The College Football Playoff (CFP) is an annual postseason knockout tournament to determine a national champion of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the highest level of college football competition in the United States. The inaugural tournament was held at the end of the 2014 NCAA Division I FBS football season which was won by Ohio State. Four teams play in two semifinal games, and the winner of each semifinal advances to the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
A 13-member committee selects and seeds the four teams to take part in the CFP. This system differs from the use of polls or computer rankings that had previously been used to select the participants for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), the title system used in FBS from 1998 to 2013. The current format is a Plus-One system, an idea which became popular as an alternative to the BCS after the 2003 and 2004 seasons ended in controversy.
The two semifinal games rotate among six major bowl games, referred to as the New Year's Six: the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Peach Bowl. In addition to the four teams selected for the playoff, the final CFP rankings are used to help determine the participants for the other four New Year's Six bowls that are not hosting the semifinals that year. The semifinal games, which take place on the same day, are usually scheduled on Friday, Saturday, or Monday close to or on New Years Day, with flexibility allowed to ensure that they are not in conflict with other bowl games traditionally held on New Year's Day. The National Championship game is then played on the first Monday that is six or more days after the semifinals.
The venue of the championship game is selected based on bids submitted by cities, similar to the Super Bowl or NCAA Final Four. The winner of the game is awarded the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy. Playoff officials commissioned a new trophy that was unconnected with the previous championship systems, such as the AFCA "crystal football" trophy which had been regularly presented after the championship game since the 1990s (as the AFCA was contractually obligated to name the BCS champion as the Coaches Poll champion).
As the NCAA does not organize or award an official national championship for FBS football (instead merely recognizing the decisions made by any of a number of independent major championship selectors), the CFP's inception in 2014 marked the first time a major national championship selector in college football was able to determine their champion by using a bracket competition.
|College Football Playoff|
|Preceded by||BCS (1998–2013)|
Bowl Alliance (1995–1997)
Bowl Coalition (1992–1994)
|Number of playoff games||3 (championship game, 2 semifinal games)|
|Championship trophy||College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy|
|Television partner(s)||ESPN (2014–present)|
|Most playoff appearances||Alabama (5)|
|Most playoff wins||Alabama (6)|
|Most playoff championships||Alabama and Clemson (2)|
|Conference with most appearances||SEC (6)|
|Conference with most game wins||SEC (7)|
|Conference with most championships||ACC and SEC (2)|
|Last championship game||2019 College Football Playoff National Championship|
|Executive director||Bill Hancock|
The first College Football Playoff selection committee was announced on October 16, 2013. The group consists of 13 members who generally serve three-year terms, although some initial selections served terms both shorter and longer than three years "to achieve a rotation" of members.
|Member||Position||Conference affiliation[a]||Recusals[b]||Term expires|
|Joe Castiglione||Oklahoma athletic director||Big 12||Oklahoma, Missouri||February 2021|
|Christopher B. Howard||Robert Morris University President; former Air Force running back||N/A||None||February 2020|
|Jeff Bower||Former Southern Miss head coach||N/A||Southern Miss||February 2019|
|Herb Deromedi||Former Central Michigan head coach||N/A||Central Michigan||February 2019|
|Ronnie Lott||Former Southern California defensive back||N/A||USC||February 2021|
|Bobby Johnson||Former Vanderbilt head coach; former Clemson player||N/A||None||February 2019|
|Scott Stricklin||Florida athletic director||SEC||Florida||February 2021|
|Rob Mullens (chairman)||Oregon athletic director||Pac-12||Oregon||February 2020|
|Todd Stansbury||Georgia Tech athletic director||ACC||Georgia Tech||February 2021|
|Frank Beamer||Former Virginia Tech head coach||N/A||Oklahoma, Virginia Tech[c]||February 2020|
|Paola Boivin||Former The Arizona Republic reporter||N/A||None||February 2021|
|Ken Hatfield||Former Rice, Air Force, Arkansas and Clemson head coach||N/A||Rice, Air Force, Arkansas, Clemson||February 2021|
|Gene Smith||Ohio State athletic director||Big Ten||Ohio State||February 2020|
|Terry Mohajir (joining Feb. 2019)||Arkansas State athletic director||Sun Belt||Arkansas State||February 2022|
|RC Slocum (joining Feb. 2019)||Texas A&M coach (former)||Big 12||Texas A&M||February 2022|
|Ray Odierno (joining Feb. 2019)||former Army Chief of Staff||N/A||None||February 2022|
The committee members include one current athletic director from each of the five "major" conferences—ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC—also known as the Power Five conferences. Other members are former coaches, players, athletic directors, and administrators, plus a retired member of the media. The goal was for the panel to consist proportionally of current "Power Five" athletic directors, former coaches, and a third group of other voters, excluding current conference commissioners, coaches, and media members. During the selection process, organizers said they wanted the committee to be geographically balanced. Conference commissioners submitted lists totaling more than 100 names from which to select the final committee members.
|Member||Position||Conference affiliation[a]||Season(s)||Replaced by|
|Michael C. Gould||Former Air Force Academy superintendent||N/A||2014–15||Jeff Bower|
|Tom Osborne||Former Nebraska coach and athletic director||Big Ten/Big 12||2014–15||Lloyd Carr|
|Mike Tranghese||Former Big East commissioner||The American||2014–15||Herb Deromedi|
|Pat Haden[b]||USC athletic director; former USC quarterback||Pac-12||2014||Rob Mullens|
|Oliver Luck[c]||Former West Virginia athletic director||Big 12||2014||Kirby Hocutt|
|Archie Manning[d]||Former NFL and Ole Miss quarterback||N/A||-||Bobby Johnson|
|Lloyd Carr[e]||Former Michigan coach||Big Ten||-||Chris Howard|
|Condoleezza Rice||Former United States Secretary of State||N/A||2014–16||Frank Beamer|
|Barry Alvarez||Former Wisconsin coach and athletic director||Big Ten||2014–16||Gene Smith|
|Tom Jernstedt||Former NCAA executive vice president; former Oregon quarterback||N/A||2014–18||Ronnie Lott|
|Steve Wieberg||Former USA Today reporter||N/A||2014–18||Paola Boivin|
|Kirby Hocutt||Texas Tech athletic director; former Kansas State linebacker||Big 12||2015–18||Joe Castiglione|
|Tyrone Willingham||Former Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington head coach||N/A||2014–18||Ken Hatfield|
|Jeff Long||Former Arkansas athletic director||SEC||2014–18||Scott Stricklin|
|Dan Radakovich||Clemson athletic director||ACC||2014–18||Todd Stansbury|
The selection of Condoleezza Rice, a former U.S. Secretary of State and Stanford University provost, was met with some backlash within the sport and the media. Critics questioned her qualifications, citing gender and lack of football experience.
The committee releases its top 25 rankings weekly on Tuesdays in the second half of the regular season. The top four teams are seeded in that order for the playoff. During the season, the committee meets and releases rankings six or seven times, depending on the length of the season (the number of games is consistent, but the number of weeks those games are played over can vary from year to year). The group, which meets at the Gaylord Texan hotel in Grapevine, Texas, reportedly meets in person up to 10 total times a year.
A team's strength of schedule is one of the most pertinent considerations for the committee in making its selections. Other factors that the committee weighs are conference championships, team records, and head-to-head results, plus other points such as injuries and weather. Unlike the BCS system, the AP Poll, Coaches' Poll, and the Harris Poll, computer rankings are not used to make the selections. Advanced statistics and metrics are expected to be submitted to the committee, though like other analytics, they have no formal role in the decision. Committee members are not required to attend games.
Long said the panel considered less frequent rankings, but ultimately decided on a weekly release. "That's what the fans have become accustomed to, and we felt it would leave a void in college football without a ranking for several weeks," he said. Long also noted: "Early on there was some talk that we would go into a room at the end of the season and come out with a top four, but that didn't last long." In analyzing this change in thinking, Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated commented: "The whole point of the selection committee was to replace the simplistic horse-race nature of Top 25 polls – where teams only move up if someone above them loses – with a more deliberative evaluation method. Now the playoff folks are going to try to do both." Addressing the "pecking order" nature of traditional polls, George Schrodeder of USA Today wrote that "if it actually works as intended, we could see volatile swings" from week to week, with lower-ranked teams moving ahead of higher-ranked teams without either team losing (a rarity in traditional polls). Both Long and Bill Hancock, the CFP executive director, say they expect that to happen.
The committee's voting method uses multiple ballots, similar to the NCAA basketball tournament selection process and the entire process is facilitated through custom software developed by Code Authority in Frisco, Texas. From a large initial pool of teams, the group takes numerous votes on successive tiers of teams, considering six at a time and coming to a consensus on how they should be ranked, then repeating the process with the next tier of teams. Discussion and debate happens at each voting step. All votes are by secret ballot, and committee members do not make their ballots public. Each week's ranking process begins anew, with no weight given to the previous week's selections. In this fashion, the committee selects the four teams to compete for the national championship.
Committee members who are currently employed or financially compensated by a school, or have family members who have a current financial relationship (which includes football players), are not allowed to vote for that school. During deliberations about a team's selection, members with such a conflict of interest cannot be present, but can answer factual questions about the institution. All committee members have past ties to certain NCAA institutions, but the committee decided to ignore those ties in the recusal requirements. "We just boiled it down to where we felt this group was fit to its high integrity and would differentiate from those past relationships," Long said. Some football writers, like Dennis Dodd and Mark Schlabach, have said the recusal arrangement isn't transparent or objective, suggesting that members' alma maters and former coaching jobs should be considered disqualifying conflicts of interest.
Due to the increased emphasis on strength of schedule, teams have considered playing more challenging opponents during the non-conference portion of their schedules. Some teams have traditionally played three or four "weak" non-conference opponents, but wins against such low-level competition are unlikely to impress the committee. For teams on the cusp of making the playoff four, "I think one of the first things the committee will look at is strength of schedule," said selector Oliver Luck.
Teams in the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 play nine conference games on their twelve-game schedules and thus only have flexibility in choosing their opponents for the three non-league games. Some programs are opting to increase their schedule strength by scheduling high-profile matchups at neutral sites and on weeknights, garnering primetime TV exclusivity.
In response to the new playoff system, the Southeastern Conference considered increasing its conference schedule from eight to nine games, with Alabama coach Nick Saban a vocal proponent. According to Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News, "The prevailing opinion among SEC athletics directors: The SEC is difficult enough that there's no need for a ninth game." Some in the conference, like Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin, opined that a nine-game SEC schedule would result in more teams with two losses. Commissioner Michael Slive and Vanderbilt AD David Williams, among others, supported a stronger out-of-league schedule, which would likely impress the committee. In April 2014, the league voted to mandate that all SEC teams must play a Power Five foe (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, or independent Notre Dame) in its non-conference slate beginning in 2016. Slive noted this rule "gives us the added strength-of-schedule we were seeking". In 2014, the first year of the College Football Playoff, one team played two opponents from the Power Five, nine of the 14 teams played one Power Five conference opponent and three lower-level opponents (including one FCS school), and four teams did not face a Power Five foe. In the spring of 2015, the SEC decided to count games played against Independents BYU and Army toward its Power Five requirement.
The ACC, whose teams also play eight conference games (plus Notre Dame at least once every three years), also considered moving to a nine-game conference schedule. However, the league opted to stay with the eight-plus-Notre Dame model, stipulating instead that teams would have to play one Power Five school in their non-league slates beginning in 2017, which would include the Notre Dame game or other ACC schools, as will games against another FBS independent, BYU. Despite the push to increase schedule strength, some ACC coaches preferred the scheduling flexibility available with fewer permanent fixtures on a team's slate. Opinion was split among league athletic directors on moving to a nine-game schedule prior to the vote. An SEC expansion to a nine-game schedule would limit the ACC's opportunities to play Power Five non-conference opponents.
The College Football Playoff uses a four-team knockout bracket to determine the national champion. Six of the most historic bowl games—the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Peach Bowl– rotate as hosts for the semifinals. The rotation is set on a three-year cycle with the following pairings: Rose/Sugar, Orange/Cotton, and Fiesta/Peach. The two semifinal bowls and the other four top-tier bowls are marketed as the New Year's Six. Three of these bowls played per day, typically on consecutive days that include New Year's Day. The selection committee seeds the top four teams, and also assigns teams to the at-large bowls (Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach) in years when they do not host semifinals.
The four-team format pits the No. 1-ranked team against No. 4 and No. 2 against No. 3. The seeding determines the semifinal bowl game assigned to each matchup; the No. 1 seed chooses its bowl game to prevent it from playing in a "road" environment. There are no limits on the number of teams per conference, a change from previous BCS rules. However, some non-semifinal bowl selections still maintain their conference tie-ins, similarly to the BCS's automatic qualifier berths. A team from one of the "Group of Five" conferences is guaranteed a spot in one of the New Year's Six bowls.
|2014–15||Rose Bowl||2 Oregon (12–1)||3 Florida State (13–0)||59–20||Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, California|
|Sugar Bowl||4 Ohio State (12–1)||1 Alabama (12–1)||42–35||Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana|
|2015–16||Orange Bowl||1 Clemson (13–0)||4 Oklahoma (11–1)||37–17||Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida|
|Cotton Bowl||2 Alabama (12–1)||3 Michigan State (12–1)||38–0||AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas|
|2016–17||Fiesta Bowl||2 Clemson (12–1)||3 Ohio State (11–1)||31–0||University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona|
|Peach Bowl||1 Alabama (13–0)||4 Washington (12–1)||24–7||Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia|
|2017–18||Rose Bowl||3 Georgia (12–1)||2 Oklahoma (12–1)||54–48 2OT||Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, California|
|Sugar Bowl||4 Alabama (11–1)||1 Clemson (12–1)||24–6||Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana|
|2018–19||Orange Bowl||1 Alabama (13–0)||4 Oklahoma (12–1)||45–34||Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida|
|Cotton Bowl||2 Clemson (13–0)||3 Notre Dame (12–0)||30–3||AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas|
|2019–20||Fiesta Bowl||State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona|
|Peach Bowl||Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia|
Cities around the country bid to host each year's championship game. The playoff group's leaders make a selection from those proposals, in a similar fashion to other large sporting events, such as the Super Bowl or NCAA Final Four. Officials say the championship game will be held in a different city each year, and that bids must propose host stadiums with a capacity of at least 65,000 spectators. Under the system, cities cannot host both a semifinal game and the title game in the same year.
|2014||4 Ohio State (13–1)||2 Oregon (13–1)||42–20||AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas|
|2015||2 Alabama (13–1)||1 Clemson (14–0)||45–40||University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona|
|2016||2 Clemson (13–1)||1 Alabama (14–0)||35–31||Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida|
|2017||4 Alabama (12–1)||3 Georgia (13–1)||26–23 OT||Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia|
|2018||2 Clemson (14–0)||1 Alabama (14–0)||44–16||Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California|
|2019||Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana|
|2020||Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida|
|2021||Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana|
|2022||Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park, Inglewood, California|
|2023||NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas|
|Appearances||Team||W||L||Pct||Game(s) won||Game(s) lost|
|5||Alabama||6||3||.667||2015 Cotton Bowl (Dec. 2015)
2016 CFP National Championship
2016 Peach Bowl
2018 Sugar Bowl
2018 CFP National Championship
2018 Orange Bowl (Dec. 2018)
|2015 Sugar Bowl|
2017 CFP National Championship
|4||Clemson||5||2||.714||2015 Orange Bowl
2016 Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 2016)
2017 CFP National Championship
2018 Cotton Bowl (Dec. 2018)
2019 CFP National Championship
|2016 CFP National Championship|
|3||Oklahoma||0||3||.000||2015 Orange Bowl|
2018 Rose Bowl
2018 Orange Bowl (Dec. 2018)
|2||Ohio State||2||1||.667||2015 Sugar Bowl
2015 CFP National Championship
|2016 Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 2016)|
|1||Georgia||1||1||.500||2018 Rose Bowl||2018 CFP National Championship|
|1||Oregon||1||1||.500||2015 Rose Bowl||2015 CFP National Championship|
|1||Florida State||0||1||.000||2015 Rose Bowl|
|1||Michigan State||0||1||.000||2015 Cotton Bowl (Dec. 2015)|
|1||Notre Dame||0||1||.000||2018 Cotton Bowl (Dec. 2018)|
|1||Washington||0||1||.000||2016 Peach Bowl|
|Conference||Appearances||W||L||Pct||Championships||# of teams||Team(s)|
Florida State (1)
|Big Ten||3||2||2||.500||1||2||Ohio State (2)|
Michigan State (1)
|Big 12||3||0||3||.000||0||1||Oklahoma (3)|
|FBS Independents||1||0||1||.000||0||1||Notre Dame (1)|
† The 2018 Championship Game featured SEC teams Alabama and Georgia. The SEC has a record of 6–3 (.667) in games against other conferences.
The television broadcast rights to all six CFP bowls and the National Championship are owned by ESPN through at least the 2025 season. ESPN then reached 12-year agreements to retain rights to the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl following the dissolution of the Bowl Championship Series. In November, ESPN reached a 12-year deal to broadcast the remaining three bowls, the championship game, as well as shoulder programming such as ranking shows; as a whole, the contract is valued at around $470 million per year, or nearly $5.7 billion for the life of the contract.
The inaugural College Football Playoff games in January 2015 generated larger ratings than previous BCS games. The 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship had an 18.9 Nielsen rating and was watched by approximately 33.4 million people, the largest broadcast audience of all time on American cable television (non-broadcast), according to AdWeek. That was a 31 percent audience increase over the previous year's championship game and a 22 percent increase over the BCS title game's best rating on cable (a 16.1 rating in 2011). The semifinal games, the 2015 Rose Bowl and 2015 Sugar Bowl, saw 28.16 million and 28.27 million viewers, respectively. According to ESPN, these games also set (and briefly held) all-time records for cable TV viewership.
In 2015, the ratings for the two semifinal games were down from the prior season's equivalents, with the Orange Bowl reaching a 9.7 rating (in comparison to 15.5 for the 2015 Rose Bowl) and the Cotton Bowl reaching a 9.9 rating (in comparison to a 15.3 rating for the 2015 Sugar Bowl). On the online WatchESPN streaming service, excluding 2014 FIFA World Cup games, the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl drew the second and third-largest streaming audiences in the service's history, behind the 2015 national championship. The ratings drops were attributed to the New Year's Eve time slot, as fewer people were at home to watch the game. The decline in ratings was a factor in changes for the scheduling of future CFP semi-final games.
In 2012, ESPN reportedly paid about $7.3 billion over 12 years for broadcasting rights to all seven games, an average of about $608 million per year. That includes $215 million per year which was already committed to the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls, plus $470–475 million annually for the rest of the package. By comparison, the most recent contract with the BCS and the Rose Bowl had paid approximately $155 million per year for five games.
The average revenue to the new system over 12 years is to be about $500 million per year. After $125–150 million in expenses, the Power Five conferences split about 71.5 percent of the remaining money, for an approximate average payout of $250 million a year ($50 million per league) over the life of the contract. The "Group of Five" conferences split 27 percent, about $90 million a year ($18 million per league). Notre Dame receives around one percent, about $3.5-4 million, and other FBS independents get about 0.5 percent of the deal.
Extra revenue goes to conferences in contracts with the Rose, Sugar, and Orange bowls, which split revenue 50/50 between their participating leagues. In non-semifinal years, the Rose Bowl's TV revenue would be divided between the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences; likewise, the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl revenue to its participant conferences. When those bowls are semifinal games, the money is distributed by the playoff system to all FBS conferences. ESPN has paid about $80 million a year each for the Rose and Sugar bowls over 12 years. The Orange Bowl deal is worth $55 million per year. For example, in a non-semifinal year, the Big Ten could receive about $90 million (half of its $80 million Rose Bowl deal plus about $50 million from the playoff system).
Conferences receive an additional $6 million each year for each team it places in the semifinals and $4 million for a team in one of the three at-large bowls; Notre Dame receives the same amount in either scenario. No additional money is awarded for reaching the championship game.
The Power Five conferences and the "Group of Five" have not decided on their respective revenue-sharing formulas, though the SEC initially receives more revenue than the other four Power Five conferences due to its BCS success. Reports say the money is to be divided based on several criteria such as "on-field success, teams' expenses, marketplace factors and academic performance of student-athletes." The playoff system awards academic performance bonuses of $300,000 per school for meeting the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate standard of 930. In a hypothetical 14-team conference, $4.2 million ($300,000 x 14) would be allocated to that league, and if only 12 of the 14 members meet the APR standard, then each of the 12 schools would receive $350,000 ($4.2 million / 12), penalizing schools that fall below the threshold.
BCS Properties, LLC holds all properties related to the College Football Playoff. Previous BCS commissioner Bill Hancock is the executive director of the playoff organization, with former ACC Senior Associate Commissioner Michael Kelly as COO. Like the BCS, the playoff system's management committee consists of the conference commissioners from the 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame's athletic director. The playoff system's headquarters is in Irving, Texas.
According to the CFP website, the system's operations are controlled by the Board of Managers, which consists of presidents and chancellors of the playoff group's member universities. The eleven members have sole authority to develop, review and approve annual budgets, policies and operating guidelines. The group also selects the company's officers.
According to the CFP website, the Athletics Directors Advisory Group is appointed by the management committee to "offer counsel" on the operations of the system. As an advisory board, it has no authority in the management of the CFP.
Because the tournament has four teams, at least one Power Five champion misses the playoffs every season. However, not all teams selected have been conference winners. In the 2016–17 season, one of the teams selected was Ohio State, who did not qualify to the Big Ten Championship Game. As a result, both the Big Ten and Big 12 champions were not selected for the playoffs. In the 2017–18 season, two of the four selected teams were from the SEC: conference champions Georgia, and Alabama, who lost to SEC runner-up Auburn. Analysts have discussed whether the committee should select conference champions only.
Another critique centered around a perceived bias against smaller conferences such as the Big 12 which used to not stage a conference championship game, but was reintroduced for the 2017 season. The American Athletic Conference addressed this issue by adding Navy to its ranks for 2015, bringing its membership to 12 teams, which allowed it to stage a conference championship game under then-current NCAA rules. Starting with the 2016 season, FBS conferences will be allowed to stage football championship games even if they do not have 12 members.
There are opinions labeling the CFP system "just as" or "even more polarizing" than the BCS or the old wire-service poll system. However, most in sports media believe the College Football Playoff Committee got the right foursome for the 2017-18 playoff.
The qualifications of selection committee members has also been scrutinized. As an outsider to the sports world, Condoleezza Rice was the focus of some criticism. Former Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden opined that the committee's members should be "people who played the game and preferably coached the game". Former Auburn head coach Pat Dye said that "All she knows about football is what somebody told her ... or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television. To understand football, you've got to play with your hand in the dirt". Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese also gained membership on the selection committee despite having never played football in college. Former sportswriter Steve Weiberg and retired U.S. Air Force General Michael Gould are other committee members without significant football playing, coaching, or administrative experience.
The semifinal games for the 2015 season were scheduled for December 31; they were expected to have lower television viewership because the date is not a federal holiday, and because the second game faced heavy competition for television viewers in primetime from New Year's Eve specials (such as New Year's Rockin' Eve, which is aired by ESPN's sister broadcast network ABC). Under television contracts with ESPN that predate the College Football Playoff, both the Rose and Sugar Bowl games are guaranteed exclusive TV time slots on January 1 (or January 2 if New Year's Day falls on a Sunday), regardless of whether they are hosting a semifinal game. In an interview with CBS Sports, CFP commissioner Bill Hancock suggested this scheduling issue would "change the paradigm of what New Year's Eve is all about," opining that "if you're hosting a New Year's Eve party, you better have a bunch of televisions around." Although ESPN proposed moving the Thursday, December 31, 2015 semifinal games to Saturday, January 2, 2016, the idea was rejected. The semifinal games' ratings were ultimately down significantly from those of the previous season.
In an effort to reduce the impact of their New Year's Eve scheduling, the 2016 semifinal games, which fell on a Saturday, had earlier kickoff times, at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. ET respectively. The 2016 Orange Bowl was played in primetime on December 30, 2016, rather than in an early afternoon window on New Year's Eve. Hancock considered the earlier start times to be a compromise to reduce the games' intrusion into New Year's Eve festivities, but reiterated that there were no plans to move the semi-final games from New Year's Eve outside of years where they are hosted by the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.
On July 28, 2016, however, Hancock reversed this stance and announced revisions to the scheduling for future College Football Playoff semi-final games. The games were rescheduled so that they will not necessarily be played on New Year's Eve yearly: outside of years when they are hosted by the Rose and Sugar Bowls (where they retain their traditional New Year's Day scheduling), they will now be scheduled primarily on the last Saturday or federally observed holiday of the year. In some years, this date will land on New Year's Eve. In 2021, the games will be played on Friday, December 31, because the day will be observed as a holiday. Viewership of the 2018 semi-finals were down by 25% over the previous semi-finals, which were played on New Year's Day.
The 2014–15 NCAA football bowl games were a series of college football bowl games. They completed the 2014 NCAA Division I FBS football season, and included 39 team-competitive games and four all-star games. The games began on December 20, 2014 and, aside from the all-star games, ended with the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship which was played on January 12, 2015.A new record total of 39 team-competitive bowl games were played, including the national championship game and the inaugural Camellia Bowl, Boca Raton Bowl and Bahamas Bowl. While bowl games had been the purview of only the very best teams for nearly a century, this was the ninth consecutive year that teams with non-winning seasons participated in bowl games. To fill the 76 available team-competitive bowl slots, a total of 13 teams (17% of all participants) with non-winning seasons participated in bowl games—12 with a .500 (6-6) season and, for the third time in four years, a team with a sub-.500 (6-7) season.2015 College Football Playoff National Championship
The 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship was a bowl game that determined a national champion of NCAA Division I FBS college football for the 2014 season, which took place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on January 12, 2015. It was the culminating game of the 2014–15 bowl season as the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship, replacing the BCS National Championship Game. The national title was contested through a four-team bracket system, the College Football Playoff, which replaced the previous Bowl Championship Series.The game was played between the winners of two designated semi-final bowl games played on January 1, 2015: the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes, who upset No. 1 Alabama 42–35 in the 2015 Sugar Bowl, and the No. 2 Oregon Ducks, who defeated previously unbeaten No. 3 Florida State 59–20 in the 2015 Rose Bowl. This was the first championship game since 2006 that did not feature at least one SEC team, and the teams' first meeting since the 2010 Rose Bowl, which the Buckeyes won 26–17.
The Ohio State Buckeyes won the game, 42–20, marking the first national championship awarded under the CFP system. Following the game, the AP Poll and Coaches' Poll also named Ohio State as their top team of the season, marking Ohio State's first national championship since 2002 and their 8th overall.2015 Cotton Bowl Classic (December)
The 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic was a college football bowl game played on December 31, 2015 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The 80th Cotton Bowl Classic was a College Football Playoff semifinal between Alabama and Michigan State with the winner to compete in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship. It was one of the 2015–16 bowl games that concluded the 2015 FBS football season.
The game was broadcast on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio and XM Satellite Radio. It was sponsored by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and was officially known as the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
Alabama defeated Michigan State 38–0 and later won the National Championship by defeating Clemson in the National Championship game.2015 Rose Bowl
The 2015 Rose Bowl (officially known as the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual) was a college football bowl game played on January 1, 2015, at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California. This 101st Rose Bowl Game, as a semifinal for the College Football Playoff (CFP), matched the Oregon Ducks against the Florida State Seminoles as selected by the system's selection committee to compete for a spot at the National Championship game to be played on January 12, 2015 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It was one of the 2014–15 bowl games that concluded the 2014 FBS football season.
The game was televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, and broadcast on ESPN Radio and XM Satellite Radio, with the kickoff time set for 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. local time). The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association organized the game. The Northwestern Mutual financial services organization sponsored the game.
On the match day, the 126th edition of the annual Rose Parade took place at 8 am Pacific Time with a theme of Inspiring Stories.Oregon won the game, beating Florida State, the last undefeated team of the season, by the score of 59–20 and advanced to the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship Game, assuring that no team would finish the season with a perfect record.2015 Sugar Bowl
The 2015 Sugar Bowl was a college football game that was played on January 1, 2015 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was the 81st Sugar Bowl, and a semifinal game in the College Football Playoff. It was one of the 2014–15 bowl games that concluded the 2014 FBS football season. Sponsored by the Allstate insurance company, the game was officially known as the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
In the game, the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide by a score of 42–35. The Buckeyes advanced to the College Football Playoff Championship Game against the Oregon Ducks, which was played January 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The contest was televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, with a radio broadcast on ESPN Radio and XM Satellite Radio. Kickoff time was set for 8:30 PM, Eastern Standard Time, but was delayed until after the end of the Rose Bowl.2016 College Football Playoff National Championship
The 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship was a bowl game that determined a national champion of NCAA Division I FBS college football for the 2015 season. It was played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on January 11, 2016, and was the culminating game of the 2015–16 bowl season.
The game was played between the winners of two pre-designated semifinal bowls played on December 31, 2015: the No. 1 Clemson Tigers, who beat the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners 37–17 at the Orange Bowl, coached by Dabo Swinney in his 8th season, and the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide, who shut out the No. 3 Michigan State Spartans 38–0 at the Cotton Bowl Classic, coached by Nick Saban.
The 13–1 Alabama Crimson Tide won the game, holding off the undefeated Clemson Tigers 45–40 in the fourth quarter. Accompanied by a talented receiving corps, Clemson's Heisman Finalist quarterback Deshaun Watson had a historic performance, setting the record for most total yards in national championship game history, with 478 yards (405 passing / 73 rushing) against the nation's third-ranked defense in Alabama, breaking the record previously set by Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl. Following the game, the AP Poll also named Alabama as its top team of the season, giving Alabama their fourth title in seven seasons. Both Clemson and Alabama finished the season 14–1.2016 Fiesta Bowl (December)
The 2016 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (December) was a college football bowl game that was played on December 31, 2016 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. This 46th Fiesta Bowl Game was a College Football Playoff semifinal with the winner of the game competing against the winner of the 2016 Peach Bowl in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship which took place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. It was one of the 2016–17 bowl games that concluded the 2016 FBS football season.
It was the second game to be called "the 2016 Fiesta Bowl", as the previous season's game was played on January 1, 2016. The previous two Fiesta Bowls were also played in the same calendar year as each other. The game's title sponsor was Sony Interactive Entertainment via its PlayStation brand as part of a multi-year deal with broadcasting and marketing rightsholder ESPN, which includes branded content and making PlayStation the official video gaming and virtual reality sponsor of the College Football Playoff. The winning team will receive the Molina Fiesta Bowl Trophy.
Clemson became just the second team in college football history to shut out Ohio State (11-2) in a bowl game, joining U.C. Berkeley in the 1921 Rose Bowl. The game also marked the first time that Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer was shut out in his career, in about 193 games, and his second major loss to Dabo Swinney in the past four seasons. The game also marked the second consecutive advance to the CFP National Championship game by the Clemson football program.2016 NCAA Division I FBS football rankings
Two human polls and a committee's selections comprised the 2016 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football rankings, in addition to various publications' preseason polls. Unlike most sports, college football's governing body, the NCAA, does not bestow a national championship, instead that title is bestowed by one or more different polling agencies. There are two main weekly polls that began in the preseason—the AP Poll and the Coaches' Poll. One additional poll was released midway through the season; the College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings are released after the eighth week.
This was the third season of the four-team College Football Playoff system which replaced the previous Bowl Championship Series system. At the conclusion of the regular season, on Sunday, December 4, 2016, the final CFP rankings determined who would play in the two bowl games designated as semifinals for the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship on January 9, 2017, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.2016 Orange Bowl
The 2016 Orange Bowl was a college football bowl game played on December 30, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, played between the Michigan Wolverines of the Big Ten Conference against the Florida State Seminoles of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). It was one of the 2016–17 bowl games that concluded the 2016 NCAA Division I FBS football season. Florida State won the game by a score of 33–32. Dalvin Cook, running back for the Seminoles, was named the game's MVP.
The game was played on the 30th instead of on December 31 or January 1, as the following day's College Football Playoff semi-final bowls were played with earlier kick-off times that intruded into the New Year's Six early-afternoon scheduling window.2016 Peach Bowl
The 2016 Peach Bowl was a college football bowl game played on December 31, 2016 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. It was one of the 2016–17 bowl games concluding the 2016 FBS football season. The 49th Peach Bowl was a College Football Playoff semifinal, with the winner of this game advancing to play the winner of the 2016 Fiesta Bowl in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. This was the final edition of the Peach Bowl (and final college football game) contested in the Georgia Dome, as the stadium was demolished on November 20, 2017 after its replacement, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, opened on August 26 of the same year.
Sponsored by Chick-fil-A, the game was officially known as the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The game was televised on ESPN with a radio broadcast on ESPN Radio. The winner of the game received the George P. Crumbley Trophy, named for the founder of the original Peach Bowl.2017 College Football Playoff National Championship
The 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship was a bowl game that was used to determine a national champion of college football in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision for the 2016 season. The game was played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on January 9, 2017. It was the culminating game of the 2016–17 bowl season.
The game was played between the winners of two pre-designated bowl games played on December 31, 2016: the Clemson Tigers, who defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl, and the Alabama Crimson Tide, who defeated the Washington Huskies in the Peach Bowl. Having met in the previous year's championship game, the resulting title game between Clemson and Alabama became college football's first rematch between #1 and #2 in national championship game history.The Tigers won the game 35–31 on a go-ahead touchdown with one second left, having come back from a 14–0 deficit earlier in the game. Clemson quarterback and Heisman Finalist Deshaun Watson set the record for most passing yards in a championship game with 420, breaking his own record of 405 yards set in the 2016 national championship game. Deshaun Watson and Ben Boulware were named the Offensive and Defensive Most Valuable Players respectively.2018 College Football Playoff National Championship
The 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship was a college football bowl game that determined a national champion in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision for the 2017 season. The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 26–23, coming back from a 13–0 deficit at halftime to secure the win in overtime. True freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and defensive tackle Daron Payne were respectively named the offensive and defensive players of the game.
The College Football Playoff selection committee chose the semifinalists following the conclusion of the 2017 regular season. Alabama and Georgia advanced to the national championship after winning the semifinal games hosted by the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl Game respectively in January 2018. The championship game was played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on January 8, 2018.2018 Cotton Bowl Classic
The 2018 Cotton Bowl Classic was a college football bowl game played on December 29, 2018, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The 83rd Cotton Bowl Classic was a College Football Playoff semifinal with the winner to compete in the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship. It was one of the 2018–19 bowl games concluding the 2018 FBS football season. Sponsored by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, the game was officially known as the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.2018 Orange Bowl
The 2018 Orange Bowl was a college football bowl game played on Saturday, December 29, 2018. It was the 85th edition of the Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl was one of two College Football Playoff semifinal games, with the winner advancing to the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship. It was one of the 2018–19 bowl games concluding the 2018 FBS football season. Sponsored by the Capital One Financial Corporation, the game was officially known as the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl.2018 Rose Bowl
The 2018 Rose Bowl was a college football bowl game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Georgia Bulldogs, played on January 1, 2018 at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California. The 104th Rose Bowl Game was a semifinal for the College Football Playoff (CFP), matching two of the top four teams selected by the system's selection committee. Georgia and Oklahoma competed for a spot at the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship game, to be played on January 8, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The Georgia Bulldogs won the game with a 27-yard run by Sony Michel, shortly after Lorenzo Carter blocked Oklahoma Sooners' field goal attempt in the second overtime. The game lasted four hours and five minutes. With 26.8 million viewers on ESPN, the game ranked as the fifth most-viewed cable program of all time.The game was one of the 2017–18 bowl games that concluded the 2017 FBS football season. It was televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, and broadcast on ESPN Radio and XM Satellite Radio, with the kickoff at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. local time). The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association organized the game. Sponsored by the Northwestern Mutual financial services organization, the game was officially known as the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual.2018 Sugar Bowl
The 2018 Sugar Bowl was a College Football Playoff semifinal bowl game that was played on January 1, 2018 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The 84th Sugar Bowl game, it matched two of the top four teams selected by the Selection Committee to compete for a spot at the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship played on January 8, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. It was one of the 2017–18 bowl games that concluded the 2017 FBS football season. Sponsored by the Allstate insurance company, the game is officially known as the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
The contest was televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, with a radio broadcast on ESPN Radio and XM Satellite Radio, with kickoff at 8:00 PM CT (9:00 PM ET).2019 College Football Playoff National Championship
The 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship was a college football bowl game that determined a national champion in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision for the 2018 season. It was played at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on January 7, 2019, and was the culminating game of the 2018–19 bowl season. Sponsored by telecommunications company AT&T, the game was officially known as the College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T.The Clemson Tigers defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide by a score of 44–16 to win the championship with an undefeated 15–0 record. Clemson became the first team to win 15 games in a single season since the 1897 Penn Quakers. The 28-point loss was the largest margin of defeat for Alabama during the Nick Saban era (since 2007) and since Alabama's 31-point loss in the 1998 Music City Bowl.College Football Playoff National Championship
The College Football Playoff National Championship is a post-season college football bowl game, used to determine a national champion of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), which began play in the 2014 college football season. The game serves as the final of the College Football Playoff, a bracket tournament between the top four teams in the country as determined by a selection committee, which was established as a successor to the Bowl Championship Series and its similar BCS National Championship Game. Unlike the BCS championship, the participating teams in the College Football Playoff National Championship are determined by two semi-final bowls—hosted by two of the consortium's six member bowls yearly—and the top two teams as determined by the selection committee do not automatically advance to the game in lieu of other bowls. This has caused a unique side effect in that, since the inception of the playoff, no #1 or #3 seed has won the National Championship.
The game is played at a neutral site, determined through bids by prospective host cities (similar to the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four). When announcing it was soliciting bids for the 2016 and 2017 title games, playoff organizers noted that the bids must propose host stadiums with a capacity of at least 65,000 spectators, and cities cannot host both a semi-final game and the title game in the same year.The winner of the game is awarded a new championship trophy instead of the "crystal football", which has been given by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) since 1986; officials wanted a new trophy that was unconnected with the previous BCS championship system. The inaugural game was held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in January 2015, and was won by Ohio State. The awarded trophy, College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy, is sponsored by Dr Pepper.New Year's Six
The New Year's Six (NY6) bowls are the top six major NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision bowl games: the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Peach Bowl, and Fiesta Bowl. The New Year's Six represent six of the ten oldest bowl games currently played at the FBS level. These 6 top-tier bowl games rotate the hosting of the two College Football Playoff (CFP) semifinal games, which determine the teams that play in the final College Football Playoff National Championship game. The rotation is set on a three-year cycle with the following pairings: Rose/Sugar, Orange/Cotton, and Fiesta/Peach.
The selection committee seeds and pairs the top four teams, and along with their final CFP rankings determine the participants for the other four non-playoff New Year's Six bowls that are not hosting the semifinals that year. These four non-playoff bowls are also referred to as the Selection Committee bowl games. These six games focus on the top 12 teams in the rankings, with only six teams ranked lower than 12th (all six were still ranked in the top 20) having ever played in the New Year's Six since the College Football Playoff system was inaugurated.
Twelve schools are selected for these major, top tier bowls. These include the champions of the "Power Five" conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC). The highest-ranked champion from the "Group of Five" conferences (The American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) is guaranteed a berth if the group's top team is not in the playoff.
College Football Playoff
|Semifinal bowl games|
Championship games for each season are played in January, while semifinal games are identified by season year, alternating between December and January