College Football Playoff bowl projections: How a 12-team bracket looks after initial CFP Rankings release

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Change is coming to the College Football Playoff in a big way next season. The postseason tournament will grow from four teams to 12. As of now, the 12 teams in the bracket will include the six highest-rated conference champions, according to the CFP Rankings, and the next six highest-ranked programs. The top four conference champions will get byes into the quarterfinals.

There is a legitimate chance that format will be adjusted to account for the demise of the Pac-12. That could result in something as simple as guaranteeing playoff spots for only the top five conference champions (with seven at-large bids) or something more drastic, such as doing away with automatic qualifiers entirely.

The College Football Playoff selection committee released its first set of rankings on Tuesday night, so I will be using those to determine conference champions and at-large teams for this exercise. The conference champions will be the highest-rated team from each conference. If there are fewer than six conferences represented in the rankings, I will project however many are needed to get to six.

Three of the top four seeds this week are newcomers. Ohio State moves up to No. 1 overall after being second last week, relegating rival Michigan to at-large status. Oklahoma’s loss to Kansas dropped the Sooners from their status as Big 12 champions, with that spot now being occupied by Texas. As the only major conference champion with a loss, however, the Longhorns are not high enough in the rankings to get a bye into the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Georgia replaces Oklahoma among the teams with a bye as well after the Bulldogs came in at No. 2 in the initial CFP Rankings.

In the Group of Five universe, the CFP selection committee put Tulane ahead of Air Force, so the Green Wave return to this projection as the 12-seed and AAC champions. They would be looking forward to a trip to Michigan in December. Pack your snowshoes!

Let’s take a look at how the 12-team playoff would look through nine full weeks of the 2023 season.

(9) Oklahoma at (8) AlabamaWinner advances to play (1) Ohio State*

(12) Tulane* at (5) MichiganWinner advances to play (4) Washington*

(11) Penn State at (6) Oregon*Winner advances to play (3) Florida State*

(10) Ole Miss at (7) TexasWinner advances to play (2) Georgia*

* Projected conference champion


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