With one week left in the college football regular season, there is still a lot to be decided in the mythical national championship. Big rivalry games await much of our projected field, and then there are also the conference title matchups in Week 15. Exciting!

Week 13 saw one big upset, although it didn’t affect our rankings too much, thanks to the balance we provide in our process. The Oregon Ducks dropped a little, though, and we had one new team joining the rankings (denoted by an asterisk below).

  1. Ohio State (B1G auto)
  2. Clemson (ACC auto)
  3. LSU (SEC auto)
  4. Alabama (SEC at-large)
  5. Utah (Pac-12 auto)
  6. Oklahoma (Big XII auto)
  7. Michigan (BIG at-large)
  8. Oregon (Pac-12 at-large)
  9. Notre Dame (Independent auto)
  10. Baylor (Big XII at-large)
  11. Memphis (AAC auto)
  12. Boise State (MWC auto)
  13. Appalachian State (Sun Belt auto)
  14. Virginia* (ACC at-large)
  15. Florida Atlantic (C-USA auto)
  16. Western Michigan (MAC auto)

Dropped out: Miami-FL (ACC 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. 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 Virginia vs. No. 3 LSU at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport
  • No. 13 Appalachian State vs. No. 4 Alabama at the Outback Bowl in Orlando
  • No. 12 Boise State vs. No. 5 Utah in the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix
  • No. 11 Memphis vs. No. 6 Oklahoma in the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix
  • No. 10 Baylor vs. No. 7 Michigan in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando
  • No. 9 Notre Dame vs. No. 8 Oregon in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego

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