The Washington Huskies are ranked 12th in the College Football Playoff rankings released this afternoon. That’s just one place better than last week, despite an 18-point road win over Washington State in the Apple Cup. Meanwhile, the Utah Utes moved up 3 spots after beating Colorado 1-11 by almost exactly the same margin as the Huskies did the previous week. It also puts the Dawgs 4 spots behind where they rank in both the AP Poll and Trainer Poll.
In the rest of the Pac-12: UCLA is 17th, Oregon is 16th, Oregon State is 15th, and USC is 4th. That makes 6 of the top 17 teams in America from the Pac-12 conference, but only one in the top ten.
The rankings make a difference when it comes to deciding Washington’s bowl fate. If USC makes the college football playoffs, the Rose Bowl will have its Pac-12 teams selected as representatives for the conference. Washington as the top-seeded of those teams would be the way for them to almost guarantee they would be selected. It seems likely that a loss to USC in Friday’s Pac-12 title game would drop Utah at least a spot, but it’s no guarantee the game will be as close as their first contest.
It also makes a difference for a seat at large in the Cotton Bowl. The highest ranked team in the CFP remaining after the remaining NY6 spots have been decided will receive that spot against the winner of the AAC title game between Tulane and Central Florida. Given the current positioning, it seems very unlikely that the Huskies would be able to get to that spot.
Penn State appears to be the bubble team for this spot considering conference alignments within the rest of the NY6 bowls, and they are 4 spots ahead of Washington (although they have 0 wins over the top 25 teams). There isn’t a single result in any of the conference championship games that seems to push a competitor of that spot out of UW’s path without also elevating that game’s winner.
Given these results, it seems likely that there are three remaining scenarios:
USC beats Utah in Pac-12 title game to make CFP title game, UW skips Utah to Rose Bowl.
USC beats Utah in Pac-12 title game and makes CFP title game, but Utah stays just ahead of UW and goes to the Rose Bowl (less likely).
Utah beats Utah in Pac-12 title game and goes to Rose Bowl, USC goes to Cotton Bowl, Washington goes to Alamo Bowl.
Hmm, I wasn’t expecting #11 Utah to be above #12 Washington. Rose Bowl Implications.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 30, 2022