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How a 12-team playoff would impact Georgia football program
Much like Thanos in Marvel movies, playoff expansion is inevitable.
After starting out with four teams, the College Football Playoff seems destined to grow. A recent report from Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports is the latest to state that a 12-team model seems like the favorite at this point.
There’s still much to be sorted out with regards to the expansion, such as the number of teams, automatic bids for conference champions, possible entry for a Group of 5 team and when to start the new College Football Playoff, as the current contract runs through the 2025-26 season.
All of that will be sorted out in due time. But it does seem like change is coming to the college football playoff.
And there are few teams that would benefit as much as Georgia would under an expanded College Football Playoff.
The Bulldogs have made the College Football Playoff just once in the seven years of its existence, with the magical run coming back during the 2017.
Perhaps the chief reason for why Georgia has only made it once is because it has often had to play a fellow College Football Playoff participant in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs ended up missing the College Football Playoff in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons due to late-season losses to Alabama and LSU.
If the sport had previously expanded to a 12-team playoff model, Georgia comfortably would’ve been in the field in each of those seasons. You could even add the 2020 season as well when Georgia went 7-2 in the regular season and were the No. 9 overall team in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
While the 2018 and 2019 seasons offer examples of why the College Football Playoff season should be expanded, the 2020 season shows why Georgia really stands to benefit.
Think of everything that went wrong for the Bulldogs in the past season. Three different starting quarterbacks. The Richard LeCounte and Jordan Davis injuries happening prior to the Florida game. A new offensive coordinator tasked with building a new offense in a pandemic. Blowout defeats to the two best teams on your schedule. Very few things broke Georgia’s way during the 2020 season.
Had there been a 12-team playoff, Georgia still would’ve been in the field. Everything that could’ve gone wrong for the Bulldogs seemingly did and the Bulldogs still had enough talent to be one of the 12-best teams in the country.
By the time the College Football Playoff would’ve started, Georgia had figured out its quarterback conundrum with JT Daniels. Davis had finally gotten healthy. Cincinnati would’ve been a very tough out as the Peach Bowl proved but it’s hard not to envision a scenario where Georgia beats the Bearcats and then gets a crack at Alabama with Daniels under center.
Georgia wouldn’t be the only team to benefit from a bigger College Football Playoff field. If a 12-team field had existed since 2014, Penn State would have four appearances compared to its current zero. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Florida would also have three additional bids.
Related: College Football Playoff expansion talk swirling, Georgia would benefit from 12-team model
The debate between a 12-team playoff and an eight-team version will likely continue until a version is finalized.
One factor working against a 12-team model is that it does add an extra game to the schedule for teams seeded 5-12. For the 2018 Georgia team, that could’ve possibly meant playing 17 games in a season if the Bulldogs reached the national championship game.
But the additional teams in a 12-team model would continue to reward the teams that finish in the top-4, which would keep some emphasis on the regular season. A bye week is absolutely worth winning a conference championship and 11 or 12 regular-season games.
There’s also the possibility that the first-round games for teams seeded five through 12 could be played on campus. Using the 2018 team as an example, imagine a December home game in Sanford Stadium against No. 12 Penn State.
At Georgia though, reaching the College Football Playoff isn’t the stated goal. It’s not going to stop the 1980 jokes. Would an expanded playoff make winning a national championship any easier?