgia/Cincinnati Winner vs. No. 1 Alabama (Cotton)

 

Semifinals (using higher seeds as winner)

 

Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Oklahoma

 

* Of note: This year is not a great representation of the sport due to abbreviated seasons and limited games, especially from the Pac-12 and Big Ten.

 

 

2019

 

Top Four: No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Oklahoma

Next Highest-Rated Champions: No. 6 Oregon, No. 17 Memphis

 

First-Round Games

 

No. 12 Memphis at No. 5 Georgia

No. 11 Utah at No. 6 Oregon

No. 10 Penn State at No. 7 Baylor

No. 9 Florida at No. 8 Wisconsin

 

Second-Round Games

 

Memphis/Georgia Winner vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (Cotton)

Utah/Oregon Winner vs. No. 3 Clemson (Orange)

Penn State/Baylor Winner vs. No. 2 Ohio State (Rose)

Florida/Wisconsin Winner vs. No. 1 LSU (Sugar)

 

Semifinals (using higher seeds as winner)

 

Peach Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson

Fiesta Bowl: Alabama vs. Oklahoma

 

 

2018

 

Top Four: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 Ohio State

Next Highest-Rated Champions: No. 8 UCF, No. 9 Washington

 

First-Round Games

 

No. 12 Penn State at No. 5 Notre Dame

No. 11 LSU at No. 6 Georgia

No. 10 Florida at No. 7 Michigan

No. 9 Washington at No. 8 UCF

 

Second-Round Games

 

Penn State/Notre Dame Winner vs. No. 4 Ohio State (Rose)

LSU/Georgia Winner vs. No. 3 Oklahoma (Fiesta)

Florida/Michigan Winner vs. No. 2 Clemson (Peach)

Washington/UCF Winner vs. No. 1 Alabama (Sugar)

 

Semifinals (using higher seeds as winner)

 

Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Oklahoma

Cotton Bowl: Alabama vs. Ohio State

 

 

2017

 

Top Four: No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 Ohio State

Next Highest-Rated Champions: No. 8 USC, No. 12 UCF

 

First-Round Games

 

No. 12 UCF at No. 5 Alabama

No. 11 Washington at No. 6 Wisconsin

No. 10 Miami at No. 7 Auburn

No. 9 Penn State at No. 8 USC

 

Second-Round Games

 

UCF/Alabama Winner vs. No. 4 Ohio State (Fiesta)

Washington/Wisconsin Winner vs. No. 3 Georgia (Peach)

Miami/Auburn Winner vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (Cotton)

Penn State/USC Winner vs. No. 1 Clemson (Orange)

 

Semifinals (using higher seeds as winner)

 

Sugar Bowl: Clemson vs. Ohio State

Rose Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Georgia

 

 

2016

 

Top Four: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Washington, No. 4 Penn State

Next Highest-Rated Champions: No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 15 Western Michigan

 

First-Round Games

 

No. 12 Western Michigan vs. No. 5 Ohio State

No. 11 Florida State vs. No. 6 Michigan

No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 7 Oklahoma

No. 9 USC vs. No. 8 Wisconsin

 

Second-Round Games

 

Western Michigan/Penn State Winner vs. No. 4 Penn State (Sugar)

Florida State/Michigan Winner vs. No. 3 Washington (Rose)

Colorado/Oklahoma Winner vs. No. 2 Clemson (Orange)

USC/Wisconsin Winner vs. No. 1 Alabama (Cotton)

 

Semifinals (using higher seeds as winner)

 

Peach Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Washington

Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Clemson vs. Ohio State

 

 

2015

 

Top Four: No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Michigan State, No. 4 Oklahoma

Next Highest-Rated Champions: No. 6 Stanford, No. 18 Houston

 

First-Round Games

 

No. 12 Houston vs. No. 5 Iowa

No. 11 TCU vs. No. 6 Stanford

No. 10 North Carolina vs. No. 7 Ohio State

No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 8 Notre Dame

 

Second-Round Games

 

Houston/Iowa Winner vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (Fiesta)

TCU/Stanford Winner vs. No. 3 Michigan State (Rose)

North Carolina/Ohio State Winner vs. No. 2 Alabama (Peach)

Florida State/Notre Dame Winner vs. No. 1 Clemson (Sugar)

 

Semifinals (using higher seeds as winner)

 

Orange Bowl: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Oklahoma

Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Michigan State

 

 

2014

 

Top Four: No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Ohio State

Next Highest-Rated Champions: No. 5 Baylor, No. 20 Boise State

 

First-Round Games

 

No. 12 Boise State vs. No. 5 Baylor

No. 11 Kansas State vs. No. 6 TCU

No. 10 Arizona vs. No. 7 Mississippi State

No. 9 Ole Miss vs. No. 8 Michigan State

 

Second-Round Games

 

Boise State/Baylor Winner vs. No. 4 Ohio State (Peach)

Kansas State/TCU Winner vs. No. 3 Florida State (Orange)

Arizona/Mississippi State Winner vs. No. 2 Oregon (Fiesta)

Ole Miss/Michigan State Winner vs. No. 1 Alabama (Cotton)

 

Semifinals (using higher seeds as winner)

 

Rose Bowl: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Oklahoma

Sugar Bowl: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Michigan State

 

 

Overall Playoff Trips By Conference From 2014-20 if 12-Team Format Existed

 

Big Ten: 20

SEC: 19

Big 12: 12

Pac-12: 11

ACC: 11

AAC: 5

MAC: 1

Mountain West: 1

Sun Belt: 1

 

 

Appearances By Team

 

ACC (11 overall)

 

Clemson: 6

Florida State: 3

North Carolina: 1

Miami: 1

 

Big 12 (12 overall)

 

Oklahoma: 6

Baylor: 2

TCU: 2

Kansas State: 1

Iowa State: 1

 

Big Ten (20 overall)

 

Ohio State: 7

Penn State: 4

Wisconsin: 3

Michigan: 2

Michigan State: 2

Iowa: 1

Indiana: 1

 

Pac-12 (11 overall)

 

Washington: 3

USC: 2

Oregon: 2

Arizona: 1

Stanford: 1

Utah: 1

Colorado: 1

 

SEC (19 overall)

 

Alabama: 6

Georgia: 4

Florida: 3

LSU: 2

Ole Miss: 1

Mississippi State: 1

Texas A&M: 1

Auburn: 1

 

Independents

 

Notre Dame: 3

 

Group of 5

 

American (5 overall)

 

UCF: 2

Memphis: 1

Cincinnati: 1

Houston: 1

 

MAC (1 overall)

 

Western Michigan: 1

 

Mountain West (1 overall)

 

Boise State: 1

 

Sun Belt (1 overall)

 

Coastal Carolina: 1

 

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