The second iteration of the College Football Playoff rankings will be released tonight (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), hopefully with fewer surprises this time.

The committee threw us a curveball with its initial release a week ago. Despite being an unbeaten team from a Power 5 conference, Washington could do no better than No. 5. One-loss Texas A&M sat at No. 4 instead.

But with the Aggies getting upset by Mississippi State on the road this past Saturday, they’ve fallen to 7-2 and most likely out of the playoff discussion altogether. As for the Huskies, they opened up a can of you-know-what on Cal away from home. The CFP picture appears to be that much more clear as a result.

As far as the SEC goes, A&M wasn’t the only contender to remove itself from the race. Florida had no answers offensively in a three-touchdown loss at Arkansas. Now 6-2, the Gators are nothing more than the best of a bad bunch in the East.

Here’s how the second CFP rankings should look like. While the order might be different, I would be shocked if it’s not these four programs.

1. alabama

The top game of the year if measured by nothing else but defensive effort, the Crimson Tide were scoreless with LSU through three quarters.

However, ‘Bama found a way to dent the scoreboard in the fourth and final frame, getting a 21-yard touchdown run from quarterback Jalen Hurts and a 25-yard field goal from Adam Griffith to defeat the Tigers 10-0.

Hurts, the fabulous freshman, was held in check for most of what was another raucous evening at Death Valley. He never really got going with the pass, but on the ground he eventually found some holes — including a pair of crucial third-down conversions that led to the field goal — in the last 15 minutes.

The Tide have a bulletproof résumé at this point. Three-fourths of the way through the schedule, the eye test suggests that they’re simply on a different level when compared to every other team in the country.

With Mississippi State and Chattanooga the next two weeks, coach Nick Saban and Co. should be 11-0 before hosting rival Auburn.

2. michigan

Alabama is widely regarded as the best defense in the nation, although the raw statistics tell us something different.

It’s the Wolverines who are No. 1 in both total D and scoring D, surrendering just 246.3 yards and 10.7 points per game. The Crimson Tide give up 257.9 yards and 13.2 points per game to rank second in both categories.

Oct 22, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh on the sideline in the second half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan Stadium. Michigan won 41-8. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Big Blue totally destroyed a Maryland squad in Week 10 that should make it to a bowl game. While the Terrapins moved the ball to the tune of 367 total yards, they allowed 660 in a 59-3 laugher. With 2 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions, UM quarterback Wilton Speight improved his ratio in 2016 to 15-to-3.

The average score of a game for coach Jim Harbaugh this year is 48-11. What he’s been able to do in two seasons in Ann Arbor, completely turning around a proud team that was going nowhere, is nothing short of remarkable.

Ohio State looms in Week 13. Barring an upset in the Big Ten title game a week later, the OSU-UM winner should be in the playoff.

3. clemson

The Tigers have played down to the level of inferior competition several times this season, giving the impression that they’re bored.

They only topped lowly Troy 30-24. N.C. State all but had them beat if not for a missed field goal at the end of regulation. Naturally, the Wolfpack ultimately fell 24-17 in OT. Both games were at Memorial Stadium, by the way.

Fortunately for coach Dabo Swinney, Clemson didn’t mess around with Syracuse in Week 10 and slept quite comfortably with a 54-0 blowout in its collective back pocket. Heisman Trophy candidate Deshaun Watson threw for 2 TDs and ran for another, while Deon Cain and Mike Williams both eclipsed 100 yards receiving.

On the other side of the football, the Orange were limited to 277 total yards. They averaged an anemic 3.8 yards per rush and a feeble 4.3 yards per pass. The Tigers picked off three throws and didn’t turn it over themselves.

With only Pittsburgh, Wake Forest and South Carolina left on the schedule, Swinney’a club should cruise into the ACC title game.

4. washington

Perhaps feeling slighted by the committee the first time around, and rightfully so, the Huskies put on a show in Berkeley.

When it was all said and done, Washington had torn Cal limb from limb with a 66-27 beatdown. Jake Browning, a Heisman hopeful himself, threw 6 touchdown passes against 0 interceptions in a near-flawless performance.

Davis Webb is also an incredibly productive QB for the Golden Bears. Nevertheless, the Huskies held him to 262 yards passing — he averages 352.9 per contest — and had 3 INTs. The game was 21-20 in favor of the visitors before U-Dub went on a 38-0 run from the middle of the second quarter to the start of the fourth.

Oct 8, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Huskies coach Chris Peterson reacts during the game against the Southern California Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to argue against the fact that the Pac-12 is down in 2016. Every other team in the league has at least two losses, with 6-3 Stanford and 3-6 Oregon in particular turning out to be a pair of huge disappointments.

The Huskies deserve to be in the CFP, though. They have no margin for error, but a perfect Pac-12 champ needs a seat at the table.


5. Louisville

Heisman frontrunner Lamar Jackson accounted for 7 TDs against what more often than not is a solid Boston College defense.

6. Ohio State

Proving that then-No. 10 Nebraska was indeed a fraud, the Buckeyes got everybody’s attention with a 62-3 whitewashing at The Horseshoe.

7. Auburn

Even after a sleepy effort against pesky Vanderbilt, the Tigers are in position to make a late run since they finish at Alabama.

8. Wisconsin

The Badgers’ only two defeats are by a combined 14 points to Big Ten heavyweights Michigan and Ohio State. Don’t count them out yet.

John Crist is the senior writer for Saturday Down South, a member of the FWAA and a voter for the Heisman Trophy. Send him an e-mail, like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.