College football playoff standings: What a 12-team field looks like now
Halfway through the college football season, we bring you some bad news: if your team has lost two or more games, they’ve likely been knocked out of the four-team college football playoffs. In some cases, if your team has lost a game, it is also difficult to qualify for the playoffs.
The good news? When the playoffs develop soon, your team will still be very much alive to make it into the 12-team group. While under the current four-team format, only around 25-30 teams have realistic CFP hopes, while the extended version gives around 50 teams a path to the playoffs.
The margin of error is much greater in a 12-team playoff. Take, for example, Texas, which lost its two games without injury to starting QB Quinn Ewers. Would the committee leave out an 11-2 or 10-3 Big 12 champion team with a healthy Ewers at QB? It wouldn’t happen. Florida State is on a two-game slide, but in an expanded playoff it would still be in contention. The same goes for countries like Utah, Purdue, Washington State, Florida, Baylor and – gasp! – Our Lady.
All but one of the 12 teams in this week’s fictional squad are undefeated, but that will change in the coming weeks. As a reminder, we are using the CFP executive expansion model adopted in August. It includes (1) automatic qualifiers for the six highest-ranked conference champions and (2) six overall selections for the next six highest-ranked teams. The four highest-ranked conference champions receive second-round byes (independents are not eligible to receive a bye), and all four first-round games are played at the top seed’s campus. . Six bowls host the quarter-finals and semi-finals in a rotation, with teams assigned to their league‘s historical affiliation.
Something to keep in mind: we seed teams based on their performance and who they played against. The tougher your schedule, the better your seed (e.g. Clemson is the No. 1 seed because it beat two ranked teams, one on the road; Ohio State is No. 2 because it didn’t not yet played a team in the current Top 25).
- 1. Clemson (ACC Champion)
- 2. Ohio State (Big Ten champion)
- 3. Alabama (SEC champ)
- 4. USC (Pac 12 champion)
- 5. Georgia (wider SEC)
- 6. Michigan (Big Ten in general)
- 7. Oklahoma State (Big 12 champion)
- 8. Tennessee (SEC at large)
- 9. Penn State (Big Ten in general)
- 10. UCLA (Pac 12 at large)
- 11. TCU (Big 12 in general)
- 12. Cincinnati (American Champion)
The bubble: With TCU’s road win over Kansas last weekend, the Horned Frogs knocked out Ole Miss to take last place in the pool. It was a difficult decision, but broken by schedules. The Rebels’ win over Kentucky, while sold, no longer counts as a top-30 victory after the Wildcats’ loss to South Carolina. So far, TCU’s schedule strength (67th) is tougher than Ole Miss (84th), according to Sagarin’s notes.
UCLA is the other new team this week even though the strength of the Bruins schedule is abysmal (108th). The remaining undefeated Power 5 team we left out is Syracuse, but don’t worry, we’ll soon find out how good or bad the Orange are – their next three games are at NC State, Clemson and the house to welcome Notre Dame. Win two and Dino Babers’ team could find themselves in our playoff simulation.
Smorgasbord of the second round: Of course, the first round produces electric duels on campus. The Big Ten Nittany Lions visit Knoxville, the Big House hosts a snowy game against Sonny Dykes and TCU, and Chip Kelly and the Bruins head to Mike Gundy and the Pokes. Fun! But maybe not as fun as some of the quarterfinal matchups — Georgia takes on USC in the Rose Bowl in a clash of styles that Lincoln Riley has already lost once (Georgia edged Oklahoma, 54-48 in the 2017 Rose Bowl).
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