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Here’s our College Football Playoff 4 right now, just before real rankings come out

Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, and Washington have set themselves apart. The first official Playoff ranking comes out Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

The College Football Playoff committee will release its inaugural 2016 ranking on Tuesday night. That’s when we expect the committee will formalize a current top four including Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, and Washington, whose paths to the Playoff have all become exceedingly clear.

There’s still time for things to change. But those are your four unbeaten power conference teams, so their paths are the simplest. Here’s how our staff slots them after Week 9, not even two days before the ranking that matters comes out:


No. 1 No. 2 No. 3 No. 4
Alex Kirshner Alabama Michigan Clemson Washington
Bill Connelly Alabama Michigan Clemson Washington
Bud Elliott Alabama Clemson Michigan Washington
Dan Rubenstein Alabama Michigan Washington Clemson
Jason Kirk Alabama Michigan Clemson Washington
Jeanna Thomas Alabama Clemson Washington Michigan
Luke Zimmermann Alabama Michigan Clemson Washington
Matt Brown Alabama Michigan Clemson Washington
Morgan Moriarty Alabama Clemson Michigan Washington
Richard Johnson Alabama Michigan Clemson Washington
Ryan Nanni Alabama Michigan Clemson Washington
Sarah Hardy Alabama Clemson Washington Michigan
Spencer Hall Alabama Clemson Michigan Washington
Steven Godfrey Alabama Michigan Washington Clemson
Wescott Eberts Alabama Michigan Clemson Washington

There's some mild disagreement between slots two and four, but everyone's got the same four participants. We've got Alabama first, then Michigan, Clemson, and Washington. That order aligns with the major polls this week.

Our usual methodology applies here. This is a selection of teams in a world where the season just ended, which is not how things actually work. At least four or five teams on the outside still have perfectly reasonable chances to work their way into the field, and the next five weeks could invite all sorts of drama.

That's the topic of the selection show we did on Facebook Live on Monday morning. Ryan Nanni and I talked over the teams with the best chances to sneak into the field, and we pretty much agreed that Louisville and Ohio State have the clearest paths. Also discussed: Could Western Michigan row its way into the Playoff (probably not, but hey), and which of the current Playoff teams could most afford a loss down the stretch? (We disagreed on that front.)

Are we wrong? Are we not? Let us know in the comments.