Battling with election night in the United States, the second release of the College Football Playoff Rankings gave us all a break from the political banter on Tuesday night.
Alabama remained the No. 1 team in the nation per the CFP Selection Committee, while Clemson held pat at No. 2, Michigan stayed at No. 3 and Washington earned its rightful spot at No. 4. Ohio State, which some believed had a chance to crack the top four, and Louisville were the first two out.
The battle for No. 4 came down to Washington and Ohio State. That was presumably a close call for No. 5 last week, too. The Huskies came out on top this week, but in the long term, Ohio State will finish ahead of Washington if both win out.
Should that happen, the Buckeyes will have played and beaten Michigan and likely Wisconsin again to get to 12-1. Washington, which has a schedule that is considerably worse than Ohio State's already, won't be able to match either of those opponents.
The good news for the Huskies is that if they finish 13-0 and as the Pac-12 champion, there is no way the loser of the Ohio State-Michigan game stays ahead of them.
Washington could be this year's version of Florida State from the first College Football Playoff season of 2014. The Seminoles were the only undefeated team that year but finished fourth in the rankings. Some wondered if they would make it at all. I believe, though, that the committee will not leave out an undefeated major conference team as long as there aren't five of them. I don't think Washington will be the first.
Let's check out the entire top 25 of the and then discuss some of the surprises lower down in the rankings.
1. Alabama (9-0)
2. Clemson (9-0)
3. Michigan (9-0)
4. Washington (9-0)
5. Ohio State (8-1)
6. Louisville (8-1)
7. Wisconsin (7-2)
8. Texas A&M (7-2)
9. Auburn (7-2)
10. Penn State (7-2)
11. Oklahoma (7-2)
12. Colorado (7-2)
13. Oklahoma State (7-2)
14. Virginia Tech (7-2)
15. Utah (7-2)
16. West Virginia (7-1)
17. North Carolina (7-2)
18. Florida State (6-3)
19. Nebraska (7-2)
20. USC (6-3)
21. Western Michigan (9-0)
22. Boise State (8-1)
23. Washington State (7-2)
24. LSU (5-3)
25. Arkansas (6-3)
Texas A&M only fell four spots to No. 8, presumably because of the win at No. 9 Auburn. Apparently that trumped the Aggies' loss to the worst team in the division in Mississippi State on Saturday.
LSU fell 11 spots to No. 24 after a valiant effort against No. 1 Alabama. However, this feels like a correction. The Tigers were probably too high last week. Their best win is either Ole Miss or Southern Miss, both of which were played in Baton Rouge.
Nebraska got hammered, too, falling from No. 10 to No. 19, and I would guess that the committee felt that Ohio State exposed the Cornhuskers. Like LSU, there isn't much in the quality win department for Nebraska. It has beaten Wyoming at home and won at Indiana. That's not much to write home about.
The biggest drop was Florida, which fell out of the rankings entirely after being ranked No. 11 last week. The Gators fell to Arkansas in a game that wasn't terribly competitive. The Hogs are No. 25 this week, despite having one more loss than Florida, so obviously that head-to-head result meant something to the committee.
One team that jumped up for no obvious reason was USC. The Trojans came out of nowhere to land in the No. 20 spot in the rankings. USC downed Oregon at home last week, which isn't usually the kind of thing that moves the meter unless a bunch of teams ahead of them lose or play worse opponents. That didn't happen, so this also feels like a correction from last week to some degree.
Utah seems to have had a bad week off because they were jumped by Oklahoma State (beat Kansas State) and Virginia Tech (won at Duke).