What 12-team College Football Playoff would have looked like in ’23

The College Football Playoff is about to expand to a 12-team field, but that leaves fans in 2023 with one more great “what if?” to answer.

If this year’s college football season had gotten the 12-team treatment, the debate over whether to rank Alabama or Florida State fourth still would have mattered — but it wouldn’t have been a question of in or out.

The new format, as currently constructed, will guarantee the six highest-ranked conference champions will make the field. Then the six highest-ranked remaining teams will round out the field, with teams seeded according to the final CFP rankings.

The top four teams will get a bye in the first round. The fifth through eighth seeds will get to select the host venue for their respective quarterfinal games.

Using the final rankings of the 2023 season released earlier Sunday, the 12-team playoff would have looked like this:

No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 9 Missouri (quarterfinal)

Winner plays No 1. Michigan (first-round bye)

No. 5 Florida State vs. No. 12 Liberty (quarterfinal)

Winner plays No. 4 Alabama (first-round bye)

No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Penn State (quarterfinal)

Winner plays No. 2 Washington (first-round bye)

No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 11 Ole Miss (quarterfinal)

Winner plays No. 3 Texas (first-round bye)

The quarterfinals would create some conference rematches. In the regular season, Ohio State defeated Penn State 20-12 and Georgia demolished Ole Miss 52-17.

There’s also the fascinating case of Florida State against Liberty, two teams that finished the regular season 13-0 with conference titles in the ACC and Conference USA, respectively. In real life, the Seminoles dropped from No. 4 to No. 5 this week despite beating Louisville in the ACC championship game, as the committee determined they were “a different team” without injured quarterback Jordan Travis available.

The first team out? No. 12 Oklahoma. The Sooners would not make the cut as Liberty, the No. 23 team in Sunday’s rankings, would get the 12th seed as the winner of the sixth and final conference champion auto-bid.