Big Ten And SEC The Big Winners in the New CFP Format

New NCAAF playoff format advantages favors the top two conferences

Conference Realignment to Impact the College Football Playoff Field

There were many questions about what the new 12-team format for the College Football Playoff would look like as the Pac-12 as we knew and loved it is about to cease to exist. That is shaking up the sports betting world.

With five conference champions earning automatic spots, who will benefit the most when it comes to the new NCAAF playoff format advantages?

While there are those in power at the NCAA and at ESPN who seemingly would be okay with the College Football Playoff turning into the Big Ten-SEC challenge, that is not how things will be starting out.

Despite not being one of the four teams invited into the most recent College Football Playoff, Georgia is the current favorite at +330 in the odds to win the national title followed by Ohio State at +480 and Texas is at +750 as the Longhorns move from the Big 12 to the SEC.

A Look At the Format

If the Pac-12 had survived the conference realignment carousel, it would not have been a surprise to see the teams from the five highest-rated conferences earn automatic spots into the College Football Playoff.

However, the announcement that there will be five automatic bids and seven at-large teams leaves it up for debate about which conferences (other than the star-studded SEC and Big Ten) will emerge when it comes to the new NCAAF playoff format advantages.

The wording of the change in format said the five highest-rated conferences would have the champion earning a spot in the field. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the ACC and Big 12 champions will be the ones getting those spots. The Big 12 is particularly watered down with the impending departures of Oklahoma and Texas.

In the 2023 Sagarin Ratings, the Power-5 conferences were the top five in the rankings. However, if you remove Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12, the Big 12 might come perilously close to where the Sun Belt and the Mountain West fell in the final conference pecking order. The ACC was also far from its glory days.

What Could Have Happened
There were three possible scenarios that could have played out when coming up with the new CFP format and determining who has the edge when looking at the new NCAAF playoff format advantages.

One would have been to give the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC champion automatic berths and the byes into the College Football Playoff quarterfinals while guaranteeing the best of the teams from the Group of Five conferences a spot in the field as well.

There could have been six automatic bids and six at-large spots, which would have helped in the quest to see the field dominated by Big Ten and SEC teams.

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The vote came down in the compromise position of five automatic bids and seven at-large spots.

Going by the final 2023 College Football Playoff rankings, this is how the field would have looked under the recently passed format change.

No. 1 Michigan (Big Ten champion), No. 3 Texas (SEC champion), No. 5 Florida State (ACC champion), and No. 14 Arizona (Big 12 champion) would receive the first-round byes. The other automatic bid would come down to Liberty out of Conference USA and Tulane out of the American Athletic Conference.

Washington, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon, Missouri, and Penn State would be the at-large teams. All of those would be from either the SEC or the Big Ten.

What About the Beavers and the Cougars?

While the other Pac-12 teams headed off for greener pastures, Oregon State and Washington are college football’s equivalent of the teams without a country. Both NCAAF teams, who will enter into a scheduling partnership with the Mountain West Conference, still want to have a seat at the table with the decision makers.

Although it was out of their control, it is hard to see that happening.

Oregon State is priced at +50000, and Washington State comes in at +80000 in the college football championship odds.

A Look at the Betting Numbers

Another way to look at the possible College Football Playoff field is by analyzing the current college football odds.

Georgia would be the top seed as the SEC champion followed by Big Ten champion Ohio State (+480 in the national championship odds). Florida State (+2000) would be next as the ACC champion with Arizona at +8000 also getting an automatic bid. The fifth automatic qualifier would likely go to Boise State (+40000).

The at-large spots based on the betting odds would belong to Texas (+750), Alabama (+1000), Oregon (+1200), LSU (+1400), Michigan (+1400), Ole Miss (+1500), and Penn State (+2600). That would mean that only three teams that are changing conferences would be among the 12 CFP teams.

It is pretty clear that there are some quirks that need to be worked out even if a 12-team CFP field should be an improvement from the previous four-team format.

It should be quite the journey to see which teams are left standing when the 12-team CFP field is announced.

For NCAAF picks, odds analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.


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