College Football Playoff Explained

The College Football Playoff began with the 2014-15 season.

The College Football Playoff Board of Managers originally voted in September of 2022 to expand the playoff to 12 teams beginning with the 2026 season, but were able to negotiate with all of the involved parties to begin the expansion with the 2024 campaign.

The 12-team format will feature the five highest-ranked conference champions, plus the next seven highest-ranked teams as determined by the CFP Selection Committee

Here's how the 12-team playoff bracket will work:

The four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four and each will receive a first-round bye, while teams seeded five through 12 will play each other in the first round on the home field of the higher-ranked team. (The team ranked #5 will host #12; team #6 will meet team #11; team #7 will play team #10; and team #8 will meet #9.) The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played in the New Year’s Six bowl games, the national championship game will continue to be at a neutral site. No conference will qualify automatically and there will be no limit on the number of participants from a conference.

The first round is to be concluded by December 21.

After the first round is completed, the field will consist of 8 teams and, for 2024-25, the quarterfinals will be held at the Fiesta, Peach, Rose and Sugar bowls. After those contests, the field will consist of 4 teams and, for 2024-25, the semifinals will be held at the Cotton and Orange bowls.

The championship game will be on January 20, 2025 in Atlanta.

For 2025-26, the quarterfinals will take place at the Cotton, Orange, Rose and Sugar bowls. The semifinals will be held at the Fiesta and Peach bowls. The championship game will be on January 19, 2026 in Miami.

Selection Committee
Warde Manuel (Chair) Mack Rhoades
Chris Ault Mike Riley
Chet Gladchuk David Sayler
Jim Grobe Will Shields
Randall McDaniel Kelly Whiteside
Gary Pinkel Carla Williams
  Hunter Yurachek
Rankings Release Dates
Week 1 November 5
Week 2 November 12
Week 3 November 19
Week 4 November 26
Week 5 December 3
Final December 8 (Selection Sunday)
Playoff Schedule
Season First Round (Campus) Quarterfinals Semifinals Championship
(12 teams)
12/20, 12/21 12/31 Fiesta,
1/1/25 Peach-Rose-Sugar
1/9/25 Orange,
1/10/25 Cotton
1/20/25 Atlanta
(12 teams)
12/19, 12/20 12/31 Orange
1/1/26 Orange-Rose-Sugar
1/8/26 Fiesta
1/9/26 Peach
Miami Gardens

More Specifics of 12-team Schedule

2024 Season
First Round (On-Campus)

  • Friday, 12/20/24: One Game (evening)
  • Saturday, 12/21/24: Three Games in succession


  • Tuesday, 12/31/24: Fiesta (evening)
  • Wednesday, 1/1/25: Peach, Rose, Sugar (in succession)


  • Thursday, 1/9/25: Orange (evening)
  • Friday, 1/10/25: Cotton (evening)

CFP National Championship

  • Monday, 1/20/25: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta

2025 Season
First Round (On-Campus)

  • Friday, 12/19/25: One Game (evening)
  • Saturday, 12/20/25: Three Games in succession


  • Wednesday, 12/31/25: Cotton (evening)
  • Thursday, 1/1, 2026: Orange, Rose, Sugar (in succession)


  • Thursday, 1/8/26: Fiesta (evening)
  • Friday, 1/9/26: Peach (evening)

CFP National Championship

  • Monday, 1/19/26: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens

Exact kickoff times for each game will be announced later.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is wagering on the College Football Playoffs legal?

Following the overturn of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) on May 14, 2018, New Jersey and several other states began offering legal sports wagering to their residents. Multiple states prohibit college football betting on any in-state NCAA team or competition, regardless of the team’s origin. Playoff games are not excepted from their host state's gaming regulations. Official manuals for all three NCAA divisions expressly ban a member institution's athletic department staff, non-athletic staff with responsibilities related to athletic activities, athletic conference staff, and student athletes from knowingly participating in sports wagering activities.

What is the Mission of the Selection Committee?

The CFP Selection Committee ranks the top 25 teams at the end of the season, and the 12 playoff participants consist of the five highest ranked conference champions, plus the next seven highest ranked teams. The four highest ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four and receive a first-round bye. The schools seeded five through eight will host those seeded nine through 12 in first-round games. The quarterfinals and semifinals rotate annually among six bowl games – the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Vrbo Fiesta Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl Game presented by Prudential and the Allstate Sugar Bowl. This year’s quarterfinals will take place on Dec. 31, 2024 and January 1, 2025, while the semifinals will be January 9-10, 2025. The College Football Playoff National Championship will be Monday, January 20, 2025, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Will there be ballot votes to determine the top 12 teams?

The voting process will include a series of ballots through which the committee members first select a pool of teams to be considered, then rank those teams. Individual ballots will be compiled into a composite ranking. Each committee member independently will evaluate an immense amount of information during the process. This evaluation will bring about individual qualitative and quantitative opinions that will lead to each member’s vote.

Will the committee’s deliberations be made public?

The selection committee process will be as transparent as possible, and both the selection committee and management committee will deliberate and determine the most appropriate ways to achieve that. We want to create an arrangement that allows for maximum disclosure, while also allowing the committee to deliberate among themselves in a thoughtful and effective manner. The selection committee will have a structure and a defined set of procedures that will be made available to the public.

How many teams will the selection committee rank?

The committee will rank 25 teams.

Will the selection committee publicize its rankings throughout the 2024 season?

Yes. The committee will meet in person to evaluate teams and prepare interim rankings during the regular season. The committee will issue its first rankings of 2024 on Tuesday, November 5. These interim rankings will provide a measure of transparency and will enable teams and fans to understand the current state of play. The other dates for interim rankings will be Nov. 12, Nov. 19, Nov. 26, and Dec. 3. The final rankings and playoff matchups will be set on Sunday, Dec. 8.

When will the committee meet during the 2024 season? Will they meet in person?

The selection committee will meet in person on Mondays and Tuesdays for six consecutive weeks, beginning in early November.

When will Selection Weekend happen?

The committee’s "selection weekend" will be the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, December 7-8, 2024.

Why are there 13 members of the selection committee?

The number was chosen to allow for good representation, active discussion and differences of views, and to permit decision-making. The management committee feels this is the right size -- not too small or too large.

What criteria were used to choose members of the selection committee?

The top-priority criterion was integrity. There are five categories of individuals: People with experience as (1) coaches, (2) student-athletes, (3) administrators, (4) journalists and also (5) sitting directors of athletics. The management committee gave careful consideration to the standards for membership and to identifying individuals who matched the criteria. Among the other valued attributes were football expertise, objectivity, ability to carefully evaluate and discern information and experience in making decisions under scrutiny. Members were asked to commit significant time to the endeavor.

Why are athletics directors on the committee?

The directors of athletics (ADs) have some of the best institutional knowledge of college football, and the selection committee is much stronger with their participation. Many ADs have careers spanning more than one conference and many have worked at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level as well. The goal was to make the selection committee the best and strongest it can be, which is why ADs are included. Like all selection committee members, ADs will act in the best interest of the game.

is the New Year's Six 'dead"?

The New Year's Six is absorbed into the playoff with four games serving as the quarterfinals and 2 as the quarterfinals . The committee will only select and seed the 12 playoff teams.

Can selection committee members serve more than one term? If so, how many terms are allowed or can they serve forever if they like?

Members will serve one three-year term. Terms shall be staggered to allow for an eventual rotation of members. Until the rotation has been achieved, certain terms may be shorter or longer.

Can a committee member be removed? If so, by whom and for what reasons?

In the unlikely scenario where a committee member is unable to meet the obligations that come with serving on the committee, the management committee would seek a replacement.

Will future chairs be appointed by the management committee or by the members of the selection committee themselves?

The Management Committee selected the first chair of the committee. The selection committee members will select future chairs.

Will the selection committee members be compensated?

No, there will be no compensation for committee members. Expenses will be reimbursed.

Will the committee members travel to games to watch in person?

The members will not be expected to attend games in person. They will be expected to watch video extensively.

What is the role of the chair?

The chair of the selection committee is responsible for the leadership of the committee and will ensure an environment under which the committee members work together to evaluate teams and create rankings. The chair will lead meetings, help set the committee’s agenda, and share spokesperson duties with the executive director of the College Football Playoff. The chair -- and the selection committee itself -- will not be involved in the operation of the playoff; its sole responsibility will be ranking the teams and making the pairings.

What is the role of the College Football Playoff Executive Director and staff as it pertains to the selection committee operations? Is the executive director a voting member?

The executive director will not have a vote, and the College Football Playoff staff’s role will be to provide support to the committee. The executive director and staff will direct the day-to-day business and administrative operations of the playoff itself, in keeping with the objectives established by the board of managers and management committee.

The selection committee is an independent body that will operate according to the objectives established by the board of managers and management committee.

Will committee members have specific assignments, i.e. specific conferences?

Yes, committee members will gather information on conferences and will provide reports on the conferences’ teams to the full committee, but all committee members will be expected to study all teams and be prepared to discern among all the information available, including video, to make evaluations.