CFP Top 25: Washington is No. 5, Colorado is No. 9, USC is No. 12
Washington jumped up to No. 5 and Colorado slid up to No. 9 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. The top-10 Dawgs and Buffs are joined in the top 25 by No. 12 USC, No. 22 Utah, No. 23 Washington State and No. 24 Stanford.
It wasn’t the prettiest of starts, but a 44-18 win over a conference opponent that has bowl-game potential is still work well done. That’s what the Dawgs accomplished against Arizona State after a couple of early Jake Browning miscues, setting Washington up with a winner-take-all Apple Cup against Washington State. Just as big for the Huskies’ cause was the fact that Louisville lost to Houston on Thursday night, thus clearing one hurdle for Washington to jump up one spot to No. 5. The best hope for the Dawgs is for Michigan to beat Ohio State and win the Big Ten championship game, so as to avoid any Ohio State/Penn State/Wisconsin/should-two-of-those-teams-make-the-College-Football-Playoff talk. Of course, the Dawgs have to win two more games – Washington State and either Colorado or USC (either would be a good win—either a top-10 win against CU or a revenge-win against the only team that beat them). Washington doesn’t exactly control its own destiny, but it figures to be in good shape if it goes 12-1.
The Buffs are officially in single-digit territory, moving up one spot to No. 9 after an impressive 38-24 win over a ranked Washington State squad. This team is more than just a feel-good story; the Buffaloes still have a shot at going to the College Football Playoff. What will that take? For starters, a win over Utah to get to the Pac-12 Football Championship Game followed by a win over what the Buffs would hope to be the Huskies in Santa Clara. Like Washington, Colorado is probably rooting for Michigan to win the Big Ten, because that would make the Buffs’ loss to the Harbaughs look all that much better (the Buffs would probably eclipse non-Big Ten champion and multi-loss Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State squads). If you assume that Alabama and Michigan are locks, it would come down to Clemson, Oklahoma/Oklahoma State (whoever wins that game) and Colorado in this scenario for the final two spots, so the Buffs still probably need some help (let’s go Gamecocks this weekend).
A 36-14 win over UCLA doesn’t move the needle like originally thought when the season started, but USC was able to move up one spot to No. 12 after securing its seventh-straight victory. Arguably the hottest team in the country, many pundits think the Trojans are one of the five or six best teams in the country right now, but three losses is looking like one too many (USC couldn’t even surpass No. 11 Louisville, who is coming off a 26-point loss to a Group of Five school). The narrow shot it has at a CFP spot would be for Colorado to lose to Utah and then defeat No. 5 Washington in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game, and then it would probably also need Alabama to lose twice and Clemson to lose in the ACC Championship Game. In other words, it’s still looking like the best USC can do is represent the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl, but at least the Trojans would be in some sort of consideration for the Final Four if they get to 10-3 before Selection Sunday.
The Utes are down 10 spots to No. 22 following a heartbreaking loss to Oregon, therefore ending its Pac-12 title and College Football Playoff hopes. That said, Kyle Whittingham’s group can still have a say in who represents the Pac-12 South in Santa Clara, and if the Utes do beat the Buffs, they’ll probably find themselves back near the mid-teens.
The Cougs were a longshot for the College Football Playoff as it was with a loss to an FCS school to open the season, but their slim semifinal hopes came to an end in Boulder. However, No. 23 Washington State (slipping one spot in the CFP rankings) still sits in a good spot to make the Rose Bowl. Win the Apple Cup and defeat whoever represents the South in Santa Clara, and the Cougs will be smelling roses for the first time in more than a decade.
I’ll take 8-3 being considered a “down year” anytime. That’s where No. 24 Stanford (no change) finds itself after defeating Cal for the seventh year in a row, giving the Cardinal its fourth-straight win of the season. Stanford still has a chance at 10 wins and will wrap up the regular season against a 3-8 Rice squad. Not a bad year all things considered (having to replace one of the best quarterbacks in school history, overcoming serious issues on the offensive line, having an injured McCaffrey for part of the season, playing some of its most important games without its starting cornerbacks, etc.).
Here's a look at the top 25 in full:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
- Florida State
- West Virginia
- Boise State
- Western Michigan
- Washington State