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Defending national champion Alabama was ranked No. 1, and Clemson, LSU and Notre Dame rounded out the top four.

Notre Dame has three wins against teams with winning records and beat Stanford handily at home. That's because after the committee ranked six SEC teams in the top 20 and five in the top 11, the idea that UM can win out and be guaranteed a playoff spot simply might not be true. The Cotton and Orange Bowls will host the 2018 CFP semifinals, leaving the Rose Bowl available to a Pac-12 champion that misses the Playoff and giving the Fiesta Bowl a potential opening for another Pac-12 team. That's the same top four as in both major polls (although the Tigers and Irish are flipped). Strength of schedule, team records, head-to-head results, and eventually championships all factor into the committee's decisions.

The first College Football Playoff rankings were revealed tonight, and the selection committee placed U-M at No. 5. Each school has earned the right to be in the top four but some would argue that LSU should not be ranked third.

"You know, it's like John Wooden said, and I can't remember the exact quote, but basically: Don't let criticism or praise affect you negatively", Washington State coach Mike Leach said.

All three teams have potential pitfalls that look more risky than those Panthers. No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 8 WSU, No. 9, Kentucky and No. 10 Ohio State.

When picking between undefeated Alabama and Clemson for the top spot, Mullens said the Crimson Tide were just better.

The annual made-for-television College Football Playoff rankings kicked off Tuesday night. The top four nearly certainly will change by this time next week, after Alabama and LSU meet Saturday night in the Bayou, and there are three other games featuring teams in the top 20 that could cause further movement.

The top four teams qualify for a spot in the two semifinal games on December 29.

Clearly, there's no way Notre Dame gets in the final four without running the table. Another of those wins is over No. 5 MI. It was also the first game of the season.

A 1-3 start to the season, including a loss to Iowa - which is ranked 16th - and Oklahoma, ISU rebounded for three-straight wins including an upset of then-No. Four teams, and only one Power-5 conference in the playoff. A&M closes the season with a showdown against No. 3 LSU.

Former BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall's Virginia team is No. 25 in the CFP rankings.