College Football Playoff bracket: Here's what a 12-team playoff would look like after Week 8 – Sporting News

  • October 24, 2022

The undefeated ranks were thinned by three on Saturday when Syracuse, UCLA and Ole Miss suffered their first losses. In the world of a four-team College Football Playoff, those defeats are extremely costly, but they will be less so when the field expands to 12 teams.
Starting possibly in 2024 or 2025, but definitely by 2026, there will be a 12-team playoff in place. The four top teams may still end up in the semifinals, but the field will give more teams realistic chances to make the single-elimination field late in the regular season and set up more win-or-go-home games.
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A 12-team field would consist of the six highest rated conference champions and the six highest-rated at-large teams. The format most discussed would feature a first-round bye for the top four seeds and the first-round games to be held on campus. The top four seeds would be the four highest rated conference champions.
So what would the bracket look like if the field was unveiled today? These seeds are based on the latest AP rankings, but allowing for conference champions to be the top four seeds.
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Here would be the first-round matchups:
No. 12 Cincinnati at No. 5 Tennessee
The Butch Jones Bowl? Cincinnati would put its terrific run up against yet another SEC team. Georgia gave Cincinnati its only loss in 2020, Alabama its only loss in 2021 and Arkansas its only loss in 2022. Tennessee would likely do the same, but at some point, the Big 12-bound Bearcats will have enough to break through if they can hold on to coach Luke Fickell.
Winner plays No. 4 seed TCU
No. 11 Wake Forest at No. 6 Michigan
Wake Forest stood toe-to-toe with Clemson and lost in double-overtime earlier this season. The Deacons could have the type of offense that could give Michigan trouble — downfield passing that tests the secondary with an experienced quarterback. But the bigger question is if Wake could slow the Wolverines’ running attack enough, and that answer is likely no.
Winner plays No. 3 seed Clemson
No. 10 USC at No. 7 Alabama
Caleb Williams vs. Bryce Young? Yes, please. USC’s sophomore sensation with the rocket arm would be challenged by the reigning Heisman winner. There would be plenty of offensive fireworks, and the team with the ball last would likely be the one to advance.
Winner plays No. 2 seed Ohio State
No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Oregon
This Oregon team has an uphill battle to reach the playoff after its ugly season-opening loss to Georgia. But the 12-team field has room for one of the hottest teams in the nation. Oklahoma’s resume stacks up nicely, and the Cowboys would finally break through with a playoff berth after years of being on the fringe.
Winner plays No. 1 seed Georgia
The list of the seeds would be as follows based on today’s rankings and conference standings.
1. Georgia (7-0) – The Bulldogs were off Saturday and will carry a perfect record into its annual rivalry game with Florida this weekend. Georgia has won every game but one by at least 17 points.
2. Ohio State (7-0) – Ohio State suffocated the anemic Iowa offense en route to a 54-10 win. Penn State is up next for C.J. Stroud and Co., as an easy schedule gets gradually harder. Star wide receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba returned after missing three games and made one catch.
3. Clemson (8-0) – The Tigers extended their home win streak to 38 games, but it wasn’t easy. The Tigers erased a 21-10 halftime deficit and beat No. 19 Syracuse 27-21. Clemson has a week off before it travels to Notre Dame.
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4. TCU (7-0) – The Horned Frogs have put together two straight comebacks to remain unbeaten. One week after erasing a 17-point deficit against Oklahoma State, TCU erased an 18-point deficit against Kansas State and won 38-28. Quarterback Max Duggan (19 TDs, 1 INT) is sneaking into the Heisman conversation.
5. Tennessee (7-0) – Tennessee projects as an at-large in this exercise and Georgia as the SEC champion. The Vols easily rolled over UT-Martin 65-24 one week after upsetting Alabama. Back-to-back challenges await against Kentucky and Georgia.
6. Michigan (7-0) – Michigan had the week off following its dominant performance against Penn State. The Wolverines will host struggling Michigan State on Oct. 29. The Wolverines will close the regular season with Illinois and Ohio State.
7. Alabama (7-1) – The Tide once again shut down Mike Leach’s Air Raid attack in a 30-6 bounce back win. Alabama has allowed 15 points in three years against Mississippi State. Alabama has two weeks to prepare for suddenly dangerous LSU, which is 5-2 after a convincing win over Ole Miss. 
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8. Oregon (6-1) – Oregon raced to a 31-13 halftime lead against previously unbeaten UCLA and never let the Bruins back in the game on Saturday. Quarterback Bo Nix was terrific again, throwing for 5 touchdowns. He has 17 touchdowns, 1 interception during Oregon’s six-game win streak after its opening-day 49-3 loss to Georgia.
9. Oklahoma State (6-1) – Oklahoma State rallied from a 14-point deficit to defeat Texas 41-34 on Saturday to stay very much in the hunt for a spot in the Big 12 title game. The Cowboys held Texas to 3 points in the second half and Spencer Sanders threw the game-winning 41-yard TD pass with 3:09 to play.
10. USC (6-1) – The Trojans had an off week after losing 43-42 to Utah. USC is still in good shape to reach the Pac-12 championship game if they can handle UCLA in late November. None of USC’s next three opponents (Arizona, Cal, Colorado) have a winning record.
11. Wake Forest (6-1) – The Demon Deacons are a double-overtime loss to Clemson from being undefeated. Three ranked opponents remain — NC State, North Carolina and Syracuse, so Sam Hartman and Co. still have some work to do. Still, Wake is averaging 41.4 points per game, good for 10th in the nation and showed against Clemson it can play with anyone,. 
12. Cincinnati (6-1) – Cincinnati would qualify as the sixth highest rated conference champion in the expanded playoff. The Bearcats held off SMU 29-27 and are one of three AAC teams unbeaten in league play. Cincinnati is 39-5 the last four seasons.

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