Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Jan 8, 2023; Los Angeles, CA, USA; The 2023 CFP National Championship trophy at head coaches press conference at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024-2025 season will see the College Football Playoff expand from four to 12 teams.

That means the top five conference champions and seven at-large teams will compete for a National Championship. The top four conference champions secure a first-round bye, with the remaining teams seeded based on ranking and facing off at the higher seed’s home stadium.

Last season, Liberty was the highest-ranked Group of Five team. Jamey Chadwell’s team went a perfect 13-0 in the regular season, winning the USA Conference and earning a New Year’s Six bowl bid. That saw the Flames get boat raced by Oregon 45-6 in the Fiesta Bowl.

A season later, and with an expanded playoff field, some analysts believe that Liberty could run roughshod through the cUSA yet again with a relatively light schedule. In turn, Liberty could earn another bid—but this time for a chance to play in a College Football Playoff game.

Some analysts, like Chip Patterson of CBS Sports, believe that Liberty could even win a playoff game.

“The Liberty Flames are going to be the first Cinderella of the 12-team college football era,” said Patterson. “Here’s how I see it: I think Liberty’s going to be able to claim that spot as the fifth-highest-ranked conference champion. I think they’re going to bulldoze their way through Conference USA. And then, when they get there, who is Liberty going to be playing? Because as I look at the format with four conference champions getting the top four seeds, the chances are the team that Liberty would be playing a team that has lost in either the SEC or Big Ten Championship Game. So you’ve lost a heartbreaker to another heavyweight.

“And now you gotta go up, and you got to go against Jamey Chadwell, who’s had two weeks to put together a gameplan with Kaidon Salter running the show for that offense. I think that this is going to be where we embrace the 12-team playoff; it’s with a first-round upset. And I think Liberty has the coach, the quarterback, and the team to be able to go get it done.”

Obviously, that’s a bold prediction.

It remains to be seen if a Liberty team, whose most challenging stretch of games is against UTEP, East Carolin, and App. State can go on the road and upset an SEC team in front of 80,000-100,000 opposing fans. If last year’s Fiesta Bowl is any indication — and that came out a neutral site — perhaps this task may be too tall for Chadwell and Co.

Liberty going on the road and beating either, say, Texas or Oregon may be one of the craziest things to ever happen in college football. But perhaps anarchy exists in the age of the 12-team playoff.

[CBS Sports College Football]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.