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College Football Playoff Top 4: The media’s best guesses as to who is in the CFP

There are seven teams with a case, and only four semifinal slots. What happens now?

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Jam Miller runs against Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Kamari Lassiter in the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan and Washington are in the College Football Playoff. But that’s all we can guarantee right now with the 2023 College Football Playoff.

There are three teams for two spots between Alabama, Florida State, and Texas. All three are conference champions, with FSU being the only undefeated one ... and also the most flawed at this moment thanks to the injury to starting quarterback Jordan Travis.

Texas’s win over in Tuscaloosa over Alabama is a factor, but so is Alabama’s win of the much tougher league by strength of schedule in the SEC. How does this get decided?

Here’s what college football writers across America have to say:

And here’s our college football writers here at DK Network making their case as to who should be the Top 4.

Who’s in?

Collin Sherwin:

1. Michigan
2. Washington
3. Alabama
4. Florida State

Conference championships matter. In a year with so many undefeated and one-loss teams, there’s never been a closer field for the semifinals. And of course this is the last year we’ll only have four teams, so at least it’s a problem that’s ending.

At this point, for me you’ve got to win your league to get in the tournament. With apologies to Georgia, you didn’t get it done in what will serve as an eliminator game. Same with Ohio State. Next year you’re both hosting a first round game on campus. But this is 2023 instead of 2024.

Head-to-head should absolutely matter, but the Texas team that beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa almost got usurped by the, ahem, South Florida Bulls a week later. That Bama team is not this Bama team. And if you want this to be a no-doubter in a very close year Texas, don’t lose to a meh Oklahoma team in Red River.

I’m not leaving out an SEC champion because it’s either the best league or the second-best (maybe the Pac-12), and Alabama is now a favorite on a neutral field over Texas. This is razor-thin, and there’s no good answers (until next season!)

FSU didn’t lose a game, and they are a shell of themselves without Jordan Travis. But an undefeated P5 team has never missed the Playoff, and I’m not starting that tradition now. If FSU wins, I’m giving them the last spot.

Grace McDermott:

  1. Michigan
  2. Washington
  3. Texas
  4. FSU/Alabama

If Michigan wins tonight, they will be a lock for the top seed after Georgia fell to Alabama. Washington proved themselves on Friday, and should enter at No. 2. With the Bama win over Georgia, the two-time reigning champions will find themselves on the outside looking in.

Big XII champion Texas has an early season win over SEC champ Alabama on their 2023 resume, which should lock them in, as well. If Florida State defeats Louisville, can the committee leave them out? It will come down to the Seminoles and the Crimson Tide.

If Alabama and Georgia both get left out, this would mark the first time that the SEC has been entirely excluded from the College Football Playoff. Is the committee willing to make that leap?

Chinmay Vaidya

1. Michigan
2. Washington
3. Texas
4. Florida State/Alabama

The only reason Texas was ranked ahead of Alabama heading into championship weekend was the Longhorns’ win over the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa earlier this season. Alabama beating Georgia actually solidifies Texas’ case, because both teams have identical resumes. Texas has marched through most of the Big 12 without a problem, while Alabama did have some trouble in the Iron Bowl but ultimately pulled through. It’s hard to leave the SEC champion out, but what if there were 3 undefeated conference champions?

Florida State can throw a wrench into this entire playoff by taking care of business against Louisville in the ACC title game. I’m going to assume Michigan does not falter against Iowa. Washington has already locked up a spot. If the two one-loss conference champions are Texas and Alabama, the Longhorns have the head-to-head win.

If the committee puts Alabama in over either Florida State or Texas, let’s just go back to the BCS system or crown a champion without playing any games. That’ll prevent a lot of injuries and save everyone a lot of time. If the game results matter, then Alabama’s win over Georgia might have taken the SEC out of the playoff entirely. You don’t automatically get to play for a national title just because you play in a particular conference.