Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Projected College Football Playoff bracket: How the 2025 field would look based on post-spring top 25 rankings

The expanded 12-team College Football Playoff debuts this fall, creating one of the biggest changes in the sport’s storied history. Suddenly, fans will have to get used to differentiating rankings from seedings, and teams that finish in the top 12 of the rankings will unceremoniously get pushed out of the field. 

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd released his post-spring top 25 on Wednesday, which sets the stage for the new field. Granted, a post-spring top 25 does not include all the nuance of teams playing a full schedule, but it comes close enough to let us tinker with the new format and give you a first look at how it may work. 

There are a few things to note before we dive in. First, get these words into your head: ranking and seeding. The committee will release a final ranking, but seeding is the only thing that matters. In this bracket, the No. 3 team in the country will enter as the No. 5 seed. The No. 14 team jumps up to the No. 4 seed. That’s how the system works. 

Second, a post-spring ranking is only one piece of context. Many of the top 10 teams in the top 25 will play — and beat — each other along the way, and potentially knock each other out. It’s unlikely that five of the top seven teams will ultimately come from one conference alone. 

One last point: We are treating Boise State as the top Group of Five champion despite coming from outside the poll. Per the CFP Committee’s protocols, if there is not a fifth champion in the final rankings, they will specifically compare the remaining conference champions and determine a fifth outside of the rankings. That protocol never became relevant in the previous CFP rankings, where multiple Group of Five teams often finished ranked. 

Without further ado, here is how our post-spring top 25 would translate to the College Football Playoff field in 2024. 

Dodd’s Top 25 Rankings

  1. Georgia*
  2. Ohio State*
  3. Oregon
  4. Texas
  5. Alabama
  6. Ole Miss
  7. Missouri
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Penn State
  10. LSU
  11. Utah*
  12. Michigan
  13. Oklahoma
  14. Clemson*
  15. Arizona
  16. Tennessee
  17. Miami
  18. Washington
  19. Kansas State
  20. Florida State
  21. Kansas
  22. SMU
  23. Texas A&M
  24. NC State
  25. Oklahoma State

Other: Boise State*

*projected conference champion

CFP Seeds

  1. Georgia
  2. Ohio State
  3. Utah
  4. Clemson
  5. Oregon
  6. Texas
  7. Alabama
  8. Ole Miss
  9. Missouri
  10. Notre Dame
  11. Penn State
  12. Boise State

13. LSU
14. Michigan
15. Oklahoma

Analysis: Welcome to the new era. Despite finishing in the top 10, LSU is projected to miss the field. Three teams ranked behind them — Utah, Clemson and Boise State — push them all the way out by virtue of winning their league (Utah, Clemson) and the Group of Five being guaranteed a spot (Boise State). Granted, LSU would finish sixth in its conference in this scenario, so no one should cry too much for the Tigers, but it will still feel strange the first time it happens. Michigan would also finish in the top 12, but not make the top 12 of the seedings. 

First Round

  • (5) Oregon vs. (12) Boise State
  • (6) Texas vs. (11) Penn State
  • (7) Alabama vs. (10) Notre Dame
  • (8) Ole Miss vs. (9) Missouri

Analysis: The first home-site College Football Playoff games would take place in Eugene, Austin, Tuscaloosa and Oxford. Not bad. Unusually, the first round would also not feature a single rematch of the regular season with the only intra-conference game listed as Ole Miss vs. Missouri, who have only played once since 2013. The others feature Big Ten vs. Mountain West, SEC vs. Big Ten and SEC vs. Independent. 

philmafahclemson.jpg

Clemson ranks 14th in Dodd’s rankings but gets the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in our projections because it won the ACC.  Getty Images

Quarterfinals

  • Sugar Bowl: (1) Georgia vs. (8) Ole Miss/(9) Missouri
  • Rose Bowl: (2) Ohio State vs. (7) Alabama/(10) Notre Dame
  • Fiesta Bowl: (3) Utah vs. (6) Texas/(11) Penn State
  • Peach Bowl: (4) Clemson vs. (5) Oregon/(12) Boise State

Analysis: The second round features the first guaranteed rematch with Georgia facing either Ole Miss or Missouri, but this grouping still manages to spread the wealth surprisingly well. The Rose Bowl sets up a phenomenal matchup between Ohio State and another blue-blood level program. The Fiesta and Peach Bowls will be a fascinating first test of the auto-bid setup as Clemson faces an opponent projected to finish nine full spots ahead in the final rankings. 

One note: Georgia will land in the Sugar Bowl as the No. 1-seed because of the SEC’s tie-in with the bowl game, regardless of the fact that they would prefer the hometown Peach Bowl. That’s one adjustment for the next two years people will have to bear with as existing bowl contracts wind down. 

Projected semifinals

  • Orange Bowl: (1) Georgia vs. (5) Oregon
  • Cotton Bowl: (2) Ohio State vs. (6) Texas

Analysis: Instead of the seedings, we’re using the rankings for projection. Of course, consider it unlikely that we get this level of chalk with the number of fascinating matchups along the way. Since neither bowl game has a tie-in, Georgia could choose to go to either the Orange or Cotton Bowl, but we’re assuming the slightly closer matchup in Miami, especially since it’s an even further trip for Oregon fans. 

Projected CFP National Championship

  • (1) Georgia vs. (2) Ohio State

Analysis: No. 1 vs. No. 2 reached the CFP National Championship just four times in 10 CFP era title games, but a ‘Dawgs vs. Buckeyes battle in Atlanta would be little surprise after the offseason both put together. Surely Ohio State fans won’t be thrilled to play right in Georgia’s backyard, but it should lead to a banger matchup regardless. 

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