College Football Playoff rankings: Who would be alive in a 12-team format?

“I think the overall size and value of the sport is diminished by inviting four teams.”

Here’s a quote from FOX Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt about college football’s current four-team playoff format, which is slated to expand to 12 teams as early as 2024 and no later late 2026.

Klatt, who will call Saturday’s USC-UCLA Pac-12 matchup alongside Gus Johnson and Jenny Taft (8 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), has been a strong advocate of expanding the the CFP, so when the news came back in September. 2 that the CFP Board of Directors had approved a 12-team model, he was happy.

“This move will help the sport get to a place where it can be the best it can be,” Klatt said when the news was announced.

The main reason expansion is vitally important to the sport is parity, but it also means more teams will be playing meaningful games come mid-November.

In fact, if the 12-team playoff format were currently in play heading into Week 12 of this season, there would be 33 teams still alive in the College Football Playoff race. That’s more than 25% of the Division I programs that would still have a chance to play on college football’s biggest stage.

“This has to happen, and it has to happen tomorrow because we currently have a total of eight teams that can possibly go to the playoff,” Klatt said on a recent episode of his podcast, “The Joel Klatt Show.” “It’s undermining the way we watch college football and the way we enjoy college football.”

12-team playoff: What would it mean for the regular season?

12-team playoff: What would it mean for the regular season?

Joel Klatt discusses what would happen if there was a 12-team playoff today.

Here’s a look at the 33 teams that would still have a chance in the CFP if there was a 12-team playoff format this season.

Note: Under the Format of 12 teamsthe six highest-ranked conference champions by the committee, with no minimum seeding requirement would earn bids, as well as the six highest-ranked teams not among the conference champions.

* Would be competing for an at-large bid.


Georgia Bulldogs (10-0, 7-0)
LSU Tigers (8-2, 6-1)
*Tennessee Volunteers (9-1, 5-1)
*Alabama Crimson Tide (8-2, 5-2)
*Ole Miss (8-2, 4-2)

Klatt’s take: “For Alabama, granted you’re not trying to play a meaningful game anyway because Austin Peay is coming to town, but at least you’d be playing meaningful games.”

ten grand

Michigan (10-0, 7-0)
Ohio State (10-0, 7-0)
Illinois (7-3, 4-3)
Iowa (6-4, 4-3)
Minnesota (7-3, 4-3)
Purdue (6-4, 4-3)
Wisconsin (5-5, 3-4)
*Penn State (8-2, 5-2)

Klatt Dam: “The best of them all, at least in my estimation, is Penn State. This is a two-loss team that is completely out of their division run because they’ve lost to two of the top three teams in the entire country in Michigan and Ohio State, and now they’re playing for nothing. They would if there was a 12-team playoff.”

big 12

TCU (10-0, 7-0)
Kansas State (7-5, 5-2)
Baylor (6-4, 4-3)
Kansas (6-4, 3-4)
Oklahoma State (7-3, 4-3)
Texas (6-4, 4-3)
Texas Tech (5-5, 3-4)

Klatt Dam: “You think about Kansas and how they were this incredible story early on, and then they went by the wayside. Why? Because we have a subjective four-team invite and not a postseason that expands to be a point where we can have a -Definite path for conference champions.”


USC (9-1, 7-1)
Utah (8-2, 6-1)
UCLA (8-2, 5-2)
Washington (8-2, 5-2)

Klatt Dam: “This weekend, when you have Utah against Oregon … and then all of a sudden when you look at Oregon’s loss to Washington, you think ‘well, this game has lost all its luster.’ Now, nobody’s focused on that Utah will go up against Oregon. Well, in this model, it still means everything because a postseason berth is on the line.”


Clemson (9-1, 7-0)
UNC (9-1, 6-0)
*Florida State (7-3, 5-3)

Klatt Dam: “Clemson and North Carolina have already locked up their spots in the ACC Championship Game, so they would still be alive.”


*Our Lady (7-3)

Klatt Dam: “Think about how big the Notre Dame vs. USC game would be for both teams in a 12-team playoff? This has to happen.”

Group of 5

UCF (8-2, 5-1)
Coastal Carolina (9-1, 6-1)
Cincinnati (8-2, 5-1)
Tulane (8-2, 5-1)

Klatt Dam: “I came up with four teams that I think, based on where they’re ranked right now and the way the committee sees them, would easily be a top-six champion if they won their conference, and maybe two. Top-six.”

Read more:

Each week, FOX Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt dives into his top 10 teams, answers questions and discusses college football’s biggest stories on his podcast. Download “The Joel Klatt Show” here.

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