The College Football Playoff isn’t expanding until 2024. But that’s not stopping us from wondering what a 12-team playoff would look like in 2022.
In case you missed it, the playoff will multiply by three in two years. The top six conference champions in the final College Football Playoff rankings will automatically receive a bid to the playoff and the six highest-ranked non-conference champions will fill out the field. The top four conference champions will receive byes to the second round while teams Nos. 5-12 will play each other in the first round.
Those first-round games will be at the home stadiums of the higher seeds while the remaining three rounds will be at bowl sites.
Since TCU didn’t win the Big 12 title, the Horned Frogs would not receive a bye if the 12-team format were in place in 2022. Georgia and Michigan would have the top two seeds while Clemson and Utah would get the other two byes in that order.
Here’s how the bracket would look. It’d be really fun.
This would be a great reward for Clemson and Utah for their dominant conference title game performances.
No. 5 TCU vs. No. 12 Tulane
The Green Wave would make the playoff as the sixth-highest ranked conference champion in the final rankings (at No. 16) instead of going to the Cotton Bowl like it is in actuality. This would be a fun game filled with a lot of big plays on offense. The winner would play Utah.
No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Penn State
A rematch of a regular-season Big Ten East game would be on tap here. Would that necessarily be a bad thing? Ohio State would have the chance to host after getting a road win over the Nittany Lions earlier this season. The winner of this one would face Clemson.
No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 10 USC
Bryce Young vs. Caleb Williams? Sign us up for that in a game that could be between the last two Heisman Trophy winners. The two tradition-rich programs have played twice since 1978 and Alabama has won both of those games. The last meeting was a 52-3 blowout by the Tide in 2016. The winner of this game would play Michigan.
No. 8 Tennessee vs. No. 9 Kansas State
All the first-round games would be pretty good, don’t you think? The Wildcats have the defense to slow down Tennessee’s offense, and Will Howard and Deuce Vaughn have been a fun offensive combination over the second half of the season. The winner of this game would get the right to play Georgia.