The first College Football Playoff rankings are still two weeks away, but our weekly exercise in NCAA football insanity has been around all season. Our process is explained here, and as we approach Halloween, every game takes on even more significance.

After all, why are over which team is No. 4 when we can debate which team is No. 16 instead? More teams deserve a shot at a real NCAA title in Division I college football (not the current mythical national championship), and it’s time to recognize the fact this sport is the only major sport on the planet not running a legitimate championship tournament.

(But while the money keeps rolling in, it won’t end. Wake up, America!)

This week, there were three changes in terms of participants along with some seed shuffling, too. Here is our 16-team Division I-A football championship tournament, right now after eight-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. Clemson (ACC auto)
  5. LSU (SEC at-large)
  6. Penn State* (B1G at-large)
  7. Oregon (Pac-12 auto)
  8. Notre Dame (Independent auto)
  9. Utah* (Pac-12 at-large)
  10. Texas (Big XII at-large)
  11. Central Florida (AAC auto)
  12. Boise State (MWC auto)
  13. Appalachian State (Sun Belt auto)
  14. Virginia (ACC at-large)
  15. Louisiana Tech* (C-USA auto)
  16. Western Michigan (MAC auto)

Dropped out: Wisconsin (B1G at-large), Washington (Pac-12 at-large), Florida Atlantic (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 balanced fairness.

We like to give the higher seeds a slight “regional” 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 Western Michigan vs. No. 1 Ohio State at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis
  • No. 15 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 2 Alabama at the Outback Bowl in Orlando
  • No. 14 Virginia vs. No. 3 Oklahoma at the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix
  • No. 13 Appalachian State vs. No. 4 Clemson at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta
  • No. 12 Boise State vs. No. 5 LSU in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, LA
  • No. 11 Central Florida vs. No. 6 Penn State in the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix
  • No. 10 Texas vs. No. 7 Oregon in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego
  • No. 9 Utah 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 Bowl winner at the Sun Bowl in El Paso
  • Outback winner vs. Holiday winner at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas
  • Fiesta winner vs. Cheez-It 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.

This really is too simple to not implement. The fans need to demand more legitimacy.

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