Three of the top four teams in last week’s College Football Playoff ranking lost on Saturday. So Tuesday’s shakeup, specifically as it pertained to the Washington Huskies, was not unexpected.
The Huskies fell from No. 4 to No. 6 in the most recent iteration of the CFP rankings released Tuesday night, the result of Saturday’s 26-13 loss to USC at Husky Stadium. The Trojans, previously ranked No. 20, jumped to No. 13. Colorado moved up to No. 10 from No. 12, Utah moved from No. 15 to No. 12, Washington State moved up one spot to No. 22, and previously unranked Stanford debuted at No. 24.
Alabama, now the nation’s lone unbeaten, power-conference team, remains at No. 1. Ohio State jumped to the No. 2 spot from No. 5, Michigan remained at No. 3 despite losing to Iowa, and Clemson fell only one spot to No. 4 after losing to Pittsburgh.
Louisville jumped only one spot, from No. 6 to No. 5. Wisconsin remained at No. 7, with Penn State at No. 8 and Oklahoma at No. 9.
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So, what does this mean for the Huskies? It means they’re not out of it. If UW beats WSU in the Apple Cup, then wins the Pac-12 championship game, the Huskies will have four victories over top-25 teams -- plus a conference championship -- to bolster their resume. And it cannot be emphasized enough how much the CFP committee weighs league titles when comparing teams with similar resumes.
Also, of the five teams currently ranked ahead of UW, a maximum of three can win league titles. Clemson and Louisville are both in the ACC. Michigan and Ohio State are both in the Big Ten. So of those four teams, only two will finish with the all-important designation of league champion. That is tremendously important, and, again, it is a set of data that does not yet exist, and therefore will not be reflected in any CFP ranking until the final one on Dec. 4. Which is why that final ranking is the only one that matters.
There’s no guarantee, of course, that the committee would take a one-loss UW team with a relatively weak schedule over, say, a one-loss Louisville team. But the Huskies still control their Pac-12 championship aspirations, and losses last week by Michigan and Clemson have made the CFP picture far less clear than it seemed a week ago.