No. 11 Washington (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) is still in contention for the College Football Playoff. The problem? So are a whole host of other teams as the season enters the final full month of the regular season.
The CFP rankings will be released Tuesday and from there, the Huskies should get a stronger idea of the road they face to reach a consecutive CFP semifinal.
For now, let’s take a glance at the current landscape.
Alabama, Central Florida, Georgia, Miami and Wisconsin are the only teams that enter the week without a single loss.
No. 1 Alabama (8-0) hasn’t really faced a challenge throughout the entire season. Three of Alabama’s next four games come against ranked opponents. The Crimson Tide face No. 19 LSU on Nov. 4 and play at No. 21 Mississippi State on Nov. 11. Two weeks later, they play at No. 16 Auburn on Nov. 25
No. 2 Georgia (8-0) has looked dominant and already has two wins over Top 25 teams. Auburn is the only ranked opponent the Bulldogs will face this season.
The good news for UW is Alabama and Georgia are expected to meet in the Southeastern Conference title game. The bad news for UW is a one-loss Alabama or a one-loss Georgia would be a tough act to overcome given the Bulldogs are first in strength of record and the Tide are fourth.
No. 4 Wisconsin’s (8-0) toughest remaining game will likely be against Michigan on Nov. 18. From there, it’s possible the Badgers could reach the Big Ten Championship game with a perfect record.
No. 9 Miami (7-0) doesn’t have an easy road going forward. The Hurricanes play No. 13 Virginia Tech on Saturday and a week later get No. 5 Notre Dame. Should Miami win those games, it sets up a likely showdown with Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game.
No. 15 UCF (7-0) is a curious case. The Knights are not a Power 5 program but could still have a chance of going undefeated. A loss surely ends the discussion of UCF reaching the playoff. An undefeated regular season, however, should make for an interesting December.
UW is not alone in this department and frankly, there’s some steep competition.
The list of one-loss teams ahead of UW in The Associated Press Poll are: No. 3 Ohio State (7-1), No. 5 Notre Dame (7-1), No. 6 Clemson (7-1), No. 7 Penn State (7-1), No. 8 Oklahoma (7-1), No. 10 TCU (7-1) and No. 11 Oklahoma State (7-1).
Ohio State has one ranked opponent left in No. 24 Michigan State on Nov. 11. Assuming the Buckeyes win out, they’ll play Wisconsin for the Big Ten Championship. Either outcome hurts the Huskies given the Big Ten can send a one-loss Ohio State with wins over two Top 5 teams or it ships an undefeated Wisconsin to the CFP.
Notre Dame might have the best loss in the nation with its 20-19 defeat to Georgia earlier in the year. The Irish have two wins over Top 25 teams and they face No. 9 Miami and No. 18 Stanford to end the year. Should the Irish go undefeated, they’re going to likely end up in the CFP. If they lose one more game, it helps any one-loss team still gunning for a spot.
Clemson has a fascinating setup in its effort to win consecutive national titles. The Tigers have one game left against a ranked opponent and that’s No. 20 N.C. State on Nov. 4. If Clemson reaches the ACC title game with one loss, it’ll likely face Miami or Virginia Tech. A win would surely give Clemson a strong enough resume to claim a CFP spot. In this case, UW needs Clemson to drop one more game.
Ah. The Big XII. Oklahoma plays OK State and TCU in consecutive weeks. If Oklahoma runs the table, chances are the Sooners are in. Yet if Oklahoma loses and OK State and TCU end up with identical records, the Horned Frogs get the tie-breaker given that they beat the Cowboys earlier in the year.
UW needs a few things to happen. The Huskies need to win out, win the Pac-12 title game and do it in style to impress the committee.
Whether it’s Alabama or Georgia, it’s likely one of those teams will get into the CFP. That’s one spot.
The Big Ten, barring calamity, will send either an undefeated Wisconsin or a one-loss Ohio State to the playoff. That’s two spots.
UW needs Clemson, Miami and Notre Dame to start losing games. Plus, they’d need to receive help from the Big XII schools too.
If UW does not get help, it’s possible the CFP would feature some combination of at least one SEC team, the Big Ten winner, the potential ACC champion, a one-loss Notre Dame and a one-loss Big XII team. Sports Illustrated currently projects Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma to reach the CFP. UW is on track to face Wisconsin in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl.
There’s still four weeks left in the regular season plus the round of conference title games. It’s a lot to overcome but stranger things have happened.