New College Football Playoff Format: 12-Team Expansion

The College Football Playoff is going to expand. Read on to learn more about how this 12-team format will work and when it will start.

November 28, 2023

It took a long time, but the NCAA finally recognized what many fans, coaches, analysts, and other college observers have argued for years – the four-team College Football Playoff just doesn’t have enough teams.

Several teams in the CFP era had legitimate claims to be among the final four but were denied, including Ohio State in 2015, Texas A&M in 2020 and 12-0 Central Florida in 2017.

But starting in the 2024 season, the College Football Playoff will expand to 12 teams, thus allowing more teams with excellent seasons to be included in the tournament. There will be four rounds, up from the current two, and will still involve the annual New Year’s Six set of bowl games.

When Will This College Football Playoff Format Begin?

The first game of the new 12-team CFP format will be Friday, Dec. 20, 2024, and will be played at the higher-seeded school’s stadium. The championship game will be Monday, Jan. 20, 2025, at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

The new format originally was going to begin in the 2026 season, but the Rose Bowl agreed to allow the expanded CFP to begin in the 2024 season.

How The 12-Team College Football Playoff Will Work

A 13-member committee – consisting of current athletic directors from the ‘Power Five’ conferences, former coaches, players and others – will select the CFP participants after the end of the regular season.

Teams will be seeded 1 through 12. There will be four games in the first round, involving the teams seeded 5th through 12th. The top four seeded teams get byes.

The top four teams will be comprised of the top four conference champions. The remaining eight teams will be a mix of six at-large bids and the two highest-ranked remaining conference champions. Teams will be ordered based on the College Football Playoff rankings.

Thus, six conference champions will make the CFP. The top four of those will almost always be among the Power Five conferences – SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12. The two other conference champions will be comprised of the fifth-best Power 5 conference champion and a conference champion from one of the ‘Group of Five’ conferences – the American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences.

There is a bit of a caveat for the 2024 season in the wake of the mass exodus of schools leaving the Pac-12, which now has only four teams remaining and conceivably could go extinct. It’s unclear as of yet how that will all shake out.

After the first round of the CFP, there will be eight teams remaining. There will then be the quarterfinals, with four games, followed by the semifinals and ultimately the championship game.

The CFP will remain a single-elimination tournament. If you lose, you are out.

Bowl Games Featured in the 12-Team CFP

In the 2024 season, these bowl games will be CFP game sites: Fiesta, Peach, Rose, Sugar, Orange and Cotton. Those are also known as the New Year’s Six, meaning the top bowl games played on or near New Year’s Day.

Schedule For The 12-Team College Football Playoff

Here is the schedule for the first 12-team CFP in the 2024-25 season:

First round (games played at the higher-seeded schools’ stadiums)

  • Friday, Dec. 20 (one game)
  • Saturday, Dec. 21 (three games)


  • Tuesday, Dec. 31 (Fiesta Bowl)
  • Wednesday, Jan. 1 (Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl)


  • Thursday, Jan. 9 (Orange Bowl)
  • Friday, Jan. 10 (Cotton Bowl)

Championship Game

Monday, Jan. 20 in Atlanta

Bet on The College Football Playoff Expansion with Tipico

It’s a bit early to place a futures bet on the 2024 CFP, but there’s still time to put your money where your predictions are for this season. As of late November, the top odds for the CFP winner are Michigan (+190), Georgia (+210) and Oregon (+500).

Click here to place a bet with Tipico today!

Alex Valdes
Alex Valdes is Web Content Manager at Tipico North America. He has written, edited and performed user and site analysis at MoneyTalksNews, NBC Sports, MSN, Bing, MSNBC, as well as newspapers and magazines.