Washington moved into fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings, putting the four remaining unbeaten teams from the Power Five conferences at the top of the selection committee's second top 25.

Alabama, Clemson and Michigan still hold the top three spots.

The committee's first ranking of the season caused a bit of a stir because the unbeaten Huskies were behind Texas A&M last week. The Aggies then went out and lost at Mississippi State to clear up the mini-controversy.

Ohio State is behind Washington at fifth.

"It was a small margin between No. 4 and No. 5," committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said.

Hocutt, who is the athletic director at Texas Tech, said last week that A&M was ahead of Washington because of the Aggies' superior schedule strength. That left open the possibility that Ohio State would jump the Huskies for the same reason after the Buckeyes pounded Nebraska on Saturday.

Hocutt said a big difference was A&M's only loss was to Alabama whereas Ohio State's one loss was to 10th-ranked Penn State.

"But more than anything it's the consistency that we've seen week in and week out with Washington," Hocutt said.

The Buckeyes are still in fine shape. Ohio State plays Michigan on Nov. 26 in a game that could decide the Big Ten's East division.

Louisville moved up a spot to sixth, followed by Wisconsin at seven and Texas A&M at eight and Auburn at nine.


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Chaos theory

If chaos is what you crave down the stretch of the college football season, these last few weeks are set to leave you feeling less than satisfied.

For sure, none of the teams in the latest top four are safe. Weird stuff happens. What mitigates the chances for real chaos is the firewall the top three teams, and to some extent Washington, has created. Alabama (vs. Mississippi State), Clemson (vs. Pitt) and Michigan (at Iowa) could all lose this weekend and still they would be fine to reach the final four if they win out and become conference champions. Washington would likely be in more trouble than the rest with a loss to Southern California on Saturday, but far from out.

The potential for chaos is also limited by the teams lurking behind No. 6 Louisville (8-1). All nine teams ranked from seven to 15 have already lost twice. There was only one 7-2 in the committee's top 15 at this point last season.

For years, the folks who supported and fought for preserving the BCS beat to death one particular point: A playoff would devalue the regular season. Well, they were right, but that's not such a bad thing. The pressure that comes with a system that is so unforgiving takes some of the drama out of late-season games, but the trade-off makes up for it. More teams are in the mix and more games matter. Losses are not quite so catastrophic, but they do create new possibilities and heighten tension.

And, of course, in the end the playoff produces a truer champion.

The field

Four of these nine teams will almost certainly make the College Football Playoff: Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Washington, Ohio State, Louisville, Wisconsin, Auburn and No. 16 West Virginia.