Washington moved up to No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday, bolstering its chances of playing for a national championship.
The Huskies (11-1) were the beneficiaries of Michigan's double-overtime loss to No. 2 Ohio State (11-1), which dropped the Wolverines (10-2) into the fifth slot and on the outside looking in.
However, Washington still has to get by No. 8 Colorado (10-2) in Friday's Pac-12 Championship and even then is not assured of a slot in the CFP semifinals -- a point reinforced by the chairman of the selection committee.
"The separation between No. 4 Washington and No. 5 Michigan is extremely small," Kirby Hocutt acknowledged Tuesday during the release of the latest rankings.
Unbeaten Alabama (12-0) has a firm grip on the No. 1 slot heading into the Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 15 Florida (8-3) on Saturday.
Second-ranked Ohio State also appears to have cemented a berth even though the Buckeyes will not be playing in the Big Ten title game, which will pit No. 6 Wisconsin (10-2) against No. 7 Penn State (10-2).
Although Penn State owns a victory over Ohio State, even a convincing win by the Nittany Lions over Wisconsin would not hinder the Buckeyes' national title aspirations.
"They're not close in the eyes of the selection committee," Hocuff said of Ohio State and Penn State.
Clemson (11-1) moved up a spot to No. 3 but faces a date with No. 23 Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game Saturday night. A loss by the Tigers could open the door for Michigan to rejoin the final four.
Wisconsin has won six in a row following consecutive tight losses against Michigan (14-7) and Ohio State (30-23) and will be rooting for defeats by Clemson and Washington to keep its longshot hopes alive.
Oklahoma (9-2) and Oklahoma State (9-2), who will clash for the Big 12 championship, sit at Nos. 9 and 10, respectively.
The final CFP rankings will be unveiled Sunday at noon ET (ESPN).