College Football: Conferences and Bowl Games
1. There are A LOT of teams, because, well, almost every college has a team. To keep them organized, there are divisions and then conferences. The top division is the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Of the conferences in the FBS, there are six major ones: the Southeastern Conference, the Big XII, the Big 10, the Pac-12, the Big East, and the Atlantic Coast Conference.
2. The goal is to win the College Football Playoff National Championship. Four teams get to play in the playoff series (semifinals and finals), and a selection committee of coaches, players, and athletic directors chooses the four.
This year, the four teams are Alabama, Washington, Clemson, and Ohio State.
3. A selection committee is necessary because there is no other way to rank all the teams across the multiple conferences. During the regular season, teams only play other teams within the same conference. The committee primarily evaluates the teams' records and the strengths of the opponents they've faced.
4. Teams that played well but not well enough to be in the top four can play in a bowl game. The bowl games provide a stage for the champions of the different conferences to compete for prestige and publicity. There are 41 bowl games total, and the six major bowl games are known as the New Year's Six: Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Peach Bowl.