College Football Playoff rankings projection: Will Washington pass Florida State?

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After last Tuesday’s swap of Ohio State and Georgia at No. 1, the College Football Playoff selection committee’s attention will shift this week to No. 4.

No. 5 in each of the first three rankings of the season, Washington’s case for the top four is stronger than ever after a hard-fought 22-20 win at Oregon State. The Huskies now have six wins against bowl teams, three coming against opponents set to land in the playoff rankings.

Depending on how far Oregon State falls and how high Arizona rises after an impressive win against Utah, each of these three wins could be seen as stronger than Florida State’s best win, against LSU in the season opener. In last week’s rankings, Oregon State was No. 11, LSU was No. 15 and Arizona was No. 17.

And Washington has the single best victory of anyone, period, in October’s 36-33 win against Oregon. Added together, the Huskies seem to have the résumé to warrant a bump into the top four.

There’s another potential factor at play: the injury to Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis. With the senior sidelined indefinitely, the committee will have to weigh the Seminoles’ record against the loss of the team’s most important player and a top Heisman Trophy contender.

There is no bigger topic this week than how the committee approaches this injury and the Seminoles’ chances moving forward. Dropping Florida State out of the top four could give a glimpse into the committee’s thinking.

Here’s how the top 10 should look on Tuesday night:

1. Georgia (11-0)

Georgia only strengthened its grasp on No. 1 after decimating Tennessee 38-10. In the past two weeks, the Bulldogs have beaten ranked SEC opponents in Mississippi and the Volunteers by a combined 63 points. This team is starting to look scary.

2. Ohio State (11-0)

That Michigan struggled to put away Maryland removed any thought of switching these two rivals heading into Saturday’s winner-take-all meeting in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes are coming off back-to-back blowouts for the first time in Big Ten play and were able to rest a good chunk of the starting lineup after Saturday’s 17-point outburst in the third quarter against Minnesota.

3. Michigan (11-0)

The Wolverines take on Ohio State on the heels of their most listless and unimpressive performance on the season in a 31-24 win against Maryland. After romping through the first nine games of the year, Michigan has posted single-digit wins against Penn State and the Terrapins. As in these two games, the Wolverines will meet the Buckeyes without suspended coach Jim Harbaugh.

4. Washington (11-0)

A move to No. 4 would be overdue, honestly. That the Huskies were stuck at No. 5 was a reflection of the committee’s wishy-washy feelings about close wins against Arizona State, Stanford and Southern California. Even if another close call, the win at Oregon State should be enough to convince the committee to look at the Huskies’ total package of wins and unbeaten record in one of the three strongest leagues in the Bowl Subdivision.

5. Florida State (11-0)

There is precedent for a Travis-like injury, and it’s good news for the Seminoles. Back in 2014, Ohio State lost quarterback J.T. Barrett to a broken ankle in the game against Michigan. Despite being down to third-string quarterback Cardale Jones, the Buckeyes were No. 4 in the final rankings and then beat Alabama and Oregon to capture the national championship. The case for the playoff was solidified by a lopsided win against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. Could the Seminoles make a similar statement against Florida and Louisville with backup Tate Rodemaker under center?

6. Oregon (10-1)

Oregon can clinch a spot in the Pac-12 championship game with a win in the Civil War against Oregon State. Beating the Beavers and avenging the earlier loss to the Huskies to finish 12-1 would make the Ducks a very strong contender for the top four nearly regardless of what happens elsewhere. And a Pac-12 title could be enough to get quarterback Bo Nix the Heisman given his off-the-charts numbers.

7. Texas (10-1)

Texas should beat Texas Tech in its Big 12 regular-season finale to reach the conference title game with just one loss. Who would be the best opponent for the Longhorns? That’s easy: Oklahoma. Playing the Sooners would give Texas the chance to offset this year’s loss in the Cotton Bowl. But it’s more likely Oklahoma State or Kansas State will be the team that gets to Arlington, Texas.

8. Alabama (10-1)

Alabama’s been pinned down at No. 8 because of the non-conference loss at home to Texas. But it’s easy to see that get tossed aside and the Crimson Tide soar into the top four with a win against Georgia to take home the SEC. It’s sometimes easy to overthink things when it comes to the playoff, but the winner of the SEC is in the top four, period. Obviously.

9. Missouri (9-2)

The Tigers are destined for a New Year’s Six bowl with a win against Arkansas. Taking one of the next two games would secure the sixth 10-win season in program history and the third as members of the SEC. Missouri hasn’t reached a New Year’s Six bowl since beating Oklahoma State in the 2014 Cotton Bowl.

10. Louisville (10-1)

The Cardinals alive in the playoff chase but it’s hard to envision a realistic scenario that lands Louisville in the top four without a bunch of chaos. Even as the one-loss ACC champions, they’d still have a hard time moving ahead of the other teams in the playoff mix, especially with the possibility of one-loss runner-ups in the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.

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