College Football Playoff to expand to 12 teams by 2024 after reaching agreement with Rose Bowl

Georgia football-Kirby Smart-national championship-recruiting
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during an interview with ESPN after the College Football Playoff National Championship in Indianapolis, Ind., on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

The College Football Playoff will be able to expand to 12 teams by the 2024 season, according to a report from ESPN’s Pete Thamel. The final hurdle was cleared when the Rose Bowl reportedly agreed to amend its deal with the current College Football Playoff set-up.

As it now stands, the 2023 season is expected to be the final season where only four teams make the College Football Playoff. Georgia has made the College Football Playoff twice under the current format, though it is poised to make it a third time given it is currently 12-0.

The current television contract with the College Football Playoff runs through 2026, which is why the Rose Bowl, along with the other five New Year’s Six bowls, needed to alter their deals in order for the playoff to expand to 12 teams. In September, the College Football Playoff Board of Managers voted to expand the College Football Playoff, but not until 2026 because final deals with the current set-up had not been reached.

One interesting wrinkle to note is that Texas and Oklahoma are not expected to join the SEC until the 2025 season, as that comes after their deal expires with the Big 12.

The 2024 season is also the final year of the old SEC scheduling model, which has also been in the process of changing. The two models being considered are an 8-game format with one-protected rival and a 9-game format with three-protected rivals. More clarity on the College Football Playoff should help settle any future questions about the schedule.

While the expansion to 12 teams is promising, it does little for this season. Four teams will make the College Football Playoff in 2022 and 2023.

“If you look over the last 10 years, somebody would be playing for maybe a bye, somebody would be playing maybe for a home field, somebody might be playing to play themselves into the 12-team field,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said this week. “Every year it could change with the expansion. I don’t worry about the relevance of the game with the state of football, the way it is in the SEC.”

Under the new format, the expectation is that the top-four conference champions would get bye’s while teams seeded No. 5, 6, 7 and 8 would host first-round games on campus. Quarterfinals, semifinals and the national championship would then be held at neutral sites. So for example, should Georgia, Michigan, TCU and USC win this weekend, those would be the top-four seeds.

Using the current College Football Playoff rankings, Ohio State would be the No. 5 seed and host No. 12 Tulane, as the Green Wave is the highest-rated Group of 5 conference champion. No. 6 Alabama would host No. 11. Utah, No. 7 Tennessee would play No. 10 Kansas State and No. 8 Penn State would host No. 9 Clemson.

Georgia holds the No. 1 ranking and would play the potential winner of Penn State-Clemson.

The Bulldogs take on LSU in Atlanta this weekend in the SEC championship game. Under the new College Football Playoff format, Georgia would be playing for a bye as the conference champion, while LSU would have the opportunity to win its way into the College Football Playoff as a conference champion.

Georgia and LSU kick off at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, with CBS airing the game.

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