It has been a long time coming for the College Football Playoff expansion. Fans have been calling for it since the four-team event started after the death of the BCS. Still, with just four teams, it made college football picks to make and win the playoff much easier. The same grouping of units was consistently making the playoffs, and with limited options, it was leaving so many other programs out of contention because recruits wanted to win championships.
But those days are gone, as Dec. 1 will forever be cemented in history as the day the College Football Playoff was set to expand. It will begin in 2024 with a 12-team playoff – each Power Five conference champion, one guaranteed Group of Five teams, and six at-large bids.
It makes college football predictions a little more difficult. The ruling comes on the heels of the most parity in a college football season since the playoff began.
For the second straight year, the Michigan Wolverines have supplanted the Ohio State Buckeyes in the playoffs, barring a loss in the Big Ten Championship Game for the Wolverines.
It is expected to be the first year without the Clemson Tigers, even if they win the ACC Championship Game or the Alabama Crimson Tide. However, the jury isn’t out yet, even though they won’t play in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
While the defending champion Georgia Bulldogs have dominated college football picks against the spread and are likely, the No. 1 team, two new programs are set to make playoff debuts. That includes the Texas Christian Horned Frogs and Southern California Trojans.
Now the new format means the blue blood would likely still make it. It would emphasize the ACC Championship Game between Clemson and North Carolina, who would make a 12-team playoff under the new format. It would also set each up for an opportunity to get an at-large bid, though less likely for the Tar Heels.
It would also create an instance where Ohio State and Alabama are likely still in the mix. The Buckeyes only have one loss to Michigan. The Crimson Tide lost two games on the final play by a combined four points, but they lack a great win.
But it also would make the late season more valuable for teams who could win their conference championship games. Had they made the Pac-12 Championship Game, a team like Oregon could have played its way back into playoff contention after suffering a 49-3 defeat by Georgia in the first game of the season.
Media broadcast rights expire after the 2025 playoff with ESPN. So a new deal will be negotiated among the networks, and a playoff in 2026. But part of the playoff expansion means an extra game added to the calendar.
It won’t be until 2026 but expect the regular season to be moved up a week to accommodate the broadcasting networks. The “Week 0” will become the first week of the season, likely eliminating the smaller slate that came as an appetizer to the season.
In 2026 the quarterfinals will likely be hosted on the higher seeds’ campuses. That means a team like LSU could travel to Wisconsin and play in frigid temperatures and snow, something that rarely, if ever, happens.
The bowls are set to host the semifinals, championship games, and all playoff games for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. But expect coaches, local governments, and campus administrators to get greedy over the economic boom they stand to gain by hosting games.
One of the issues of the playoff is the National Football League plays regular season games on Saturdays in December with threats of expanding. That likely hurts the television draw of fans. But a playoff game means more than the NFL games, usually between teams not in the playoff hunt.
Still, the NFL is broadcasting its Thursday Night Football games on Amazon. With streaming platforms becoming more popular, the college football playoffs could dominate cable ratings by being available to more homes.
At any rate, a playoff game is more important than a regular season game regardless of level, so fear not. Expansion is finally happening.