Predicting College Football's 12 Most Likely Playoff Teams in 2024

With the debut of the annual preseason ESPN 134 team college football rankings, we look at what schools have the best chance to make the expanded playoff.
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As the College Football Playoff is set to expand to 12 teams starting this postseason, expect there to be plenty more competition than in the last decade to contend for the national championship, and now as ESPN has released its annual preseason 134-team college football rankings, we're getting more of an idea as to what teams will actually be in the race this year.

Rankings: ESPN 134-team poll | Overrated, underrated teams | Hardest schedules

As expected, the SEC is well-represented among the top-dozen schools, taking up a full 50 percent of the top-tier, with six teams getting the most favorable odds. The Big Ten follows with four teams, while the ACC gets two, and there's one very famous independent.

Just missing the cut? LSU, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss out of the SEC, although those teams sit within the top 17, while both Kansas and Kansas State also emerged just outside the prospective playoff favorites. Here are the top dozen teams favored to make the playoff, according to FPI.

Predicting College Football's 12 Most Likely Playoff Teams in 2024

12. Clemson

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Clemson's CFP odds: 26.9%. Expect another strong defensive core for the Tigers, but Garrett Riley's offense still lacks for a game-breaking wide receiver for Cade Klubnik to connect with. Bryant Wesco could emerge as that option, but until then Phil Mafah stabilizes the offense at running back.

11. Michigan

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Michigan's CFP odds: 28.5%. College football's defending champs undergo a huge makeover on the sidelines and on the roster, with head coach Sherrone Moore needing reinforcements at quarterback, offensive line, and receiver, but he has key defenders returning to form a strong core this fall.

10. Florida State

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Florida State's CFP odds: 35.9%. Mike Norvell is overseeing some turnover of his own after losing the bulk of the production that went undefeated in the regular season a year ago. But he responded with another strong transfer haul that replaces talent at key positions, most notably DJ Uiagalelei, the quarterback coming off career-high numbers last fall.

9. Oklahoma

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Oklahoma's CFP odds: 36.6%. Jackson Arnold has the skill set to be OU's next great quarterback, but there are questions around his protection working behind a new-look offensive line. Heading into the SEC, the Sooners' improved defense will have to carry some games, including trips to Auburn, Ole Miss, Missouri, and LSU, and at home against Alabama.

8. Tennessee

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Tennessee's CFP odds: 36.9%. Nico Iamaleava fully embraces the QB1 role, surrounded by top-flight skill threats and working behind an experienced line. But while the Vols' front seven expects to be solid, there are questions around lost production in the secondary.

7. Missouri

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Missouri's CFP odds: 37.3%. Coming off an 11-win season, Eli Drinkwitz is under pressure to repeat, and while he returns his quarterback and top receivers, he also loses his top rusher and some important defensive pieces, not to mention coordinator Blake Baker, who departed to resurrect LSU's defense.

6. Alabama

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Alabama's CFP odds: 57.2%. One of college football's biggest questions remains how will Nick Saban's departure affect the Crimson Tide? Kalen DeBoer has an 86% win mark in his career, but the SEC is another world. He lost key pieces on both sides, but retained Jalen Milroe at quarterback and is working with what appears to be a promising front seven rotation.

5. Notre Dame/Penn State (tie)

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CFP odds: 59.1%. Penn State brings back a strong offensive core but is making replacements on the line and at wide receiver, while its elite defense should perform well again under new leadership. Notre Dame made replacements on offense, but boasts one of college football's top pass defenses and gets a more favorable schedule this time out.

4. Ohio State

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Ohio State's CFP odds: 67.2%. Perhaps surprisingly not the top-ranked team in the Big Ten according to the FPI metrics, the Buckeyes have an edge over a rival Michigan program in transition, valuable returning skill, and a monster transfer portal haul, but also a potentially season-defining road game against Oregon in October.

3. Texas

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Texas' CFP odds: 67.8%. Heading into the SEC at just the right time, the Longhorns are bringing some serious momentum from last season: their win over Alabama, a Big 12 title, and their first playoff appearance. Now they get Quinn Ewers back under center working behind a solid line and dealing to blue-chip transfer receivers like Matthew Golden and Isaiah Bond.

2. Oregon

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Oregon's CFP odds: 76.0%. The new favorite in the expanded Big Ten, at least according to the FPI projections, the Ducks should have the speed advantage against B1G opposition at the skill positions, and play dominant football on both lines of scrimmage. Dillon Gabriel steps in as QB1 and his heir presumptive Dante Moore is right behind, with former 5-star wideout Evan Stewart coming on board, too.

1. Georgia

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Georgia's CFP odds: 79.1%. With a half-dozen returning starters and defense and nine more on offense, including quarterback Carson Beck, there's plenty of continuity at the most important positions to keep the Bulldogs in contention from start to finish. But this is a much-tougher schedule, with dates against Clemson, at Alabama, at Texas, and at Ole Miss.

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James Parks

JAMES PARKS

James Parks is the founder and publisher of College Football HQ. He previously covered football for 247Sports and CBS Interactive. College Football HQ joined the Sports Illustrated Fannation Network in 2022.