An undefeated record does not equate to one of the four best teams in the country, according to the College Football Playoff selection committee, which ranked one-loss Texas A&M at No. 4 ahead of undefeated No. 5 Washington in its first ranking of the season.
There are two SEC teams in the top four, with No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Michigan topping the list. That means if the playoff happened today, there would be a rematch between the two best teams in the SEC West, as No. 1 Alabama would play No. 4 Texas A&M in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Meanwhile, Clemson and Michigan would square off in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Aggies’ lone loss this season was at Alabama on Oct. 22, when A&M fell 33-14. Although Washington remains undefeated, the Huskies have only one road win against a ranked opponent (Utah) and the worst nonconference schedule in the country, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.
Washington is followed by No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Louisville in the CFP ranking. The highest-ranked Big 12 team is Oklahoma at No. 14.
Here’s what the bracket would look like if the playoff were today:
As for the other major bowls, here’s a projection based on the current ranking:
The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual still gets the Pac-12 champ, which would be No. 5 Washington, and because No. 3 Michigan is in the semifinal, the Rose Bowl would host the next-best Big Ten team: No. 6 Ohio State.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl is guaranteed the Big 12 champ, which would be No. 14 Oklahoma, but because the SEC champ and Texas A&M are both in the semifinals, the Sugar Bowl would take the next-highest SEC team, No. 9 Auburn.
The Capital One Orange Bowl is guaranteed the ACC champion, but because Clemson is in a semifinal, the Orange Bowl would take the next-highest ACC team, No. 7 Louisville. The Orange Bowl then chooses the next-highest team from the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame. In this case, it would be No. 8 Wisconsin.
The highest-ranked Group of 5 champion is guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl. As such, No. 23 Western Michigan would go to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, which can then choose an at-large team from any FBS conference, and No. 10 Nebraska is the highest-ranked team available.
Here’s what New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day would look like, based on today’s rankings:
8 p.m. ET: Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
3 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Texas A&M
3 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Michigan
1 p.m. ET: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 10 Nebraska vs. No. 23 Western Michigan
5 p.m. ET: Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual: No. 5 Washington vs. No. 6 Ohio State
8:30 p.m. ET: Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 9 Auburn vs. No. 14 Oklahoma