--- In the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings, Oregon remained at No. 2 and Arizona, after defeating Arizona State last week, moved up four spots to No. 7. Those teams play each other in Santa Clara on Friday for the Pac-12 championship. And Arizona's ranking could be significant for the Huskies.
If Oregon and Arizona each finish the season ranked in the top 11, both teams will earn bids to a Big Six bowl game. And if that happens, every other bowl-eligible Pac-12 team will slide up one spot in the pecking order. The Huskies are currently eighth in that order, with only seven spots guaranteed to Pac-12 teams. So if Arizona and Oregon stay in the top 11 after playing each other on Friday, the Huskies are all but guaranteed a spot in the Cactus Bowl (7:15 p.m. on Jan. 2 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.), which has the seventh and final selection among bowls with Pac-12 affiliation.
Oregon and Arizona need to finish in the top 11, and not just the top 12, because the highest-ranked champion from the "Group of Five" -- the American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences -- is guaranteed a spot in a Big Six bowl. That team will more than likely be Boise State, assuming the Broncos beat Fresno State in the Mountain West championship game.
So, if Arizona beats Oregon, the Wildcats are obviously guaranteed to move up in the rankings, and possibly into the coveted top four, while the Ducks would fall -- but certainly not out of the top 11. So the question for UW is if Oregon wins, will Arizona slide more than four spots and out of the top 11 in the final rankings? My guess is that won't happen, unless the Ducks win 70-0 or something crazy like that. It's hard to imagine the committee would punish the No. 7 team that much for losing a conference championship game to a team that has occupied the No. 2 spot for three weeks. Then again, the previous week's rankings aren't supposed to have any impact on the next week's rankings, so nothing is guaranteed.
We'll know for sure sometime Sunday afternoon, when the final rankings are released. But the odds of UW heading to the Cactus Bowl seem to have improved with Arizona's ascent to that No. 7 spot.
--- Huskies receiver Kasen Williams accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game, which will be held Jan. 17 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
--- According to a few reports, Marysville-Pilchuck defensive back/running back Austin Joyner, who long ago committed to Washington State, has decommitted from WSU and is now looking at other options. He's scheduled to visit UW on Friday. Joyner committed to UW in November 2013, but decommitted following coach Steve Sarkisian's departure.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple