Alabama, Clemson head first college playoff standings

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The Huskers earned the No. 10 spot in the first College Football Playoff poll of the 2016 season, the team's highest ranking since the playoff system debuted in 2014. The Huskies would drop and have no chance to rise again without an appearance in their conference championship game.

- No. 8 Wisconsin moved up three spots after 23-17 victory in overtime against previously unbeaten Nebraska. That slate should be very manageable for a team that might not have peaked just yet as Clemson appears primed to return to the College Football Playoff after a big win in Week 9. They also defeated No. 14 Oklahoma. ESPN will televise the release of the first of the six rankings, leading to the announcement of the four playoff teams at noon December 4.

Alabama is No. 1 overall, followed by Clemson, the Wolverines, Texas A&M and Washington. For as satisfying as the win was for Jim Harbaugh and his players, the focus will remain on the future with four regular season games to go. Many believe that the Big-12 is now already out of playoff contention.

In their first poll, the College Football Playoff pollsters have tabbed Washington State at No. 25 in the nation, just behind Boise State, which Wazzu narrowly lost to in September. The site has Alabama vs. Ohio State and Clemson vs. Washington as the two games. Ohio State began its title run at No. 16. The bowl projections from ESPN have Alabama vs. Washington and Clemson vs. MI. The only other undefeated team, Western MIchigan, checks in at #15 in the coaches' poll and #17 in the AP poll.

While Michigan has been completely dominant in six of its eight games, Clemson has had five games decided by one possession.

There are still five weeks remaining, which includes conference championship games, and any of those contests could quickly change the complexion of the playoff race as they have in past years. Alabama has to deal with two rivals still, with a game against LSU on November 5 and then a season-ender against the Auburn Tigers. They still have games against California (4-4, 2-3 Pac-12), Southern California (5-3, 4-2), Arizona State (5-4, 2-4) and Washington State (6-2, 5-0). Washington's Dante Pettis (son of Gary) had a game-defining punt return TD in a win at Utah. These rankings are the only ones that truly matter from here on out.