College Football Playoff approves 5+7 format and reduces spots for conference champions


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While the four highest-ranked conference champions get a first-round bye, teams seeded fifth through 12th will open the postseason on the home field of the higher-ranked team — No. 5 vs. No. 12; No. 6 vs. No. 11; No. 7 vs. No. 10; and No. 8 vs. No. 9. The first of those four games will be on Dec. 20, a Friday night, with the other three first-round contests played the next day.

New Year’s Six bowl games will host the quarterfinals and semifinal playoff games. The first quarterfinal game next season will be New Year’s Eve in the Fiesta Bowl, followed on New Year’s Day by the Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. The Orange Bowl on Jan. 9, and the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 10, will be the semifinal sites.

The national championship will remain at a neutral site, with next season’s title game Jan. 20 in Atlanta.

The CFP management committee, which is composed of 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, is scheduled to meet in person Wednesday in the Dallas area. Topics could include the still-pending $1.3 billion, six-year deal between ESPN and the CFP that would allow the network to keep exclusive rights to the 12-team playoff through the 2031 season.