Brad’s 21st Annual Mock 16-Team College Football Playoff

For the 21st straight season, I have created a mock college football playoff bracket based my proposed college football playoff system, which would actually begin tonight based on the model you see below.  I realize that we now officially have a 12 team playoff in place that is set to begin in 2024, but I still feel like my 16 team model is superior for a few reasons. First of all, my model does not allow for first and second round rematches like the 12 team format does. For instance, this season you would have a regular season in the 6/11 first round game between Ohio State and Penn State, which wasn’t a great game the first time around. My model precludes teams from the same conference meeting until the Final Four. Also, my format is more inclusive, as all conference champions (not just the top ranked Group of Five team) would make the field. I have taken a picture of the bracket which you will see just under this paragraph, and then all of its nuances will be discussed below that.

The Field: Clemson (ACC Champ), Michigan (Big 10 Champ), Kansas State (Big 12 Champ), Utah (Pac-12 Champ), Georgia (SEC Champ), Tulane (AAC Champ), Fresno State (MWC Champ), UTSA (C-USA Champ), Toledo (MAC Champ), Troy (Sun Belt Champ), TCU (at-large, # 3 in Playoff Rankings), Ohio State (at-large, # 4 in Playoff Rankings), Alabama (at-large, # 5 in Playoff Rankings), Tennessee (at-large, # 6 in Playoff Rankings), Southern Cal (at-large, # 10 in Playoff Rankings), Penn State (at-large, # 11 in Playoff Rankings)

South Regional

(1) Georgia vs. (4) Toledo, Friday December 16th- 8:00 (ESPN), Jacksonville, FL (Gator Bowl)

(2) Utah vs. (3) Kansas State, Saturday December 17th- 8:00 (ESPN), San Francisco, CA (Former Redbox Bowl)

Winners play Saturday December 24th at 12:00 (ESPN) in Atlanta, GA (Peach Bowl)

East Regional

(1) Ohio State vs. (4) Troy, Saturday December 17th- 12:00 (ABC), Annapolis, MD (Military Bowl)

(2) Alabama vs. (3) Tulane, Saturday December 17th- 12:00 (ESPN), Birmingham, AL (Birmingham Bowl)

Winners play Saturday December 24th at 8:00 (ESPN) in Orlando, FL (Citrus Bowl)

Midwest Regional

(1) Michigan vs. (4) Fresno State, Saturday December 17th- 12:00 (ESPN 2), Fort Worth, TX (Armed Forces Bowl)

(2) Clemson vs. (3) Southern Cal, Saturday December 17th- 4:00 (ABC), Nassau, Bahamas (Bahamas Bowl)

Winners play Saturday December 24th at 4:00 (ABC) in Arlington, TX (Cotton Bowl)

West Regional

(1) TCU vs. (4) UTSA, Saturday December 17th- 4:00 (ESPN), Tucson, AZ (Arizona Bowl)

(2) Tennessee vs. (3) Penn State, Saturday December 17th- 8:00 (ABC), Memphis, TN (Liberty Bowl)

Winners play Saturday December 24th at 8:00 (ESPN), Glendale, AZ (Fiesta Bowl)

Final Four/Championship

South Regional Champ vs. East Regional Champ, Saturday December 31st- 8:00 (ESPN), New Orleans, LA (Sugar Bowl)

Midwest Regional Champ vs. West Regional Champ, Saturday December 31st- 4:00 (ESPN), Miami, FL (Orange Bowl)

Championship Game, Monday Jan 9th- 8:00 (ESPN), Pasadena, CA (Rose Bowl)

Basic Format:

  • 16 teams (10 conference championships and 6 at-larges chosen by the top 6 in the Playoff Rankings, which can be chosen exactly as it is now with a committee of 12/13.)
  • 4 regions (teams seeded 1-4 based on committee)
  • Bowl sites will become tourney sites.  See further explanation below.
  • Selection Sunday will be held the day after conference championship day and the first game will be played two weeks after that or one week depending on how late regular season ends.
  • A couple of special stipulations are that two teams from the same conference can’t play in the same region, and each conference is limited to four total playoff teams.
  • Teams can’t play on their home field except in semifinals or finals.


  • I’ve even drafted a mock game schedule that takes into consideration both the interests of the viewers and  television providers.  I’m going to assume that ABC/ESPN buy the rights to playoff coverage, since they have already purchased future New Year’s Six coverage rights.
  • Week 1 (First Round):  Game 1: Thursday 8:00- second best game of the week (ESPN);  Game 2: Friday 8:00- worst game of the week (ESPN); Games 3 and 4: Saturday 12:00- two non-west region games (ABC/ESPN split); Games 5 and 6: Saturday 3:30- two games of any type (ABC/ESPN split); Games 7 and 8: Saturday 8:00- game of the week is on ABC; ESPN has other game.
  • Week 2 (Elite 8): Game 1: Saturday 12:00- Third biggest game of the week but can’t be midwest/west regional final (ESPN); Game 2: Saturday 3:30- Worst game of the week (ESPN); Game 3: Saturday 3:30- Second biggest game of the week (ABC); Game 4: Saturday 8:00- Featured game of the week (ABC).
  • Week 3 (Final Four): Game 1: Saturday 3:30- Rose Bowl in years that Pasadena has semifinal; otherwise, second biggest game of the week (ESPN); Game 2: Saturday 8:00- Non-Rose Bowl in years that Pasadena has semifinal; otherwise, featured game of the week (ESPN).
  • Week 4 (Championship Game): Monday 8:00 (ESPN)

Playoff Sites:

  • Lower-tier bowl sites will become first round sites on a rotational basis.   
  • 2022: Nassau, Bahamas (Bahamas Bowl); Annapolis, MD (Military Bowl); Birmingham, AL (Birmingham Bowl); Jacksonville, FL (Gator Bowl); Fort Worth, TX (Armed Forces Bowl); Memphis, TN (Liberty Bowl); Tucson, AZ (Arizona Bowl); San Francisco, CA (Former Redbox Bowl).
  • 2023: Boston, MA (Fenway Bowl); Indianapolis, IN (Fictional Hoosier Bowl); Conway, SC (Myrtle Beach, SC); Shreveport, LA (Independence Bowl); Frisco, TX (Frisco Bowl); Boise, ID (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl); Honolulu, HI (Hawaii Bowl); Inglewood, CA (LA Bowl).
  • 2024: Charlotte, NC (Duke’s Mayo Bowl); Detroit, MI (Quick Lane Bowl); Montgomery, AL (Camellia Bowl); Boca Raton, FL (Boca Raton Bowl); El Paso, TX (Sun Bowl); Dallas, TX (First Responder Bowl); Phoenix, AZ (Guaranteed Rate Bowl); San Diego, CA (Holiday Bowl).
  • 2025: New York, NY (Pinstripe Bowl); Nashville, TN (Music City Bowl); Mobile, AL (LendingTree Bowl); Tampa, FL (Outback Bowl); San Antonio, TX (Alamo Bowl); Houston, TX (Texas Bowl); Albuquerque, NM (New Mexico Bowl); Las Vegas, NV (Las Vegas Bowl).
  •  The bowl sites of Arlington, TX (Cotton), Orlando, FL (Citrus), Glendale, AZ (Fiesta), and Atlanta, GA (Peach) will be annual elite 8 sites.
  • The Final Four/Championship games will be held in Pasadena, New Orleans, and Miami.  The championship game will rotate between the 3 sites, and the two final four games will be played in the non-championship cities.
  • The first-round sites that are off of the playoff rotation will still hold bowl games.  More explanation on that to follow.

Remaining Bowl Games:

  • This is the time where things get tricky, as I try to accommodate the rest of the bowl eligible teams who do not make the 16-team playoff.
  • There will be 25 bowl games held at all the first-round sites who are off of the playoff rotation and the bowl-only sites of: Exploria Stadium in Orlando, FL (home of the Cure Bowl).
  • The names of the bowls will remain the same.
  • The tie-ins for the bowls will try to replicate those for the current bowl games with the obvious omission of all tie-ins of conference champions.  Also, the number of bowl teams from each conference may fluctuate depending on how many teams it sends to the playoff in a particular season.
  • Overall, in this system there will be 66 FBS postseason teams (16 in playoff, 50 in bowls), which is much more reasonable than the current number of 82.
  • Because there are less bowls, we are going to make admission into them more selective by requiring that all Group of Five teams have a winning record in order to make a bowl.  Thus, all 6-6 teams from non-power 5 conferences are excluded from this model.
  • Here would be this year’s bowl schedule based on these principles:
1Dec. 16CureLSU (9-4) vs. Purdue (8-5)3:00ESPN
2Dec. 19Myrtle BeachMarshall (8-4) vs. Ohio (9-4)2:30ESPN
3Dec. 20Famous Idaho PotatoEastern Michigan (8-4) vs. San Jose State (7-4)3:30ESPN
4Dec. 20Boca RatonUCF (9-4) vs. Duke (8-4)7:30ESPN
5Dec. 22Las VegasFlorida (6-6) vs. Oregon State (9-3)7:30ESPN
6Dec. 23IndependenceWestern Kentucky (8-5) vs. South Alabama (10-2)3:00ESPN
7Dec. 23HawaiiWake Forest (7-5) vs. Missouri (6-6)6:30ESPN
8Dec. 26Quick LaneLiberty (8-4) vs. Houston (7-5)2:30ESPN
9Dec. 27CamelliaOklahoma (6-6) vs. Florida State (9-3)12:00ESPN
10Dec. 27First ResponderKansas (6-6) vs. Arkansas (6-6)3:15ESPN
11Dec. 27LA BowlWashington State (7-5) vs. Fresno State (9-4)6:45ESPN
12Dec. 27Guaranteed RateWisconsin (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5)10:15ESPN
13Dec. 28FriscoNorth Texas (7-6) vs. Boise State (9-4)2:00ESPN
14Dec. 28LendingTreeCoastal Carolina (9-3) vs. East Carolina (7-5)5:30ESPN
15Dec. 28HolidayNorth Carolina (9-4) vs. Oregon (9-3)8:00FOX
16Dec. 28TexasTexas Tech (7-5) vs. Ole Miss (8-4)9:00ESPN
17Dec. 29PinstripeSyracuse (7-5) vs. Minnesota (8-4)2:00ESPN
18Dec. 29New MexicoBaylor (6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3)5:30ESPN
19Dec. 29AlamoTexas (8-4) vs. Washington (10-2)9:00ESPN
20Dec. 30Duke’s MayoMaryland (7-5) vs. NC State (8-4)12:00ESPN
21Dec. 30SunPittsburgh (8-4) vs. UCLA (9-3)2:00CBS
22Dec. 30FenwayCincinnati (9-3) vs. Louisville (7-5)3:30ESPN
23Dec. 31Music CityIowa (7-5) vs. Kentucky (7-5)12:00ESPN
24Jan 2ReliaQuestMississippi State (8-4) vs. Illinois (8-4)12:00ESPN
25Jan. 2HoosierNotre Dame (8-4) vs. South Carolina (8-4)4:00ESPN

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