The undefeated Washington Huskies moved up to No. 4 in the updated College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday. And they have an opportunity this weekend to further impress the CFP committee.
UW’s ascension marks a pleasant end to a week of relative consternation for Huskies fans. When the CFP unveiled its first rankings of the season, Texas A&M occupied the No. 4 spot despite having one loss. Washington (9-0) was No. 5. After the Aggies lost at Mississippi State on Saturday and the Huskies ripped California 66-27, it seemed logical that UW would move up to No. 4.
There was some speculation, though, that Ohio State, which debuted at No. 6, would move ahead of the Huskies as a result of the Buckeyes’ 62-3 pasting of then-No. 10 Nebraska (the Cornhuskers dropped to No. 19 this week). Ohio State’s one loss this season came on Oct. 22 at Penn State, which debuted at No. 12 in the CFP rankings and moved to No. 10 this week. But the CFP committee instead chose to elevate Washington and placed Ohio State at No. 5.
Each of the top three teams — No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Michigan — is also unbeaten.
CFP committee chairman Kirby Hocutt, the Texas Tech athletic director, said last week that Texas A&M was ranked ahead of Washington because the Aggies have played a stronger schedule. Some thought the same thinking might be applied this week in regard to Ohio State, which also has victories over No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 11 Oklahoma.
But Hocutt said Texas A&M was only ranked ahead of UW — and by a thin margin — because of the quality of the Aggies’ one loss. The committee did not view Ohio State’s loss in the same light.
“What’s different this week (is you) have to look at the one-loss team that Washington was being compared against last week,” Hocutt said during the ESPN telecast of the rankings announcement. “That one-loss team had a loss at the time to No. 1-ranked Alabama. When you look at one-loss team Ohio State, their loss is to Penn State.”
There is more good news for the Huskies: this week’s opponent, USC, went from unranked last week to No. 20 this week. A victory over the Trojans would give the Huskies two wins over ranked teams.
Washington’s best victory thus far was a 31-24 win at No. 15 Utah. The Huskies finish the season with games against No. 20 USC (6-3), Arizona State (5-4) and No. 23 Washington State (7-2), plus a potential appearance in the Pac-12 championship game.
At No. 12, Colorado is the second-highest ranked Pac-12 team this week, ahead of Utah, USC and WSU.
It is worth repeating that the CFP committee heavily weighs conference championships, and since none of those have been established yet, it is difficult to project how a potential Pac-12 title might enhance the Huskies’ profile in comparison to teams that do not win their league championship.
The top four teams in the final CFP rankings released Dec. 4 will compete in the national semifinals, with the No. 1 seed facing No. 4, and No. 2 facing No. 3. The two semifinal games will be played Dec. 31 in Atlanta (Peach Bowl) and Glendale, Arizona (Fiesta Bowl), respectively, with the winners meeting in the national championship game Jan. 9 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
New rankings will be released each Tuesday until the final edition on Dec. 4.
Washington will receive $4.1 million from Peach Bowl, Inc. (PBI) for participating in the 2018 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic against Auburn at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, according to a copy of the term sheet obtained by The News Tribune.
The game, scheduled for Sept. 1, 2018, will be UW’s season opener. The Huskies are required to purchase (and then sell) an allotment of 7,917 tickets at a cost of $1,792,825. PBI will pay for Washington’s team hotel, as well as 125 complimentary tickets to visit the College Football Hall of Fame the day before the game.
Tickets for the game will go on sale no later than March 1, 2018.
FRIDAY OPENER IN 2017
According to the official website of the Big Ten conference, Washington’s 2017 season opener at Rutgers is now scheduled for Friday, Sept. 1 at High Point Solutions Stadium in New Jersey. The game will air on either ESPN or Fox (Ch. 13). A kickoff time has not been announced.
The game had previously been scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2. The Big Ten announced recently that it will schedule six Friday night games per season in an effort to increase the league’s national exposure.