The College Football Playoff will officially expand to 12 teams during the 2024 season, the playoff’s board of managers announced Thursday.
After a long and often contentious debate over the best way to improve the current system, this expansion will increase the number and variety of teams capable of winning the Bowl Subdivision national championship.
“We’re delighted to be moving forward,” said playoff executive director Bill Hancock. ‘A new era of college football is about to begin. I look forward to it.”
The last remaining obstacle to expansion was cleared late Wednesday with an agreement between the playoff and the Rose Bowl that amended the bowl’s existing contract in order to adjust to the new format.
There are no automatic playoff bids in the four-team system. Under the 12-team system, the field will be composed of the six conference champions ranked highest by the selection committee and the six highest-ranked non-conference champions. The 12-team format will allow access for at least one team from the Group of Five.
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According to the playoff, the first round of the 2024 bracket will occur during the week ending Dec. 21, at ‘either the home field of the higher-seeded team or at another site designated by the higher-seeded institution.’ These games would pit seeds No. 12 and No. 5, No. 11 and No. 6, No. 10 and No. 7, and No. 9 and No. 8.
The top four highest-rated conference champions would have an open date and not play until the quarterfinals.
For 2024 and 2025, the four quarterfinal and two semifinal games will be played at rotating bowl sites. In 2024, the quarterfinals will be the Fiesta, Peach, Rose and Sugar bowls, with the semifinals at the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl.
In 2025, the Cotton, Orange, Rose and Sugar will host the quarterfinals and the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl will host the semifinals.
The national championship games will be held on Jan. 20, 2025, in Atlanta, and Jan. 19, 2026, in Miami. Both dates are roughly one week later than the date of the national championship games during the four-team system.