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College Football Playoff: Schedule, format, selection, history

Here's everything you need to know about the College Football Playoff, including the new format, dates and schedule for 2024.

What is the College Football Playoff?

The College Football Playoff replaced the Bowl Championship Series (1998-2013) as the system used to determine the annual champion in NCAA football. 

The four teams are officially invited following the regular season and conference championship games. Two semifinal games are played in marquee bowls, followed several days later by the College Football Playoff National Championship game.

The current format of four teams is set through at least this season. The playoff is expanding to eight teams by 2026, but may update as early as the 2024 season. 

The two semifinal games are rotated among six major bowl games, including the Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Peach Bowl. These six bowl games are known as the New Year’s Six and are normally played on or around that day.

When is the 2024 College Football Playoff?

The two national semifinals are set for New Year’s Day, 2024, with the Rose bowl in Pasadena, California at 5.00 pm ET, followed by the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana at 8.00 pm ET. The National Championship game takes place a week later, January 8th, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, and will be televised again by ESPN.  

How are Teams Selected for the College Football Playoff?

A 13-member selection committee, made up of athletic directors, former coaches and players and a former college football reporter that serve three-year terms, release their own Top 25 rankings during the second half of the college football season. 

Rankings are weighted on record, strength of schedule and head-to-head results, with conference championships factoring in at the very end. 

What Schools Have Played in the College Football Playoff?

The Southeastern Conference has dominated the College Football Playoff era. SEC teams have won six championships in the nine seasons the College Football Playoff has been in place, led by Alabama’s three titles. Georgia has won the last two championships and LSU added a title in 2019. 

Clemson has also won the national championship twice during this time, and Ohio State won the first College Football Playoff in 2014. Oklahoma has made the most appearances in the College Football Playoff without winning with four, followed by Notre Dame and Michigan with two appearances each. 

Oregon and TCU were runners up in their sole appearances, while Florida State, Michigan State, Washington and Cincinnati all lost in the semifinal of their lone College Football Playoff appearance.

Georgia defeated TCU, 65-7, to win last year’s national championship.   

College Football Playoff Results

The championship game has been a yawner the past five years, with the champion winning by an average of 29 points. The semifinals have included several blowouts as well. Below is a list of champions, runners-up and semifinal results for the previous nine College Football Playoff competitions.

YearChampionRunner-UpScoreSemifinals Results
2022-23Georgia (15-0)TCU65-7TCU def. Michigan, 51-45; Georgia def. Ohio State, 42-41
2021-22Georgia (14-1)Alabama33-18Alabama def. Cincinnati, 27-6; Georgia def. Michigan, 34-11 
2020-21Alabama (13-0)Ohio State52-24Alabama def. Notre Dame, 31-14; Ohio State def. Clemson, 49-28
2019-20LSU (15-0)Clemson42-25LSU def. Oklahoma, 63-28; Clemson def. Ohio State, 29-23
2018-19Clemson (15-0)Alabama44-16Alabama def. Oklahoma, 45-34, Clemson def. Notre Dame, 30-3
2017-18Alabama (13-1)Georgia26-23 (OT)Georgia def. Oklahoma, 54-48 (OT); Alabama def. Clemson, 24-6
2016-17Clemson (14-1)Alabama35-31Alabama def. Washington, 24-7; Clemson def. Ohio State, 31-0
2015-16Alabama (14-1)Clemson45-40Clemson def. Oklahoma, 37-17; Alabama def. Michigan State, 38-0
2014-15Ohio State (14-1)Oregon42-20Oregon def. Florida State, 59-20; Ohio State def. Alabama, 42-35

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