College Football Playoff Releases 12-Team Schedule

The expanded College Football Playoff now has a schedule. The first of the 11 games will be played on Friday, December 20, and the game for the national championship will be played one month later on Monday, January 20.

The top five conference champions in the CFP rankings will automatically qualify for the end of season playoff, with the other seven selections going to the highest-ranked teams that aren’t conference champions. The top four conference champions will receive first-round byes, and the teams ranked fifth through eighth will host games that first weekend of play.

The first of those four games takes place on December 20, and the other three games will be played on Saturday, December 21.

The CFP quarterfinals will take place over New Year’s, and will be played at traditional New Year’s Day bowl sites. On Tuesday, December 31, the first quarterfinal will be played at the Fiesta Bowl, and on Wednesday, January 1, we will have games at the Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl, and Sugar Bowl.

The four teams that receive a bye to this round will try to be assigned to their traditional bowl game, including the Big Ten champion to the Rose Bowl and the SEC champion to the Sugar Bowl, if possible.

This first year of the 12-team College Football Playoff will play one semifinal at the Orange Bowl on Thursday, January 9, and the other at the Cotton Bowl on January 10. Then, 10 days later, on Monday, January 20, the national champion will be crowned at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Favorites to Win College Football Playoff 2024-25

Georgia (+320)

The Georgia Bulldogs missed the College Football Playoff last year, but they were the national champions after the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The offensive line in Athens will be one of the best in the country, and after a 13-1 season as the replacement to Stetson Bennett, Carson Beck is back at quarterback. He’s the current Heisman Trophy favorite at +750.

Most of the players from their national championship seasons are gone. But the Bulldogs reload every year, and they are the deserved favorites in the preseason.

Ohio State (+400)

Ohio State was also absent from last year’s CFP, a year after they made the national semifinals. Ohio State’s inclusion in these rankings is because they are always good, but also because their nemesis at Michigan, Jim Harbaugh, left Ann Arbor for the NFL.

Will Howard was pushed to the backup quarterback role at Kansas State by the end of last season, and he is now the starting QB in Columbus. He is +1400 to win the Heisman, which ranks him fifth in the country.

Texas (+750)

Last year, Texas made its first trip to the College Football Playoff, losing to Washington in the Sugar Bowl. But the Longhorns made a game of it, following up on their first Big 12 championship in 15 years.

Quinn Ewers was 24-of-43 for 318 yards and a touchdown, adding 54 yards on the ground, and he is back under center in 2024. Ewers is second on the Heisman Trophy odds board, paying +800.

Oregon (+850)

Bo Nix is now a Denver Bronco, but the new Oregon quarterback, Dillon Gabriel, has a college football history of experience and success. He played three seasons at the University of Central Florida, two seasons at Oklahoma, and last year he was All-Big 12 first team. His 152 career touchdowns ranks fourth in NCAA history.

Oregon has made the move to the Big Ten this season, and bookmakers and the betting public have high expectations.

Alabama (+1400)

Nick Saban is gone, as are most of the other coaches and 30 scholarship players from the Alabama team that lost in the Rose Bowl to Michigan. But the Crimson Tide roll on, and new head coach Kalen DeBoer was just coaching for a national championship five months ago with Washington.

Alabama is also getting a second season out of quarterback Jalen Milroe, who was second-team All-SEC last season. For this season, Milroe is +1000 to win the Heisman Trophy.

Notre Dame and Michigan (+2500)

Outside of the top five — but worth noting — are Notre Dame and Michigan, both paying +2500 to win the College Football Playoff. Michigan has been in the CFP in each of the previous three years, and were the champions last year. They are led this year by first-time head coach Sherrone Moore.

Notre Dame is 0-2 in two CFP appearances, with the last coming in 2020. But with a 2024 schedule that only has two teams from last year’s final AP Top 25, they are set up to be a 10 or 11-win team, and in this year’s playoff. After three seasons at Duke, Riley Leonard is the quarterback in South Bend, and he is paying +2500 to win the Heisman.

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