The Road to the College Football Playoff National Championship

By Victoria Barnett

July 30, 2015

With football season on the horizon, many of us are already thinking way ahead to the College Football Playoff National Championship. It’s hard not to! It’s one of the most thrilling sporting events of the year, and one we certainly hope our favorite team is a part of.

The road to the National Championship is not exactly an easy one by any means. However, it is very well an exciting one! With so many factors contributing to whether or not a team lands in the playoff, it’s no surprise there is so much anticipation both during the season and postseason.

You may or may not realize the extensive process involved in selecting teams to go to the playoff. The College Football Playoff Selection Committee has very tough decisions to make, and it requires a great deal of time and energy to select the four best teams in the country. Take a look below to see how the process works and what the bowl schedule looks like for the 2015-2016 season.

How It Works

A 13-person selection committee will rank the top 25 teams in the country from among the 10 FBS conferences and four FBS independents. The selection committee uses a process that compares teams based on conference championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, comparative outcomes of common opponents and other relevant factors that affect a team’s performance.

The Process

  1. Each committee member creates a list of 30 teams he or she believes to be the best in the country. Teams listed by three or more members remain under consideration.

  2. Each member lists the best six teams, in no particular order. The six teams receiving the most votes will comprise the pool for the first ranking step.

  3. In the first ranking step, each member ranks those six teams, one through six, with one being the best. The best team in each ranking receives one point, the second-best two points, and so on. The rankings are then added together, and the three teams with the fewest points will become the top three seeds. The remaining three teams are held over for the next ranking step.

  4. Each member will list the six best remaining teams, in no particular order. The three teams receiving the most votes will be added to the three teams held over to comprise the next ranking step.

  5. Steps 3 and 4 are repeated until 25 teams have been selected. There are seven rounds of voting. Each round consists of a “listing step” and a “ranking step.”


After the 25 teams have been selected, the committee ranks the teams 1-25 and places them in the playoff semifinal bowls. The team ranked No. 1 by the selection committee will play the No. 4 team in the semifinals. Team No. 2 will meet team No. 3. The committee places the top two seeds at the most advantageous sites, using criteria such as convenience of travel for fans, home-crowd advantage/disadvantage, etc.

This year, the Orange Bowl and the Cotton Bowl will serve as the two semifinal games in the four-team playoff. The National Championship game will follow on January 11 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Other Bowl Games

The committee then selects the pairings for the other bowl games based on the following considerations: geography, avoidance of regular-season rematches, benefit to fans and student-athletes, regular-season head-to-head results and conference championships.

Take a look below at the College Football Playoff Bowl Schedule for the next several years!

2016 Schedule

Orange Bowl

What: Playoff semifinal

When: Dec. 31, 4 p.m. or 8 p.m. ET

Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

Cotton Bowl

What: Playoff semifinal

When: Dec. 31, 4 p.m. or 8 p.m. ET

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

National Championship

When: Jan. 11, time TBA

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Arizona

Attend the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship!

Now that you have a refresher on how College Football Playoff works, it’s time to start thinking about attending the National Championship. After all, it will be here before we know it! With an Official Ticket Package direct from College Football Playoff Premium through QuintEvents, you can be there to witness the “Sports Event of the Year!” Get your ticket to the game, hospitality access and other VIP perks you can’t get anywhere else!


Go to the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship