The latter stages of any college football season are full of excitement, and 2019 is no exception. Last weekend, we saw three major developments: Baylor and Minnesota lost to drop from the ranks of the undefeated, and Alabama lost its starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate.
These results mix up a lot for both the corrupt College Football Playoff and our system projection here. It’s time to recognize the fact this sport is the only major sport on the planet not running a legitimate championship tournament.
We stick to the maths, even if our eyes and brains tell us something else—picking Michigan over Penn State and Wisconsin, both of whom beat the Wolverines but have played weaker schedules, was difficult, for example. Memphis also squeaked in ahead of Central Florida (for now).
Since last week, there have been some changes (denoted by an asterisk below for new teams to the tournament), and there should be more volatility in the next few weeks.
- Ohio State (B1G auto)
- Clemson (ACC auto)
- Alabama (SEC at-large)
- LSU (SEC auto)
- Oklahoma (Big XII auto)
- Oregon (Pac-12 auto)
- Michigan* (BIG at-large)
- Utah (Pac-12 at-large)
- Notre Dame (Independent auto)
- Baylor (Big XII at-large)
- Memphis* (AAC auto)
- Boise State (MWC auto)
- Miami-FL (ACC at-large)
- Appalachian State (Sun Belt auto)
- Florida Atlantic (C-USA auto)
- Western Michigan (MAC auto)
Dropped out: Central Florida (AAC auto), Penn State (B1G at-large)
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: There will be no stacking of conference also-ran “pretenders” in our championship tourney.
We like to give the higher seeds a slight “regional” advantage for this first round only. We also switched Michigan and Utah in the seedings, to avoid a rematch of the Irish and the Wolverines.
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 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 2 Clemson at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta
- No. 14 Appalachian State vs. No. 3 Alabama at the Outback Bowl in Orlando
- No. 13 Miami-FL vs. No. 4 LSU at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport
- No. 12 Boise State vs. No. 5 Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix
- No. 11 Memphis vs. No. 6 Oregon in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego
- No. 10 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Utah in the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix
- No. 9 Baylor vs. No. 8 Michigan in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando
(And yeah, we wanted that Fiesta Bowl “rematch” between the Sooner and the Broncos!)
The second round/quarterfinals will require just four bowl sites, so we choose the next four oldest traditional bowls to host them on December 28, using slotted pairings (no re-seeding for upsets):
- Liberty winner vs. Camping World winner at the Sun Bowl in El Paso
- Peach winner vs. Cheez-It winner at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas
- Holiday winner vs. Outback 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, the Grandaddy of Them All. All the other superfluous bowls could continue if they choose to, inviting non-playoff teams, and college football fans can 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.