The undefeated Washington Huskies moved up to No. 4 in the updated College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday.
When the CFP unveiled its first rankings of the season, Texas A&M occupied the No. 4 spot despite having one loss. Washington was No. 5. After the Aggies lost at Mississippi State last week, 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.
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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.
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 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.