CFP Top 25: Washington moves up to No. 4
Washington has moved up to No. 4 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, with fellow Pac-12 divisional champ Colorado inching up to No. 8. Other Pac-12 teams in the CFP rankings are No. 11 USC, No. 18 Stanford and No. 20 Utah. If the semifinals started today, the fourth-ranked Dawgs would square off against No. 1 Alabama, while No. 2 Ohio State would play No. 3 Clemson.
Whoa, dawgy. Washington quickly erased any doubt there was about who would win the Apple Cup, jumping on the Cougs for 28 first-quarter points and denying Luke Falk and Co. at the doorstep of the goal line on multiple occasions to defeat Washington State 45-17 and win the Pac-12 North. It seems simple – win the Pac-12 Football Championship Game and the Huskies are off to the College Football Playoff since you’d think that the No. 4 team who beats a top-10 team wouldn’t slip – but it might not work out that way.
The Big Ten has long been considered a top-two conference this year, so the winner of No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 7 Penn State in the Big Ten Championship game might get into the top four, while No. 2 Ohio State is likely to stay in semifinal position. If the Big Ten gets two teams in, it’ll come down to Washington and Clemson, assuming the Tigers win the ACC (Alabama, even if it loses to Florida in the SEC championship game, is a lock for the semifinals, or so you’d think). If that’s the case, the Dawgs might be on the outside looking in, as Clemson has been ranked higher pretty much all season long. But would a better conference championship win be enough to push the Dawgs past the Tigers? Maybe? This is for sure – nothing will be settled by the time the action comes to a conclusion Friday night in Santa Clara (root for Virginia Tech Saturday night, Washington supporter).
Raise your hand if you had Colorado winning the Pac-12 South at the beginning of the year. If your hand is raised, you’re either someone who goes to Colorado, plays or works for the football team or have a relative who is a part of the team, because nobody thought this would happen. After all, the Buffs were picked to finish DEAD LAST in the South and had the 11th-most voting points in the Pac-12 preseason poll, ahead of only Oregon State. After defeating Utah 27-22 on Saturday, the Buffs booked their ticket to Santa Clara and moved up one spot to No. 8 in the latest CFP rankings, moving past Oklahoma and likely eliminating the Big 12 from CFP consideration.
The road to the semis is tricky for Colorado, but it’s not a dead end. Assuming ‘Bama and Ohio State are in and that a two-loss Big Ten champ (either No. 6 Wisconsin or No. 7 Penn State) would be ranked higher than an 11-2 Colorado squad, it would come down to Clemson, Michigan and the Buffs. If Clemson wins the ACC title, the Tigers would obviously be in. If Clemson loses, the debate becomes this – do you keep Michigan ahead of Colorado as a result of the Wolverines beating the Buffs in September, or does Colorado get the nod as a Power Five conference champion? Also to note, the Buffs were leading that game at Michigan when quarterback Sefo Liufau left the game. Oh, the scenarios! The amazing thing about all of this is that Colorado is even in this discussion in the first place.
At No. 11, the Trojans have been deemed the best three-loss team in the country after they finished the regular season on an eight-game winning streak following a 45-27 win over a disappointing Notre Dame squad. Unfortunately for Clay Helton and Friends, there were those first four games of the season. So while the Trojans might be one of the four best teams in the country right now, they won’t have one of the four best resumes come Selection Sunday. However, as Kyle Bonagura points out in this article, the Trojans could still very well be in play for a New Year’s Six bowl game. If Washington beats Colorado and gets into the College Football Playoff, USC could very well jump the Buffs in the CFP rankings as a result of their head-to-head matchup, thus giving the Trojans the inside track to the Rose Bowl (there’s also a Cotton Bowl possibility out there).
Thanks to a win over 3-9 Rice and a slew of losses in front of it, Stanford jumped up six spots to No. 18. The Cardinal is still pretty far down the Pac-12 bowl pecking order, but it will have a chance for a second-straight 10-win season. Fans of the Cardinal, though they might, cannot argue with that success. The jump in the rankings also is a resume-booster to Colorado and Washington, as it gives the Buffs and Dawgs another top-20 win.
Despite losing 27-22 and falling to 8-4, Utah actually jumped up two spots to No. 20 as a result of chaos in the middle of the previous CFP rankings. And, as with Stanford’s jump up to No. 18, Utah’s ranking helps pad Colorado’s and Washington’s College Football Playoff application.
Here’s the CFP Top 25 in full:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
- Florida State
- West Virginia
- Western Michigan
- Virginia Tech