College Football Playoffs Bracket 2022 | Simulating 16-Team CFB Playoff

Posted: Apr 12, 2022Last updated: Apr 12, 2022

In a perfect world, college football would have its very own version of March Madness.

The top 64 (or 68) teams would be ranked, a giant bracket would be concocted, and a champion would be crowned over the course of four-to-six weeks.

Given the logistical challenges facing said tournament, we will likely never see a bracket this size. Sixteen teams? Perhaps. But we have a long way to go until we get there.

That doesn’t mean we can’t ponder what it would look like, though, and we’ve done just that. Here’s how:

  • Our bracket uses results, talent, momentum, and matchups from the 2021-22 season.
  • Regions and seeding is borrowed from the March Madness format.

Oh, and we’re not done. We’ve also broken down these hypothetical college football Sweet 16 games — the kind of offseason content we all adore.

CFP Bracket West Region

  1. Cincinnati
  2. Baylor
  3. Utah
  4. Arkansas
  5. BYU
  6. Utah State
  7. Texas A&M
  8. UCLA
  9. Air Force
  10. SMU
  11. Washington State
  12. Mississippi State
  13. Boise State
  14. Northern Illinois
  15. Wyoming
  16. Virginia

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West College Football Playoffs: Sweet 16

No. 1 Cincinnati vs No. 4 Arkansas

If you enjoy the thought of this hypothetical matchup, I come with good news. Cincinnati and Arkansas will meet on the actual football field to kick off the 2022 season. It’s one of the highlights of a loaded Week 1. As for this game, well, it would be a doozy.

While the Bearcats were undone by Alabama in the College Football Playoff, the defense would certainly be up for this. Cornerback Ahmad Gardner would be a problem for the Hogs, as he was for, well, everyone. But Arkansas, led by QB KJ Jefferson, would not go down quietly.

I know we’re tying these games to last year, but I cannot wait for this come fall.

No. 2 Baylor vs No. 3 Utah

Sure, the Rose Bowl didn’t exactly close the way Utah would have liked, but don’t let that blind you from what a tremendous year it was. With that established, it’s hard to envision a better Sweet 16 than this.

Dave Aranda led Baylor to a 12-win season, and Utah would certainly be a fitting challenger in many ways. If you like hitting and defense and just quality football play all around, this would be the game for you.
Few programs had more momentum than these two toward the end of the year.

West Winner: No. 2 Baylor

Toward the end of the season, few teams were playing better. The Bears crack the Final Four with a win over Cincinnati to take the West.

CFP Bracket East Region

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Kentucky
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Purdue
  8. Coastal Carolina
  9. Minnesota
  10. Tennessee
  11. Penn State
  12. East Carolina
  13. Nevada
  14. Liberty
  15. Miami
  16. Marshall

East College Football Playoffs: Sweet 16

No. 1 Alabama vs No. 4 Pittsburgh

Let’s assume that Kenny Pickett doesn’t opt-out of this bracket in our hypothetical world. If that’s the case, perhaps he gives Pitt a chance against mighty Alabama. Perhaps.

The issue, however, is that Nick Saban’s team likely has the edge at pretty much every other position. QB Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson Jr., perhaps the No. 1 and No. 2 overall draft picks in 2023, would be a real problem here.

No. 2 Ohio State vs No. 6 Wisconsin

There’s nothing quite like a little Big Ten action in the Sweet 16, and that is precisely what we have here. After a slow start, Wisconsin closed the regular season by winning eight of nine games.

The problem? The Badgers now play Ohio State.

With so many weapons and quarterback C.J. Stroud poised for liftoff, this is not an ideal matchup. And while we are looking back rather than looking ahead, this feels like a 2022 Big Ten Championship matchup in the making.

East Winner: No. 1 Alabama

Alabama takes down Ohio State to reach the Final Four. The game certainly would do well on the ratings front, and it would likely be plenty entertaining given the quality of quarterbacks.

College Football Bracket 16-team

College Football Bracket 16-team Printable PDF

CFP Bracket South Region

  1. Georgia
  2. Notre Dame
  3. Ole Miss
  4. Clemson
  5. Houston
  6. Wake Forest
  7. San Diego State
  8. UTSA
  9. Appalachian State
  10. UAB
  11. South Carolina
  12. Georgia State
  13. Oregon State
  14. UCF
  15. Auburn
  16. Kent State

South College Football Playoffs: Sweet 16

No. 1 Georgia vs No. 4 Clemson

The No. 1 overall seed, Georgia, makes it to the Sweet 16. Greeting the Bulldogs is a rematch from Week 1 of last year — a game that was driven by defense.

While a 4-seed is not something we expected to see out of Clemson, the Tigers rallied after some early defeats with a strong close. The issue in this game, however, is somewhat familiar for Dabo Swinney’s team.

Where will the offense come from against a historically good defense?

No. 2 Notre Dame vs No. 3 Ole Miss

A lot of people would watch this game, and I would certainly be one of them. Notre Dame’s superb season hit a roadblock in the bowl when Marcus Freeman watched his team blow a lead in his first game as head coach.

Lane Kiffin’s bowl game didn’t go much better when QB Matt Corral went down, although a healthy Corral could be all Ole Miss needs to win here.

South Winner: No. 1 Georgia

In an all-SEC Elite 8, Georgia takes down Ole Miss to crack the Final Four. While Kiffin would have plenty up his sleeve, it’s simply not enough.

CFP Bracket Midwest Region

  1. Michigan
  2. Oklahoma State
  3. Michigan State
  4. Louisiana
  5. Oregon
  6. Iowa
  7. NC State
  8. Fresno State
  9. Western Kentucky
  10. Army
  11. Kansas State
  12. Western Michigan
  13. Arizona State
  14. Central Michigan
  15. LSU
  16. Memphis

Midwest College Football Playoffs: Sweet 16

No. 1 Michigan vs No. 4 Louisiana

The No. 1 seed in the Midwest is also likely soon to have delivered the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Yes, Aidan Hutchinson would be a problem in pretty much any game, but especially in this game.

Louisiana won’t have an answer for him. That being said, it’s hard to argue with 13 straight wins, which is what the Ragin’ Cajuns accomplished to close out the year.

Great season, great story. But here comes the first “L” in a while.

No. 2 Oklahoma State vs No. 3 Michigan State

Another matchup very much in the running for the must-see game of the round. Oklahoma State, of course, completed a thrilling come-from-behind win against Notre Dame to close out its season.

Assuming Kenneth Walker III plays, Michigan State has a chance. The team’s star running back carried Sparty this year, and he would need to again while going up against one of the best defenses in the country.

Pokes win.

Midwest Winner: No. 1 Michigan

Although the Wolverines were embarrassed by Georgia, they rally to reach the Final Four with a win over Oklahoma State. There would be plenty of defense played in that game.

College Football Playoffs National Championship: No. 1 Alabama vs No. 1 Georgia

The result of last year’s championship game was no fluke. The two best teams in college football played. Simple as that.

Alabama takes out Baylor in its Final Four matchup, and Georgia takes down Michigan once again in the hypothetical bracket. Michigan, I am sorry.

In terms of similarities, let’s take it one step further. Georgia once again conquers Alabama in this format to win a national title. The enhanced field gives us plenty of other fun games, but the outcome is the same.

The Bulldogs win. Again.

CFB playoff bracket filled out for a 16-team playoff


Adam Kramer

Adam Kramer is an NFL, college football, and gambling analyst for The Game Day. While college football has long been his calling, he’s also covered sports such as boxing, horse racing, and baseball at The Game Day and in other places. He’s also written for Bleacher Report, VSiN, and various other outlets over the past decade-plus.

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