Expansion may have been tabled amid conference realignment talks, but the College Football Playoff regardless is stronger than ever, heading into its eighth season as the premier event in college football.
The Playoff in 2021 returns to some semblance of normalcy, a year after the COVID-19 pandemic not only forced the relocation of a semifinal game from its traditional, historic venue, but also necessitating half-empty stadiums for the semifinals and championship game. With that in mind, perhaps fans won’t mind the four-team venue for another season or so.
Or maybe not.
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Regardless of the final format of the Playoff, there are still important locations and dates to know, not only with the bowls but also the weekly top 25 team unveilings. Say what you want about the current format of the Playoff, but it sure knows how to build momentum — and excitement — toward the end of the season.
Sporting News has all the important dates and locations to know for 2021:
When are the CFP rankings released?
The first set of College Football Playoff rankings will be on Tuesday, Nov. 2. The rankings schedule for 2021 is as follows:
|Tuesday, Nov. 2||7 p.m.|
|Tuesday, Nov. 9||9 p.m.*|
|Tuesday, Nov. 16||7 p.m.|
|Tuesday, Nov. 23||7 p.m.|
|Tuesday, Nov. 30||7 p.m.|
|Sunday, Dec. 5||Noon|
*The second set of Playoff rankings will air between games at the Champions Classic.
When is the College Football Playoff selection show?
Selection day for the College Football Playoff is Sunday, Dec. 5, the day after conference championship weekend concludes. Unlike the five previous rankings unveilings, the show will take four hours. The top 25 will be unveiled starting with 25 and moving toward No. 1, though the format for unveiling the final Playoff pairings remains to be seen.
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Where are the CFP semifinals games in 2021?
The eighth year of the Playoff will see semifinals hosted at the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla., and Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. It will be the third and fourth time those venues (Hard Rock Stadium and AT&T Stadium) have hosted semifinal games, respectively. (The latter hosted the Rose Bowl Game in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions in California. Both games will take place on Dec. 31).
As for what teams play where, that will be decided by the No. 1 overall seed in the Playoff. It will choose to host the 4 seed in either the Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl, leaving the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds to play in the other.
The other four bowls that make up the New Year’s Day 6 are the Peach, Rose, Sugar and Fiesta bowls.
College Football Playoff semifinals
|Orange Bowl||Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)||Dec. 31, 2021|
|Cotton Bowl||AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)||Dec. 31, 2021|
New Year’s Day 6 bowls
|Peach Bowl||Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)||Dec. 30, 2021|
|Rose Bowl||Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)||Jan. 1, 2022|
|Sugar Bowl||Caesars Superdome (New Orleans)||Jan. 1, 2022|
|Fiesta Bowl||State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)||Jan. 1, 2022|
Where is the CFP championship game in 2021?
- Location: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
This year’s College Football Championship game is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 10, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It will be the first time the championship is held at that venue.
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Lowest-ranked team in initial rankings to make Playoff
A trend has emerged in recent years in which teams hoping to make the Playoff must reach a certain threshold at the time CFP rankings are released for the first time: In each of the last five seasons, the lowest-ranked team in the first set of rankings has been among the top nine teams. Moreover, four of those five seasons saw said team ranked at least in the top seven.
That’s a far cry from the first two seasons, in which Ohio State and Oklahoma made the 2014 and 2015 Playoffs with initial rankings of 16 and 15, respectively:
|Season||Team||Initial CFP rank|
Who is on the CFP committee?
The CFP committee features 14 members in 2021. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta is the chairman. The committee includes five new members this year, including Mitch Barnhart, Boo Corrigan, Chris Del Conte, Will Shields and Joe Taylor.
Below is the full list of members for 2021, and their titles:
|Gary Barta (Chairman)||Iowa athletic director|
|Mitch Barnhart||Kentucky athletic director|
|Tom Burman||Wyoming athletic director|
|Paola Boivin||Arizona State professor|
|Rick George||Colorado athletic director|
|Charlie Cobb||Georgia State athletic director|
|Boo Corrigan||N.C. State athletic director|
|Chris Del Conte||Texas athletic director|
|Will Shields||Former Nebraska All-American|
|Joe Taylor||Virginia Union athletic director|
|Todd Stansbury||Georgia Tech athletic director|
|Rod West||Entergy Corporation president|
|John Urschel||Former Penn State All-American|
|Tyrone Willingham||Former Stanford, Notre Dame, Washington coach|