How to watch college football playoff games


No New Year’s plans? Yes, you do! The NCAA college football playoff games are on, and nothing says “glamor” or “party” like eight straight hours of televised sports. Additionally, the two semifinals on December 31 will determine the matchup for the College Football Championship game on January 9, and you don’t want to miss any important stories. Here’s everything you could want to know to take advantage of this year’s playoff events.

Saturday, December 31:

  • The No. 2 Michigan will face the No. 3 TCU at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. The game starts at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN.
  • No. 1 Georgia will face No. 4 Ohio State in the Peach Bowl in (where else?) Atlanta. The game starts at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

The winners of those matches will meet on Monday, January 9 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., for the championship game.

It’s not the World Cup, okay? The college football playoff structure is still relatively new (more on that later) and while the brackets will likely expand later, four is all we’re getting now. At least they’re easy to follow. Let’s meet them:

#1: Georgia Bulldogs

The school: The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia

Conference: SECOND

Claim to fame: They are the reigning national champions, an unstoppable force, and at No. 1, are the favorites to win it all again

Strength of the mascot: 8/10. « Go Dawgs » has a nice ringtone (or a creepy ringtone, if you’re not, say, a Georgia fan but live within 250 miles of metro Atlanta). They also have a live bulldog mascot, Uga, who always looks tired and worried. Very relevant. Would you fight a real bulldog? Probably not, because it sounds cruel.

Color Combo Strength: 10/10. You can’t go wrong with black and red, the classic colors of strength and violence.

Player to know: Stetson quarterback Fleming Bennett IV, whose name sounds like it was spat out by an AI trained in 19th-century British peerage and « Yellowstone » characters. Bennett was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy this year, the highest personal honor for a college football player. He is also 25 years old. College football!

No. 2: Michigan Wolverines

The school: The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Conference: Big Ten

Claim to fame: Tom Brady played there, as did current coach Jim Harbaugh.

Strength of the mascot: 8/10. Wolverines are described as « solitary » and « muscular » animals, which is a weird set of adjectives, but good for football assuming they can develop teamwork skills. Even the University of Michigan itself isn’t quite sure why they’re called the Wolverines, which lends an air of chaotic mystery to the whole thing. Would you fight a real wolverine? No, they look very mean.

Color Combo Strength: 6/10. Blue and Gold/Yellow is another classic color combination, but this has been done in a punchier and more powerful way. However, points for the school’s official yellow shade, which is called « Michigan Maize. »

Player to know: Running back Blake Corum. He suffered a torn meniscus earlier this season and will not play in the playoffs. But you can still look smart during the game shaking your head in shame that Corum will miss the chance and wondering out loud whether he’ll come back to Michigan when he’s better, or head straight for the draft. of the NFL.

#3: TCU Horned Frogs

The school: Texas Christian University at Fort Worth

Conference: Big 12

Claim to fame: I don’t know

Strength of the mascot: 6/10. Listen, we love a unique mascot. Horned frogs? So Texas. Apparently, the mascot comes from an old legend that when the school football program started, the football field was once covered with little guys. Would you fight a real horned frog? Of course not. One on one just wouldn’t be a fair fight, and taking on an entire football field would be a bit too biblical. You definitely don’t want to fight the person wearing the horned frog mascot costume either. Imagine this being the last thing you saw in your earthly life:

No, please -- not the children.

Color Combo Strength: 8/10. Purple is always a nice change of palette, and they make for fun horned frog inspired designs.

Player to know: Quentin Johnston, who is one of the best wide receivers in the country. 247 Sports describes him as « an incredibly bouncy athlete, » which makes a lot more (well, a little more) sense when you learn that he also excelled in basketball and the high jump.

No. 4: Ohio State Buckeyes

The school: Ohio State University in Columbus

Conference: Big Ten

Claim to fame: They won college football’s first national playoff championship in 2014. They also have one of the most intense fanbases in college football, and you can identify them because they’re the ones who insist that it’s true. is « THE Ohio State ».

Strength of the mascot: 3/10. It’s a chestnut tree. ONE NUT, for God’s sake. Or a delicious regional treat, if you’re talking about chocolate covered peanut butter balls. You would never have reason to fight a chestnut tree anyway. But you would definitely win. (Not if it was the on-field mascot, though. Brutus the Buckeye is terrifying. Not in a « college sports titan » way, but more of a « sleep paralysis demon » way.)


Color Combo Strength: 4/10. Technically, OSU’s colors are gray and scarlet, but on the field they’re mostly white and red.

Player to know: Quarterback CJ Stroud, who is already being touted as one of the NFL’s top draft picks for next year. He’s a two-time Heisman finalist and collected all sorts of other accolades while at Ohio State.

The college football playoff national championship system is still fairly new. Prior to 2014, the college postseason system was called the Bowl Championship Series. This consisted of multiple playoff bowl games, with the top teams competing in the BCS National Championship game. The BCS was not popular as the method of selecting teams to compete was frustrating and opaque. The NCAA used a few different ranking polls and computer algorithms to determine which teams played which and where. Now, under the College Football Playoff model, things are a little simpler.

It all comes down to the discernment of Harold the Playoff Wombat. Near the end of each football season, NCAA officials visit Harold at his habitat outside Indianapolis and present him with a display of identical, equidistant hard-boiled eggs. Each egg is named after a top-ranked school, and the first four eggs Harold eats determine the teams and order of the playoff roster.

The NCAA is looking to a 13-member selection committee made up of professional college football experts. Using metrics such as ranking polls, winning record, and schedule strength, members vote for the top four teams.

However, there is still a whole host of other bowling matches for the best in the various football conferences. So just because your team misses the playoffs doesn’t mean they can’t earn honor and glory in, say, the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl.

The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California -- the stadium to start it all

It’s not just because football stadiums are shaped like bowls! Where would the comparisons stop? The NFL’s Super Roomba? The college football playoff tub?

(It’s done is because they are shaped like bowls.)

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