Clemson Football: If the preseason AP Top 25 is used to fill the 12-team playoff

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 10: The Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Georgia Bulldogs during the College Football Playoff Championship held at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 10: The Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Georgia Bulldogs during the College Football Playoff Championship held at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /
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This is the final year of the four-team College Football Playoff. While Clemson Football most certainly will need to win the Atlantic Coast Conference to qualify in 2023 (and possibly go undefeated), there will be more spots available in 2024 and beyond.

Right now, the 12-team CFP isn’t just the highest-ranked twelve teams by the CFP committee. As it stands today, the model is a 6+6. The top six conference champions qualify automatically. The other six are at-large bids.

Additionally, the top four conference champions will get a bye into the quarterfinals. The next four highest seeds will host a first-round contest in their home stadium (or an alternate location of their choosing).

If the 12-team playoff format was put into use right now based on the preseason AP Top 25 poll, this is what it would look like.

Top six conference champions:

  • Georgia (SEC): earns a bye into the quarterfinals
  • Michigan (Big Ten): earns a bye into the quarterfinals
  • USC (PAC-12): earns a bye into the quarterfinals
  • Florida State (ACC): earns a bye into the quarterfinals
  • Texas (Big 12)
  • Tulane (AAC)

The top six at large candidates would be:

  • Ohio State: earns home game in first-round
  • Alabama: earns home game in first-round
  • LSU: earns home game in first-round
  • Penn State: earns home game in first-round
  • Clemson
  • Washington

The first-round matchups would be (seeding in parentheses):

(12) Tulane at (5) Ohio State – I love Tulane, but this would be a huge spread in Tuscaloosa in an actual playoff game.

(11) Texas at (6) Alabama – This would be a rematch of the regular season contest.

(10) Washington at (7) LSU – Probably a night game in December in Baton Rouge.

(9) Clemson at (8) Penn State – Wow. Beaver Stadium. I could see a whiteout. Do I mean the crowd or the weather? The answer is both, but this would be why the playoffs were expanded. I don’t think most pundits would give either Penn State or Clemson much of a chance to win a national championship if these were the final seedings, but this is a game most people would love to see in December.

Clemson Football could renew the rivalry with Georgia in this playoff scenario

The Rose and the Sugar host the semifinals for the CFP in 2023. In real life, the other four NY6 will host bowl games. In the new format, an NY6 that isn’t hosting a semifinal will be hosting a quarterfinal.

I could only guess as to locations, but this is the most likely placements for the quarters:

Peach Bowl: Winner of Clemson/Penn State vs (1) Georgia – Penn State against Georgia would be fun. Clemson against Georgia would continue the rivalry.

Cotton Bowl: Winner of Washington/LSU vs (2) Michigan – Dallas is slightly closer than Miami, so I think Michigan ends up at the Cotton, but it could be the Orange.

Fiesta Bowl: Winner of Texas/Alabama vs (3) USC – Lincoln Riley against Nick Saban would be cool, but imagine Caleb Williams vs Quinn Ewers, especially if both were Heisman finalists.

Orange Bowl: Winner of Tulane/Ohio State vs (4) Florida State – The Seminoles have the Orange Bowl where they likely face Ohio State.

I would assume the winners of the Peach and Orange meet in the Sugar Bowl, and the winners of the Fiesta and Cotton go to the Rose Bowl.

Due to the demise of the PAC-12, the conferences have been bantering the possibility of changing the 6+6 format to either a 5+7 or just removing automatic bids altogether. Time will tell if that occurs before the 12-team playoff is instituted for real in 2024.

Next. Clemson Tigers News: Sammy Brown, AP Top 25 and scoreboard. dark