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And Then There Were Nine

And then there were nine.

After several de facto elimination games—not the least of which was played in Baton Rouge—the field of potential playoff teams has been narrowed once again.

Michigan absolutely demolished Penn State and, in the process, has leaped into the top four. If the Fightin' Harbaughs can run the table, they will be headed to the playoff. No question.

Elsewhere, Clemson looked like the chief challenger to Alabama. Meanwhile, Alabama looked like, well, Alabama.

The Top Four

1. Alabama (9-0)

Why? Any doubters who remained were silenced on Saturday night, as Alabama's defense crushed LSU while Tua did his thing.

2. Clemson (9-0)

Why? Dabo can sell the whole 'Alabama vs. Everyone Else' scenario all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that Clemson is right there. The Tigers were unbelievable on Saturday, with 10 different players scoring a touchdown against Louisville.

3. Notre Dame (9-0)

Why? Notre Dame's road win against Northwestern was not spectacular but it was solid. If the Irish keep winning—ugly or not—they have nothing to worry about.

4. Michigan (8-1)

Why? In short, Michigan looked awesome on Saturday. The Wolverines have to be considered the favorite for the fourth and final playoff spot at this point, with one more marquee win waiting in the form of Ohio State.

The Contenders

5. Oklahoma (8-1)

What's It Going To Take? Someone needs to slip and drop a game. Preferably Notre Dame. And, while we're at it, Alabama needs to eliminate Georgia, as well.

6. Georgia (8-1)

What's It Going To Take? Georgia still completely controls its own destiny. Win out and beat Alabama in the SEC Championship (easy enough, right?) and the Dawgs are going back to the College Football Playoff regardless of what happens with everyone else.

7. West Virginia (7-1)

How Convoluted Is The Path? See: Oklahoma.

The Outsiders

8. Washington State (8-1)

What'll It Take? A bunch of dominos need to fall, but it's far from impossible. The Cougars need to win out and pray for chaos.

9. Ohio State (8-1)

What'll It Take? If the Buckeyes win out, they're very likely into the dance.

The Best Of The Rest

10. LSU (7-2)

11. Kentucky (7-2)

12. Central Florida (8-0)

13. Syracuse (7-2)

14. Texas (6-3)

15. Utah State (8-1)

16. Fresno State (8-1)

17. Mississippi State (6-3)

18. Florida (6-3)

19. Boston College (7-2)

20. Iowa State (5-3)

21. Washington (7-3)

22. Penn State (6-3)

23. Cincinnati (8-1)

24. Michigan State (6-3)

25. North Carolina State (6-2)