Way-too-early projection for 12-team 2024 College Football Playoff

Looking ahead to the first 12-team playoff in college football, we projected what the first expanded College Football Playoff field will look like.
Dec 30, 2023; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart reacts after defeating
Dec 30, 2023; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart reacts after defeating / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2024 college football season will be unlike any other. Not only is the College Football Playoff expanding to 12 teams, but the Big Ten and SEC will also be adding powerhouse programs.

Oregon, Washington, USC, and UCLA will be joining the Big Ten. That gives the Big Ten five top-15 teams in the final AP poll. The SEC will be adding Texas and Oklahoma to their stacked roster of teams and even though Alabama has a new head coach, the league shouldn't drop off at all.

The top five ranked conference champions are guarnateed entry into the College Football Playoff this season and looking ahead to next December, here's our way-too-early projection of what the 12-team College Football Playoff will look like.

First-round byes: Georgia, Oregon, Florida State, and Kansas State

Remember that Notre Dame isn't eligible for a first-round bye. Those go to the top-four ranked conference champions. It seems like that will be Georgia, Florida State, Kansas State, and I'm going with Oregon to win the Big Ten title.

Ohio State seems to be the favorite, but I'd take Dillon Gabriel over Will Howard. I also don't see much talent difference between Oregon and Ohio State, but I'd take Dan Lanning. I see Oregon tripping up at Michigan but can also see the Buckeyes ending their losing streak to Michigan.

It's hard to say how that tiebreaker works out. I could also see Michigan losing two conference games, but think the Wolverines will be good enough to make the College Football Playoff. I also see Oregon knocking off Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.

Florida State and Kansas State feel like the class of the ACC and Big 12. The Wildcats, especially with Arizona looking weakened after the loss of their head coach, have a favorable schedule and an 11 or 12-win season is possible.

First-round College Football Playoff matchups (on campus)

No. 12 Liberty at No. 5 Ohio State

The Buckeyes are going to have one of the best defenses in college football. Will Howard is a solid quarterback and if Ryan Day can lean into running the football more, this team could be dangerous come the College Football Playoff. Jamey Chadwell's Liberty squad posted a 13-1 record this past season and returns starting quarterback Kaidon Salter.

Prediction: Ohio State

No. 11 Penn State at No. 6 Texas

Penn State has a favorable schedule and if the Nittany Lions can win in Morgantown in Week 1, even a loss to Ohio State shouldn't prevent a 10-win season. There could be some debate about a lack of quality wins, but I'm going to put the Nittany Lions in the field. However, Quinn Ewers and company, fresh off an SEC championship game loss to Georgia, will eliminate them.

Prediction: Texas

No. 10 Ole Miss at No. 7 Notre Dame

Both of these clubs have favorable schedules. Ole Miss is building a dominant defense, plus the Rebels return starting quarterback Jaxson Dart. They did lose star running back Quinshon Judkins, but the Rebels are a legit SEC squad. Notre Dame is talented too. Riley Leonard was a big-time addition via the transfer portal. If the Irish just hold serve at home next season, they will be in the playoff. Yet, it will be Lane Kiffin's crew moving on.

Prediction: Ole Miss

No. 9 Michigan at No. 8 LSU

This is just one example of why college football fans will and TV executives will love the College Football Playoff. Garrett Nussmeier should keep the LSU offense rolling for Brian Kelly and company. The Tigers also play most of their tough games at home. Michigan is losing a lot and could be losing head coach Jim Harbaugh. However, the offensive line is going to be stellar again, even after losing all of its starters and the defensive line might be the best in college football. That and a breakout season from Donovan Edwards will get U-M back to the College Football Playoff. And I'll give the defending national champs the edge.

Prediction: Michigan