This weekly exercise is explained here, and as we reach the end of September this weekend, the high-seeded teams remain mostly the same, while there is always jockeying for position among the low-seeded teams.

And that’s the point. Instead of arguing over No. 4, let’s argue over No. 16 instead. More teams deserve a shot at the mythical national championship, and it’s time to recognize the fact college football is the only major sport on the planet that isn’t legitimately running a championship tournament to decide its title winner.

Here is the way we see a 16-team Division I-A football championship tournament, right now after four weeks of regular-season action:

  1. Alabama (SEC auto)
  2. Ohio State (B1G auto)
  3. Clemson (ACC auto)
  4. Oklahoma (Big XII auto)
  5. Georgia (SEC at-large)
  6. Wisconsin (B1G at-large)
  7. Oregon (Pac-12 auto)
  8. Notre Dame (Independent auto)
  9. Texas (Big XII at-large)
  10. Washington (Pac-12 at-large)
  11. Central Florida (AAC auto)
  12. Boise State (MWC auto)
  13. Miami-FL (ACC at-large)
  14. Appalachian State (Sun Belt auto)
  15. Toledo (MAC auto)
  16. Marshall (C-USA auto)

Remember, we aim for balance in the at-large slots, so each Power 5 conference gets a second bid. Unlike major-media outlets like ESPN that have vested financial interest in pimping certain conferences’ perceived strength, we go for objective fairness.

We are going to switch UCF and Washington, however, to avoid a first-round matchup between conference rivals. Thus, the preliminary first-round matchups would take place at mid-tier bowl games as follows, to be played on December 21, a full two weeks after the conference title matches:

  • No. 16 Marshall vs. No. 1 Alabama at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis
  • No. 15 Toledo vs. No. 2 Ohio State at the Outback Bowl in Orlando
  • No. 14 Appalachian State vs. No. 3 Clemson at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta
  • No. 13 Miami-FL vs. No. 4 Oklahoma at the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix
  • No. 12 Boise State vs. No. 5 Georgia in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport
  • No. 11 Washington vs. No. 6 Wisconsin in the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix
  • No. 10 Central Florida vs. No. 7 Oregon in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego
  • No. 9 Texas vs. No. 8 Notre Dame in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando

The second round/quarterfinals will require just four bowl sites, so we choose the next four oldest bowls to host them on December 28:

  • Liberty winner vs. Camping World winner at the Sun Bowl in El Paso
  • Outback winner vs. Holiday winner at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas
  • Peach winner vs. Cheez-It winner at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville
  • Independence winner vs. Fiesta winner at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando

The semifinals celebrate the traditions of two major bowls, second only to the Rose, and these games would be played on January 4:

  • Sun winner vs. Citrus winner at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans
  • Cotton winner vs. Gator winner at the Orange Bowl in Miami

The final will be played on January 11 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. All the other superfluous bowls could continue if they choose to by inviting non-playoff teams, and college football could have the best of both worlds.

See how easy that is?

Check back every Wednesday for new CFP analysis and projections this season!