Change is coming to the College Football Playoff in a big way next season. The postseason tournament will grow from four teams to 12, though the format may undergo some changes before kickoff of the 2023-24 campaign.
As of now, the 12 teams in the bracket will include the six highest-rated conference champions, according to the CFP Rankings, and the next six highest-ranked programs. The top four conference champions will get byes into the quarterfinals.
There is a legitimate chance that format will be adjusted to account for the demise of the Pac-12. That could result in something as simple as guaranteeing playoff spots for only the top five conference champions (with seven at-large bids) or something more drastic, such as doing away with automatic qualifiers entirely.
The first round of the expanded playoff will be played at the home sites of the higher-ranked team in each matchup (or a site of the higher-ranked team's choosing). For example, if Purdue was to host a first-round game (a guy can dream, right?), the Boilermakers could choose to host at Ross-Ade Stadium or perhaps Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
In the spirit of looking ahead -- continuing this week through the conclusion of the season -- I will also be projecting the 12-team CFP bracket based on my projected conference champions and the current rankings for at-large teams. As the CFP Rankings will not be released until Halloween, the AP Top 25 will serve as the barometer for at-large teams at this juncture.
There are a couple of changes from last week's projection. It is a rare occasion when I do not have Alabama projected in the current format of the CFP, but now, the Crimson Tide are not even projected in a 12-team playoff. Their drop to No. 13 in the AP Top 25 has them out of this projection -- for now. Alabama hosts No. 17 Ole Miss this week in a crucial game for both teams' postseason hopes.
Tennessee, a loser at Florida last Saturday, is also out of this week's projection. That leaves the SEC with only one team in the projected 12-team playoff, which seems unimaginable.
Oregon and Utah have moved up, giving the Pac-12 four teams in this week's bracket. All four are slotted to play in different quarterfinal games. The Big Ten has three teams and is the only other conference with multiple teams in the bracket.
Let's take a look at how the 12-team playoff would look through three full weeks of the 2023 season.
* Projected conference champions