University of Washington

The Huskies are ninth in the latest CFP rankings. What’s the next step?

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide remain at No. 2 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide remain at No. 2 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings. AP

The Washington Huskies moved up three places and are now No. 9 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday.

UW (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) has constructed a resume which has fielded the nation’s No. 1 defense, a big-play offense and several lop-sided scorelines. The most recent example was UW’s 38-3 win over rival Oregon last Saturday at Husky Stadium.

If there’s anything hurting UW its a signature win over a ranked opponent. Stanford (6-3, 5-2) was supposed to be that until losing to Washington State (8-2) and falling out of The Associated Press Top 25 rankings.

Stanford dropping out of the rankings hurts. It makes grabbing a win over WSU, ranked 19th in the CFP, in the Apple Cup even more important. Should the Huskies win the remainder of their regular season games, they’d advance to the Pac-12 Championship Game where they would more than likely face No. 11 Southern California (8-2).

That’s what must happen on UW’s end.

Here’s what they would need from everyone else:

▪ No. 3 Notre Dame (8-1) is at No. 7 Miami (8-0) on Saturday. Say the Irish win this game, which might keep the one-loss Hurricanes above the Huskies in next week’s rankings. Or if the Hurricanes win, it knocks the Irish out of the CFP and it’s one less team in the Huskies’ way.

▪ Another game worth keeping tabs on this weekend is No. 5 Oklahoma (8-1) hosting No. 6 TCU (8-1). This is essentially a winner-take-all game considering no two-loss team has ever reached the CFP semifinal.

UW, hypothetically speaking, could move up two spots should the two teams in front of them lose.

There are other factors to keep in mind.

Remember, No. 1 Georgia (9-0) and No. 2 Alabama (9-0) still have to face No. 10 Auburn (7-2) later this year.

Keep this in mind, too. No. 4 Clemson (8-1) and Miami could meet in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

What’s difficult to determine is how the committee will evaluate an undefeated Wisconsin. If the Badgers (9-0) run the table, it’s tough to argue against a team with a perfect record playing in a Power 5 conference.

There’s a lot of moving parts but the plan for UW is a simple one: Keep winning and understand the teams in front of them will lose.

Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark