Notre Dame faces interesting challenges with College Football Playoff format

The College Football Playoff’s board of managers has revised the qualifying criteria for the expanded 12-team playoff next season, and the format poses a unique challenge to Notre Dame and other independent teams.

The original plan called for the six highest-ranked conference champions to be guaranteed spots in the expanded playoff, along with six at-large bids.

With the Pac-12 losing nearly all of its teams in recent months, the committee has changed the format to the five highest-ranked conference champions, including the highest-ranked non-Power Five champion, and seven at-large schools.

Where things become interesting for Notre Dame comes with the four highest seeds, which will all go to conference champions.

Those seeds also come with first-round byes, meaning that the highest seed Notre Dame can earn in the new format is the No. 5 seed.

The 5-through-12 teams will play each other in the first round of the expanded playoff, with the four highest-seeded teams hosting those first round games on their home campuses.

The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played in the New Year’s Six bowl games. The championship game will continue to be its own game.

The first round games will take place in late December. Quarterfinals will take place on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, with the semifinals on Jan. 9 and 10. The championship game will be played on Jan. 20, 2025 in Atlanta.

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