2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington
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The College Football Playoff ushered in another new era Tuesday, as the management committee voted to approve a new 5+7 model that decreases the number of automatic conference champion qualifiers by one and adds an extra at-large bid for the rest of the field. This change is in response to the Pac-12's effective dissolution, which essentially decreased the number of power conferences from five to four. 

College football's power brokers -- read: the SEC and Big Ten -- pushed hard for the 5+7 model. There will be some years where each conference gets three to four teams in the final field of 12, increasing the profile of two conferences already grand in stature. The ACC and the Big 12 are also in a better spot now than they ever were in the four-team field, with at least one team virtually guaranteed to make it each year. 

The new format still preserves the Group of Five's spot at the table, with that fifth automatic qualifier likely going to one of the Mid-American Conference, Sun Belt, American Athletic Conference, Conference USA or Mountain West Conference. 

On the other side, some conferences and teams were hurt by Tuesday's decision, including the poor Pac-12. Here's a look at a few winners and losers from the College Football Playoff's new 5+7 model. 


The ACC 

No matter what happens, an undefeated power conference champion won't miss out on the playoff ever again. Sorry, Florida State, you peaked a year too early. On top of last year's controversial decision to leave the Seminoles out of the field, 2023 marked the third straight year that an ACC champion was excluded from the College Football Playoff. But while the Seminoles are actively looking for a way out of the ACC the conference can now sell the other schools on a much easier path to the playoff. Just win the conference and you're in. What's more, even runners-up will have at least a shot of getting an at-large bid, so long as they had a good enough regular season to justify their inclusion. 

Penn State 

This moment is for you, Nittany Lions. There have been several fringe teams throughout the playoff's rather brief history, but few have been so consistently involved in the conversation without actually breaking through as Penn State. Not only did the Big Ten eliminate divisions going into 2024, allowing the Nittany Lions to step out of the massive shadow set by Michigan and Ohio State, James Franklin's squad doesn't even have to worry about winning the Big Ten to make the playoff. Penn State would have easily slid into the field in each of the last two years and they've finished no better than third in the Big Ten East. With how the Big Ten used to be set up, that was equivalent to being the third-best team in the conference. Given the Big Ten's position near the top of the college football pecking order, third-best in the league will be enough to garner heavy consideration for a playoff spot moving forward.  

Conference championship games

Not to say that conference championship games haven't mattered in recent years (though the Florida State debacle was a huge blow to postseason prestige) but their importance just skyrocketed. Any winner from the de facto "Power Four" is a near-lock for the playoff. The top four seeds -- which will likely be occupied by conference champions -- get a bye in the first round, giving them extra time to prepare. That would add even more incentive for an undefeated or top-ranked team to win the conference title, since that extra week of rest and preparation could make a huge difference when the quarterfinal games roll around.   


Pac-12 holdouts

No one is hurting more from this decision than what's left of the Pac-12. Oregon State and Washington State are in a worse spot than most non-power conference schools. At least those in leagues like Conference USA or the Mid-American Conference can play for a championship and one of those coveted automatic bids.  The only hope for either program is that they go undefeated in the regular season and have some other breaks -- completely out of their control -- fall their way. 

The No. 12 seed 

College football isn't built for Cinderella stories. Under this new format, whichever team occupies the No. 12 seed will have to travel and play the No. 5 seed. If past rankings are any indication, the 12-spot will almost always be occupied by that year's champion from the Group of Five ranks. The No. 5 seed, meanwhile, will be the best power conference team that didn't win a championship. It could even be an undefeated Notre Dame, which doesn't play in a conference but still occupies a spot among college football's elite. While there will surely be some upsets through the years, the odds will never be in a 12-seed's favor. On one hand, it's great just to be there, but losses on such a big stage -- especially if they aren't close -- can be a tough pill to swallow.