Ohio State, Colorado Drawing Attention As New College Football Playoff Format Looms

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Calls to expand the College Football Playoff field have been answered. Beginning this season, the number of schools vying for the title will increase from four to 12. Adding to the changes across the college football landscape is the conference realignment that went into effect on July 1, with all but two Pac-12 teams departing for other conferences.

Since the CFP format began with the 2014-15 campaign, it has been pretty clear heading into each season that powerhouse schools would snag the spots. The big powers will still be there among the qualifiers,. However, the stage is now set for a chase that will include a much larger pool of potential contenders for college football sportsbooks to track.

Ohio State, Colorado lines drawing attention this offseason

As this college football season moves along, more teams than ever will be in the playoff hunt. In recent campaigns, each release of the CFP poll had only a few questions to answer. The nation’s top programs were clearly going to comprise the field; it was just a matter of the order in which they would land. 

Additional teams in the hunt translate into even more meaningful games down the stretch. By extension, there could be increased betting interest for the season as a whole.

Recently, BetMGM Sportsbook provided some preseason College Football Playoff betting insight:   

For bettors, increased attention could lead to even more odds movement for both the weekly games and futures betting. Meanwhile, the postseason as a whole could improve with the addition of more high-stakes games.    

In recent seasons, there has been a growing trend of players skipping bowl games to prepare for the NFL Draft. The end result has been an even more unpredictable postseason, and also a less compelling product due to the lack of star power.   

While we can’t guarantee that won’t happen for College Football Playoff games as well, we will have a much clearer picture of which games will feature two teams that are completely vested.

The new CFP format explained 

Twelve teams will qualify for the College Football Playoff. While the field has expanded, the selection committee’s power has not diminished. As has been the case since its introduction, the panel will begin releasing its rankings in the latter part of the season. The CFP committee’s first of six rankings for this season are expected on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The top 12 teams on the final list will qualify for the playoff. No conference is guaranteed entry. The format will see the five highest-ranked conference champions receive a spot, then the next seven highest-ranked clubs

The four highest-ranked conference champions will receive a bye through the first round. Seeds No. 5-12 will meet in first-round matchups, with the lower-seeded team hosting on campus at their home stadiums. 

The winners of those games will advance to the quarterfinals, which will be at the following traditional bowl game venues for this season: Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl, and Sugar Bowl. Teams will not be re-seeded based on the results of previous rounds.  

College Football Playoff schedule

The expansion of the postseason translates into the college football campaign extending further into January. 

All told, it’s now 11 games to decide a champion, plus many more teams in the mix for playoff spots as the college football season plays out. 

Ohio State, Georgia top favorites to reach the CFP

College football odds are available for which teams will make the playoffs. Here are the current FanDuel Sportsbook lines for the top 25 contenders.    

Team ConferenceOdds
1. Ohio StateBig Ten-650
2. GeorgiaSEC-550
3. OregonBig Ten-280
4. TexasSEC-230
5. Notre Dame Independent-170
6. Penn State Big Ten-145
7. Ole MissSEC-125
8. Michigan Big Ten+115
9. AlabamaSEC+120
10. LSUSEC+125
11. Florida State ACC+160
12. TennesseeSEC+170
13. MissouriSEC+180
14. ClemsonACC+200
15. MiamiACC+210
16. Texas A&MSEC+260
17. Utah Big 12+260
18. Kansas StateBig 12+310
19. USCBig Ten+410
20. NC StateACC+470
21. LouisvilleACC+490
22. OklahomaSEC+500
23. LibertyConference USA+500
24. Boise StateMountain West+500
25. MemphisAmerican+600

In the latest College Football Playoff national championship odds, Georgia is the favorite to win the title, followed by Ohio State, Texas, and Oregon. Those four teams also top the board in odds of receiving an invite, with the Buckeyes the top overall favorite. 

The SEC and Big Ten have dominated the CFP era, with eight of 10 national titles since 2014, and have also produced the last five national champions. The SEC accounts for nine of the teams on the above table, while the Big Ten checks in with five. 

The ACC also has five squads, and the Big 12 has two. The remaining four spots belong to independent Notre Dame, with three smaller conference teams — Liberty, Boise State, and Memphis — closing out the list.    

What would a 12-team CFP field have looked like last season? 

Last season, Michigan, Washington, Texas, and Alabama made up the four-team field, with the Wolverines taking the national title. If the new format had been in place, those four squads would still have had the top four seeds as the highest-ranked conference champions. The first-round matchups would have looked like this: 

Seeds five through 11 correlate perfectly with the final CFP rankings for last year. Oklahoma was ranked 12th, but it would have missed out in favor of 23rd-ranked Liberty, the winner of Conference USA. 

The new format calls for the five highest-ranked conference champs to qualify. After the top four seeds, Liberty was the next champion on the list. Seeds five through 22 were all from the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Big 12, or Pac-12, with independent Notre Dame the lone exception.