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College Football Playoff prediction: Michigan and Washington are in. Who fills out top four?

Welcome to the most controversial selection process in the history of the College Football Playoff.

The selection committee has three options. Unfortunately, not one of them is good.

Let’s begin with what we know. Michigan is in the playoff after chewing up Iowa for the Big Ten championship. Washington is also in after taking a classic rematch against Oregon. Those will be your two top seeds.

What comes next will get ugly. The playoff has three teams for the remaining two spots: Texas, Alabama and Florida State. No matter what, one of the biggest names in the sport will be left on the outside — and there’s a chance the most dominant conference in the country won’t be represented, either.

The arguments are easy. Texas beat Alabama. Alabama won the SEC, beating Georgia along the way. Florida State is one of three Power Five unbeaten teams, along with the Wolverines and Huskies.

The decision will be difficult, and how things unfold on Sunday is just about anyone’s guess.

1. Michigan (13-0)

There will definitely be an argument for bumping Washington to No. 1 after the Huskies earned a second win against the Ducks. But the Wolverines have been ahead of UW throughout the ranking process and should be able to seal the deal after topping the Hawkeyes.

2. Washington (13-0)

Getting to No. 1 could match UW with Florida State, which the Huskies would probably appreciate, or with one of Alabama or Texas. When it comes to ranking ahead of Michigan, it’s really down to how the committee views Friday night’s win against Oregon and whether they dig into the Huskies’ far more impressive strength of schedule.

3. Texas (12-1)

The Alabama win was big for the Longhorns, who topped the Crimson Tide in September and carried that as the ultimate trump card throughout the ranking process. Should the committee put both teams in the semifinals, there’s simply no way to rank Alabama ahead given that victory and the way Texas closed the regular season against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

4. Alabama (12-1)

And here’s the big decision: Alabama over Florida State. In another year, FSU would’ve sailed into the semifinals and maybe even been the top seed. This hasn’t been that season or that playoff race. While Alabama has been perhaps the best team in the country since October and just pulled down the best single win of any team this season, the Seminoles have struggled without quarterback Jordan Travis and failed to impress with a 16-6 win against Louisville. Essentially, the injury to Travis and the way FSU has played since gives the committee the ammunition they need to make the toughest decision in playoff history.

5. Florida State (13-0)

This would be heartbreaking and, at another time, would’ve been the final straw for expanding the playoff beyond four teams. The Seminoles did what they had to do: win. They won against LSU and Clemson. They beat Louisville. They won with Travis and without. With backup Tate Rodemaker and without. They just got it done all season, and as a reward could play in the Orange Bowl instead of the semifinals.

Florida State defensive lineman Braden Fiske points to his ring finger after sacking Louisville quarterback Jack Plummer in the ACC championship game.
Florida State defensive lineman Braden Fiske points to his ring finger after sacking Louisville quarterback Jack Plummer in the ACC championship game.

6. Georgia (12-1)

Again, the Bulldogs probably would’ve made the field in another year, especially with Alabama destined for the top four. After dominating the past two seasons, Georgia struggled at times replacing a bunch of key contributors but still came within a win of the playoff. The dynasty isn’t going anywhere.

7. Ohio State (11-1)

The Buckeyes drop one spot due to Alabama’s leap up the rankings. After losing 30-24 to Michigan to end the regular season, Ohio State will enter another offseason looking for answers for how to stop the Wolverines.

8. Oregon (11-2)

Think about how little separated Oregon from the playoff: three points in October, three points in December. While there’s zero argument for having Oregon above any of the one-loss teams atop the rankings, the Ducks looked the part of a national champion all season outside of the two losses against the Huskies and seem more than ready to make next year’s shift to the Big Ten.

9. Missouri (10-2)

The Tigers will stay ahead of Mississippi as the third-ranked team from the SEC and draw an invite to a New Year’s Six bowl. This has been a wonderful year for Missouri and coach Eli Drinkwitz, who came into the year under some increasing scrutiny but delivered by far the program’s best season since former coach Gary Pinkel’s retirement.

10. Penn State (10-2)

Penn State’s two losses came to teams set to be in the top seven of the rankings, which goes to show you two things: one, the Big Ten is filthy at the top, and two, the Nittany Lions are probably much, much closer to a national championship than the conference standings suggest. Getting another New Year’s Six bid and win could help spark a breakthrough 2024 season.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College Football Playoff predictions: Will Florida State be left out?