This weekly exercise is explained here, and as we start October, it’s time for more intense battles within conference schedules and rivalries. This means familiarity ensues and brings with it more potential for havoc in the craziest sport on the planet.

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 five-plus weeks of regular-season action (asterisks indicate new teams since last week’s rendition of this list):

  1. Ohio State (B1G auto)
  2. Alabama (SEC auto)
  3. Oklahoma (Big XII auto)
  4. Penn State* (B1G at-large)
  5. Clemson (ACC auto)
  6. Auburn* (SEC at-large)
  7. Oregon (Pac-12 auto)
  8. Notre Dame (Independent auto)
  9. Washington (Pac-12 at-large)
  10. Texas (Big XII 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. Florida Atlantic* (C-USA auto)

Dropped out: Wisconsin (B1G at-large), Georgia (SEC at-large), 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 would like to give the higher seeds a slight home-field advantage for this first round only. 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 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 1 Ohio State at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis
  • No. 15 Toledo vs. No. 2 Alabama at the Outback Bowl in Orlando
  • No. 14 Appalachian State vs. No. 3 Oklahoma at the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix
  • No. 13 Miami-FL vs. No. 4 Penn State at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta
  • No. 12 Boise State vs. No. 5 Clemson in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport
  • No. 11 Central Florida vs. No. 6 Auburn in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando
  • No. 10 Texas vs. No. 7 Oregon in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego
  • No. 9 Washington vs. No. 8 Notre Dame in the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix

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. Cheez-It winner at the Sun Bowl in El Paso
  • Outback winner vs. Holiday winner at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas
  • Fiesta winner vs. Camping World winner at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville
  • Independence winner vs. Peach 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? If only the NCAA could make it a thing … ASAP!

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