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College Football Poll Watch: Alabama and Ohio State are Locks for the Playoff, Michigan Still Alive


Just one weekend of games is all that separates us from knowing once and for all who the four teams that qualify for the College Football Playoff will be. On Tuesday night, the selection committee released its latest rankings, establishing the narrative for this weekend's games while also leaving us with a couple of questions.

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Alabama is a lock to make the College Football Playoff

The Crimson Tide have been at the top of every poll all season and have looked like the best team in the nation pretty much every weekend. Even if Florida is able to pull off a monumental upset in the SEC title game, I really don't see any way that the committee could drop Alabama outside of the top four of the final rankings. The earth is round, water is wet and Alabama will be in the College Football Playoff.

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Ohio State also is a lock

We can sit here and debate all day whether or not this should be the case, but the fact of the matter is that the current rankings basically guarantee it. The Buckeyes sit at No. 2. Should both Clemson and Washington win, they are the only two teams that could jump them. There is no possible way the Buckeyes fall out of the top four. For the second time in the three-year history of the College Football Playoff, Ohio State will have the chance to play for a national title.

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Michigan is still alive

We also can debate all debate whether or not this should be the case, but the rankings don't lie. The Wolverines have head-to-head wins over Wisconsin, Penn State and Colorado. Because of that, the committee has Michigan ahead of all three in the rankings. I don't see how the results of the Big Ten and Pac-12 Championship Games change that. If that were to be the case, you would think that the committee would already have Penn State, Wisconsin and Colorado ahead of Michigan in order to avoid any controversy, but that's not what we are seeing. The way the rankings are set up right now, a loss by either Clemson or Washington puts Michigan in the playoff.

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If head-to-head is good enough for Michigan, why isn't it good enough for Louisville?

Florida State and Louisville have identical records. When the two teams met earlier this season, the Cardinals beat the Seminoles by a score of 63-20. For some reason, the committee has Florida State ranked ahead of Louisville. I get that the Cardinals lost their last two games, but is that enough to put a team that they blew out ahead of them? If so — with Michigan losing two of its last three — why aren't Penn State, Wisconsin and Colorado ahead of the Wolverines? Some consistency from the committee would be much appreciated.

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Western Michigan finally cracks the top 20

If this season told us anything, it's that no Group of Five team will ever have a chance to play for a national championship unless they begin the season ranked somewhere in the Top 25 of the AP or Coaches Poll. Even then, it would be difficult. Thirteen teams from the AP's preseason Top 25 are nowhere to be found in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. The preseason polls have proven time and time again to be mostly inaccurate, and yet they continue to drive the narrative and dictate what is and is not a quality win throughout the season. As a result, a team like Western Michigan — not ranked in the preseason — can run the table and barely break into the playoff committee's top 20.

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In the meantime, Colorado and Penn State -- two teams that also were unranked in the preseason — can lose two games during the year and still find themselves in the top 10 at the end of the regular season. That entire process does not sit well with me — and it shouldn't sit well with you.

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on,, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.