College Football Playoff bracket: Here’s what a 12-team playoff would look like after Week 10

By | November 8, 2022

There are four remaining undefeated teams after Clemson and Tennessee went down last Saturday. Soon enough, however, one loss will not mean you need to fret about your spot in the college football playoff. When the field expands to 12 teams, most one-loss Power 5 teams will feel pretty safe about their standing.

Starting possibly in 2024 or 2025, but definitely by 2026, there will be a 12-team playoff in place. The four top teams may still end up in the semifinals, but the field will give more teams realistic chances to make the single-elimination field late in the regular season and set up more win-or-go-home games.

MORE: Latest College Football Playoff rankings

What a 12-team playoff bracket would look like

A 12-team field would consist of the six highest rated conference champions and the six highest-rated at-large teams. The format most discussed would feature a first-round bye for the top four seeds and the first-round games to be held on campus. The top four seeds would be the four highest rated conference champions.

MORE: Week 11 picks against the spread | Heisman race | Bowl projections

So what would the bracket look like if the field was unveiled today?

Here would be the first-round matchups:

No. 12 Tulane at No. 5 Michigan
In the old days, Big Ten teams would have to go to New Orleans for big postseason games. The reverse would be true in the 12-team format, as Tulane brings stout defense to challenge the powerful Michigan rushing attack. Wolverines would be a rather large favorite.

Winner plays: vs. No. 4 seed Oregon

No. 11 Ole Miss at No. 6 Tennessee
Put away the mustard bottles! Lane Kiffin comes back to Neyland Stadium for an SEC matchup that wouldn’t be an SEC rematch. It was wild when these two hooked up last year. Add a win-or-go-home situation and the atmosphere in Knoxville would be off the charts.

Winner plays: vs. No. 3 seed TCU

No. 10 Clemson at No. 7 LSU
Winner gets to be ‘Death Valley U’! Mike the Tiger takes on Hobbs for some beautiful Tiger on Tiger postseason football. This would be a slugfest between two physical teams. Winner gets to participate in a track meet with Ohio State.

Winner plays: vs. No. 2 seed Ohio State

No. 9 Alabama at No. 8 USC
Who doesn’t sign up for this matchup? The beauty of the 12-team field means the Tide can lose on the last play of the game twice, but we still get to see Bryce Young compete for a national championship. Nick Saban and Lincoln Riley hooked up in a 2018 semifinal (won by Saban). This time, Riley would be on his home turf.

Winner plays: vs. No. 1 seed Georgia

Seeds for a 12-team playoff

The list of 1-12 would be as follows based on today’s rankings and conference standings.

No. 1 seed – Georgia (9-0)

The Bulldogs left no doubt who is boss with a dominating 27-13 win over Tennessee last Saturday. Georgia built a 24-6 halftime lead and played keep away in the second half against the power Volunteers offense. Georgia had uneven performances against Missouri and Kent State, but on this season’s biggest state, they showed up in a big way.

No. 2 seed Ohio State (9-0)

Saturday’s 21-7 win at Northwestern will not be remembered when fans look back at the 2022 Ohio State season, at least the Buckeyes hope that is the case. Playing in difficult windy and rainy conditions, Ohio State’s offense looked nothing like the well-oiled machine it has looked for the past five years. The offensive performance – 283 total yards, 21 points – was an aberration, though the Buckeyes may need to handle challenging weather conditions much better in the season finale against Michigan.

No. 3 seed TCU (9-0)

The No. 4 seed is an underdog to a three-loss team this week, but Texas is going to Texas. The Frogs have needed four second-half comebacks this season, the latest being Saturday’s rally vs. Texas Tech. Quarterback Max Duggan ranks fourth in the nation in passer rating behind CJ Stround, Drake Maye and Hendon Hooker.

No. 4 seed Oregon (8-1)

Make it eight straight wins and eight straight lopsided wins (all by 15 points) for the Ducks, who got created in a 49-10 blowout of Colorado. An offensive lineman and a quarterback caught touchdowns and a linebacker rushed for one, just to keep things interesting. Quarterback Bo Nix has three straight games where he has accounted for at least five touchdowns. How forgiving will the committee be down the line of that Opening Day clunker in Atlanta against Georgia?

No. 5 seed Michigan (9-0)

Like Ohio State, Michigan struggled against an inferior opponent in the first half on Saturday. Unlike Ohio State, Michigan snapped out of it and routed Rutgers 52-17 on the strength of a 28-0 third quarter. Michigan is the only team not to trail in the fourth quarter this season and has not trailed in the final 23 minutes of any game. Home games with Nebraska and Illinois precede the Everything Bowl in Columbus.

No. 6 seed Tennessee (8-1)

Tennessee’s reign atop the college football world did not last long. The Vols forced an early Georgia fumble and went up 3-0, but it was all downhill from there. The Georgia defense harassed quarterback Hendon Hooker into his worst game of the season and now Tennessee knows it close out as a heavy favorite against Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt and then hope to hear its name called on Selection Sunday.

No. 7 seed LSU (7-2)

A two-loss playoff team? LSU is trying to become the first and took a step in that direction with Saturday’s upset of Alabama. In a game that saw the lead change hands eight times in the second half, LSU had the final knockout punch when Jayden Daniels found Mason Taylor for a two-point conversion in overtime. Arkansas, UAB, Texas A&M and an SEC championship date with Georgia give the Tigers a shot at 11-2 and a very interesting playoff resume.

MORE: Brian Kelly’s gutsy call goes down in Death Valley lore

No. 8 seed USC (8-1)

The Trojans are set up for a very high-profile finish to the schedule, which will held quarterback Caleb Williams’ Heisman campaign and the Trojans’ playoff push. After an expected breather with Colorado this week, USC will face UCLA and Notre Dame, and then possibly Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game. If they get through that gauntlet at 12-1, they will have a resume that will stack up with any one-loss candidate.

No. 9 seed Alabama (7-2)

Alabama’s bid for a third straight appearance in the College Football Playoff was derailed in Baton Rouge last week, but the Tide would still be alive in a 12-team field and still a threat to win the national championship due to its deep roster and Hall of Fame coach. But there are issues this season, penalties and the lack of game-changing wide receivers, and those issues will be put to the test once again this week against a strong Ole Miss team still alive in the SEC West race.

MORE: Looking at issues plaguing Crimson Tide

No. 10 seed Clemson (8-1)

Clemson dropped six spots after losing to Notre Dame, but it would be solidly in the field if there was a 12-team bracket. The Tigers had several close calls before the one-sided loss to the Irish, and it was punished accordingly. Clemson has a chance for one more marquee win against North Carolina in the ACC championship game, but it won’t be enough in a four-team field.

No. 11 seed Ole Miss (8-1)

The Rebels enjoyed an off week before hosting Alabama in a big SEC West showdown. Ole Miss was 3-0 last season and went into Tuscaloosa ranked No. 12 and were blown out 42-21. This one will be in Oxford, and it is one Ole Miss needs to win if it wants to stay in New Year’s Six consideration.

No. 12 seed Tulane (8-1)

Tulane has the pole position for a New Year’s Six berth this year and would be on track for the 12-seed in a future 12-team bracket, but the Green Wave have plenty of work to do to get there. UCF, SMU and Cincinnati, the second-, third- and fourth-place teams in the American await to close the regular season, and then the ACC championship game. If quarterback Michael Pratt and Co. survive that gauntlet, it will have certainly earned its spot as the Group of Five’s top team.