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Report: CFP will Expand to 12 Teams in 2026

The College Football Playoff board of managers have decided to expand the playoffs to 12 teams in 2026, according to a report by ESPN’s Pete Thamel. 2026 is the expected date because it’s when the current contract expires, but that could change provided the board can work through some complications.

Thamel’s report doesn’t indicate how the 12 teams will be decided or how the structure of the bracket will be. It’s been argued that an expansion of the playoffs should also include an automatic bid for each of the power-five conference champions and perhaps the highest ranked group of five school.

Though with conference realignment set to skyrocket the SEC and Big 10 far above the remaining conferences, it’s unclear if automatic bids would be something the board would want to pursue.

Currently a committee that’s selected by the board ranks the teams 1-25 with the top four teams getting a spot in the College Football Playoff. If the board decides to just stick with the committee’s rankings, then the top 12 teams would go.

Last year that would’ve been No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 Cincinnati, No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 7 Baylor, No. 8 Ole Miss, No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Michigan State, No. 11 Utah and No. 12 Pittsburgh.

The New Year’s Six bowls are rotated yearly for the two that get to host the first round of the College Football Playoff. Those bowls are the Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. Last year the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl where the playoff games. This year, it’ll be the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl. It’s expected that they will keep the New Year’s Six as the College Football Playoff games.

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