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College Football Playoff rankings 2016: Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Texas A&M top four

The College Football Playoff rankings didn’t come without some surprise.

Alabama expectedly topped the first set of rankings released Tuesday and was followed by No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Michigan. But a one-loss Texas A&M came in at No. 4, beating out Washington, the nation’s only other Power Five unbeaten, for the final spot in the initial chase for a berth in the national semifinals come December.

Washington came in at No. 5. Ohio State, Louisville, Wisconsin, Auburn and Nebraska rounded out the top 10, respectively.

New rankings will be released each week until the end of the regular season with the final poll coming out Dec. 4. The semifinals — No. 1 against No. 4 and No. 2 against No. 3 — will be played at the Peach and Fiesta bowls on Dec. 31 with the winners squaring off in the national championship game Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Alabama (8-0) started the season No. 1 in the Associated Press top 25 and has stayed there all season while Michigan (8-0) and Clemson (8-0) have been in the AP’s top 5 since the regular-season poll began in September. Washington (8-0) has held the No. 4 ranking in the AP poll the last two weeks while Texas A&M (7-1) is No. 7 this week.

But the strength of A&M’s slate worked in its favor. Both Washington (at Utah) and Texas A&M (at Auburn) have one win against AP top-25 teams, but the Aggies have played one more team that’s currently ranked — a 33-14 setback at Alabama on Oct. 22 that stands as the lone blemish on their schedule.

“Simply stated, the committee, in our mind, believes that Texas A&M has played a stronger schedule at this point in time of the season over Washington,” College Football Playoff selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said in an interview with ESPN shortly after the rankings were released. “Texas A&M’s got four wins against teams that are better records than .5o0 compared to Washington only having two wins against teams that have .500-or-better records.”