How a 12-team College Football Playoff could’ve looked


News that the College Football Playoff field is reportedly expanding to 12 teams — the six highest-ranked conference champions and six at-large teams — will greatly affect the collegiate landscape.

What’s more, the CFP’s 11-person Board of Managers, which voted unanimously on expansion, is encouraging commissioners to implement the new format as early as 2024, according to multiple reports.

Currently, four teams play in two semifinal games, which rotate among the New Year’s Six bowl games. The winner of each semifinal advances to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. In total, four teams play in three games under the current format, which has been the case since the CFP’s inception in 2014.

Alabama has the most CFP appearances (seven), wins (nine) and championships (three), while the SEC leads all conferences with the most appearances (10), wins (14) and championship berths (five).

12-Team College Football Playoff approved by unanimous vote

RJ Young reacts to the news that a 12-Team College Football Playoff was greenlit.

Due to the four-team tournament layout, at least one Power 5 champion misses the playoffs each season. What’s more, a Group of 5 team had never been selected to the CFP until last season, when the American Athletic Conference‘s 13-1 Cincinnati Bearcats joined the field.

Needless to say, the current playoff model’s selection process has long been criticized.

That said, let’s take a look at what the CFP field could have looked liked over the past five years if a 12-team format were in play.

SEASON: 2021-2022

Which teams made the playoffs? Conference winners Alabama (SEC), Michigan (Big Ten), Cincinnati (AAC) and at-large Georgia

2022 CFP National Champion: Georgia

Other teams that would’ve made it: Conference winners Baylor (Big 12), Utah (Pac-12) and Pittsburgh (ACC), plus at-large bids Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and Michigan State.

SEASON: 2020-21

Which teams made the playoffs? Conference winners Alabama (SEC), Clemson (ACC), Ohio State (Big Ten) and at-large Notre Dame

2021 CFP National Champion: Alabama

Other teams that would’ve made it: Conference winners Oklahoma (Big 12), Cincinnati (AAC) and Coastal Carolina (Sun Belt), plus at-large bids Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia, Iowa State and Indiana

SEASON: 2019-20

Which teams made the playoffs? Conference winners LSU (SEC), Ohio State (Big Ten), Clemson (ACC) and Oklahoma (Big 12)

2020 CFP National Champion: LSU

Other teams that would’ve made it: Conference winners Oregon (Pac-12) and Memphis (AAC), plus at-large bids Georgia, Baylor, Wisconsin, Florida, Penn State and Utah

SEASON: 2018-19

Which teams made the playoffs? Conference winners Alabama (SEC), Clemson (ACC) and Oklahoma (Big 12) and at-large Notre Dame 

2019 CFP National Champion: Clemson

Other teams that would’ve made it: Conference winners Ohio State (Big Ten), UCF (AAC) and Washington (Pac-12), plus at-large bids Georgia, Michigan, Florida, LSU and Penn State

SEASON: 2017-18

Which teams made the playoffs? Conference winners Clemson (ACC), Oklahoma (Big 12) and Georgia (SEC) and at-large Alabama

2018 CFP National Champion: Alabama

Other teams that would’ve made it: Conference winners Ohio State (Big Ten), USC (Pac-12) and UCF (AAC), plus at-large bids Wisconsin, Auburn, Penn State, Miami (FL) and Washington


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