Everything You Need to Know About the College Football Playoffs

The traditional BCS National Championship has been done away with. The top teams in the nation will have to prove themselves past their perfect (or near-perfect seasons) in a four-team playoff. These four teams will be chosen by a selection committee, which will evaluate a team’s strength of schedule, head-to-head results, championships won, by comparing their results against common opponents, and by other unnamed factors according to the College Football Playoff website

The playoffs will be a test of endurance for fans with back-to-back triple-headers. Two semifinal games and four other “premier” bowl games will be played on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The committee plans to rotate the semifinal games among the six different bowls to allow more fans to partake in the experience. The plan is to have the championship game on a Monday night every year. Each FBS team will have an equal opportunity to qualify for the playoffs based on their performance; there will not be any automatic qualifications. Unsurprisingly, the committee expects this new format to generate more revenue for all the conferences (and they even mention independent institutions).

The Orange Bowl (ACC against highest ranked team from SEC, Big Ten, and Notre Dame), Rose Bowl (Big Ten and Pac-12), and Sugar Bowl (SEC and Big 12) are outside the playoff arrangement. If a conference champion qualifies for the Playoff, a replacement team from that conference is chosen to play in the bowl game. The Fiesta, Cotton, and Peach Bowls will host displaced the displaced conference champions and the top ranked champion from a non-contract conference. The other highest rated teams will fill other openings and pairings will be made by the selection committee.

Rankings will be released on the following dates:

  • October 28 – 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN (First set of rankings released)
  • November 4 – 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN (Second set of rankings released)
  • November 11 – 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN
  • November 18 – 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2
  • November 25 – 6 p.m. CT on ESPN
  • December 2 – 6 p.m. CT on ESPN
  • December 7 – 11:45 a.m. CT on ESPN (Selection Day and Playoff Semifinal teams announced)

The selection committee will announce the Playoff Semifinal pairings and the semifinal bowl announcements live on ESPN at 11:45am CT on December 7. The Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach Bowl pairings will be announced at 1:45pm CT, as well as the top 25 rankings. The Orange Bowl matchup will also be announced that day. It may be even more exciting than draft day, especially if Notre Dame is a top contender.

As of October 28 (the first released rankings), Notre Dame was ranked 10th, behind TCU, Michigan State and Kansas State. Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn, Ole Miss and Oregon held the top 5 spots will Alabama sitting satisfyingly in 6th place.

As of the most recent rankings, released on November 4, Notre Dame remains in 10th place, behind Arizona State, which makes this weekend’s game crucial. Ole Miss fell to 11th place, after losing to Auburn. Mississippi State, Florida State and Auburn have remained in the top three spots, with Oregon and Alabama rounding out the top 5. TCU, Kansas State and Michigan hold spots 6 through 8. Five weeks remain until the final rankings are announced. Be sure to check each Tuesday to see how Notre Dame is advancing in the College Football Playoff Rankings!

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