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12 Team NCAA Playoff Bracket explained

Written by Doug Gann

June 8, 2024

The debate in the prior BCS days and the former 4 team CFP selections have always had very heated debates regarding the “bubble teams” or the “snubbed teams”. With the NCAA expanding to 12 teams that should certainly keep everyone happy, right? Right?

Not likely. I can imagine there will be debate from teams 13 through whatever. Similar to the way the NCAA does it in Basketball, there will always be teams that feel snubbed. That’s why things continue to get expanded. But hey, shouldn’t it be about who is playing the best and not just who the Selection Committee prefers?

Well, this debate is set to fuel more and more chaos, comments, and controversy, but that’s the world of College Sports.

Be sure to follow along with 446Sports as we debut our Pelican Sports Report in July LIVE from the SEC Media Days in Dallas, TX. Brian Kelly and LSU are set to lead things off Monday morning, July 15th. Things wrap up from Dallas on the 18th and we will be there covering each day.

Until then, check out the Fact Sheet that will get you even more confused as a lot of it is still up to the Selection Committee. Basically, the Top 4 conference Champions grab the Top 4 seeds and receive 1st Round byes. The 5th Conference Champion could be seeded as low as 12th.

One thing is for certain… we are not far from kicking off the 2024-2025 season. Media Guides will be out soon, and we will keep you up to date on some of the Nation’s best stories.

Here’s that fact sheet:

  • The 12 participating teams will be the five conference champions ranked highest by the CFP
    selection committee, plus the next seven highest-ranked teams.
  • The ranking of the teams will continue to be done by a selection committee.
  • The four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four and will receive
    a first-round bye. The fifth conference champion will be seeded where it was ranked or at No.
    12 if it is outside the top 12 rankings. Non-conference champions ranked in the top four will be
    seeded beginning at No. 5. Because of this, the seeding, 1 through 12, could look different than
    the final rankings.
  • The eight teams seeded No. 5-12 will play in a first round with the higher seeds hosting the
    lower seeds either on campus or at other sites designated by the higher-seeded institution (No.
    12 at No. 5, No. 11 at No. 6, No. 10 at No. 7 and No. 9 at No. 8.).
  • The selection committee will assign the four highest-ranked conference champions to Playoff
    Quarterfinals hosted by bowls. This will be done in consideration of historic bowl relationships,
    then in consideration of rankings. For example, if the Sugar Bowl hosts a Playoff Quarterfinal
    and the SEC champion is ranked No. 1 and the Big 12 champion is ranked No.3, the SEC
    champion would be assigned to the Sugar Bowl and the Big 12 champion would be assigned
    elsewhere.
  • With the four highest-ranked conference champions assigned to bowls, their four Playoff
    Quarterfinal opponents will be dictated by the bracket (i.e., No. 1 vs. No. 8/9 winner, No. 4 vs.
    No. 5/12 winner, No. 2 vs. 7/10 winner; No. 3 vs. 6/11 winner.)
  • The College Football Playoff bracket will follow the selection committee’s rankings, with no
    modifications made to avoid rematches between teams that may have played during the regular
    season or are from the same conference.
  • The bracket will remain in effect throughout the playoff (i.e., no re-seeding).
  • The highest seed will receive preferential placement for the Playoff Semifinal bowl assignment.
  • All 11 games will be under the CFP umbrella with the administrative policies determined by the
    CFP.
  • Future Game Dates for the 2024 and 2025 regular seasons:
    2024 Season
    First Round (On-Campus)
  • Friday, December 20, 2024: One Game
  • Saturday, December 21, 2024: Three Games
    Quarterfinals
  • Tuesday, December 31, 2024: Fiesta Bowl
  • Wednesday, January 1, 2025: Peach Bowl (early afternoon), Rose Bowl Game (late
    afternoon) and Sugar Bowl (primetime)
    Semifinals
  • Thursday, January 9, 2025: Orange Bowl
  • Friday, January 10, 2025: Cotton Bowl Classic
    CFP National Championship
  • Monday, January 20, 2025: Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
    2025 Season
    First Round (On-Campus)
  • Friday, December 19, 2025: One Game
  • Saturday, December 20, 2025: Three Games
    Quarterfinals
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2025: Cotton Bowl Classic
  • Thursday, January 1, 2026: Orange Bowl (early afternoon), Rose Bowl Game (late
    afternoon) and Sugar Bowl (primetime)
    Semifinals
  • Thursday, January 8, 2026: Fiesta Bowl
  • Friday, January 9, 2026: Peach Bowl
    CFP National Championship
  • Monday, January 19, 2026: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

Written by Doug Gann

June 8, 2024

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