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Mailbag: Dream Crushers Edition

Answering your questions on UW’s Pac-12 title game/bowl outlooks plus plenty more about the win over Oregon

Washington v Oregon Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

What is the scenario where we make the Pac-12 title game? -BleedingPurple

Assuming that the dawgs don’t make it to the pac-12 championship, what is the best bowl that we could expect them to make? -LockerStalker54

I spent a portion of Sunday updating my spreadsheet to keep track of all of the results to try to figure out the complete odds but realized quickly that Oregon State’s game versus Arizona State does matter and that figuring out the tiebreakers for each of 250+ scenarios was way more complicated than it should have been. Also, UW’s odds are very very very small. Therefore I defer to JoeinKenmore who put together this very informative FanPost.

Essentially the path to a title game berth involves all of the following:

-UW wins out (Colorado, WSU)

-Oregon beats Utah but loses at Oregon State

-USC beats UCLA

It also involves one of the following happening:

-UCLA loses to Cal and Oregon State beats Arizona State


-Utah loses to Colorado

Obviously the UCLA loss to Cal is more likely although the Bears just fired their OL coach and offensive coordinator (again) which should tell you how they feel about their chances versus anyone right now. Washington will get to find out firsthand how bad Colorado is on Saturday and the odds of them winning at Utah feel like they are basically microscopic.

Using the updated percentages from FPI’s win probability it comes out to a 1.8% chance that the first of those 2 scenarios happen. The least likely single outcome is the Cal upset of UCLA at 29.6%. Although if UCLA does lose to USC this week and Cal beats Stanford then the odds will seem a little better.

There’s a 0.08% chance that scenario B happens where Utah loses to both Oregon and Colorado. Scratch that off the list.

Overall then we’re discussing about a 2.0% chance that Washington is able to face off against USC in the Pac-12 title game (in all of the hypotheticals, that’s their only possible opponent).

If we’re talking about unlikely scenarios then it must be discussed that there is also a very outside shot of the Huskies sneaking their way into the Rose Bowl. There is that less than 2% chance we make the title game and then cut that down by more than half to say we also win it and earn that berth the old fashioned way as a Pac-12 champion.

On the other side we almost certainly would need USC to make the College Football Playoff and force the Rose Bowl to go for their 2nd choice in the conference. Tell me if this scenario sounds completely insane?

-UW wins out

-Oregon beats Utah then loses to Oregon State in regular season

-USC wins out (@UCLA, Notre Dame, Pac-12 title game versus Oregon)

-Ohio State crushes Michigan in Columbus and wins the B1G title game

-TCU loses to Kansas State in Big 12 title game

The College Football Playoff would take undefeated Georgia and Ohio State. Then there are 2 spots left between 1-loss conference champ USC, 1-loss division runner-up Michigan, 1-loss division runner-up Tennessee, 1-loss conference runner-up TCU, and 1-loss conference champ Clemson/North Carolina. The only 2 conference champions at that point would be USC and then either Clemson or North Carolina but USC would have a win over Notre Dame while both Clemson and North Carolina lost to the Irish. I’m assuming that would give the Trojans a tiebreaker if it came down to it. Then you’d need the committee to pick multiple teams that didn’t win their conference over USC. I can see a world where they take Tennessee and Michigan but then you’re just completely discounting the regular season results for the computer metrics which they haven’t always done.

Now it comes down to who gets the Pac-12 spot in the Rose Bowl. The choices at this point are a 10-2 UW, 9-4 Oregon, and 9-3 Utah. The Ducks made the Pac-12 title game but will have 2 more losses and lost to UW at home. Utah’s 2nd conference loss (@Oregon) is better than UW’s (@ASU) but they also lost in non-conference play to what has turned out to be a pretty mediocre Florida team albeit in The Swamp. I could see it. Even if Washington doesn’t get selected for the Rose Bowl, if they finish 10-2 there’s still a chance they move up far enough to get a NY6 at-large spot against the AAC champion in the Cotton Bowl.

So... Are you telling us that we should be rooting for Oregon to beat Utah this weekend? I don’t know if I can do that. It seems a lot of other pieces need to fall in place for that to help our chances of making the title game. -HR

Definitely not. When there’s a 2% chance of something happening and it directly goes against another outcome I want, I’m not going to stress about it. What happens if you root for Oregon to win on Saturday afternoon and then UCLA goes and beats USC on Saturday night immediately after? You just spent 3.5 hours rooting for Oregon for absolutely nothing.

I’m not going to tell anyone they have to root for Oregon against Utah. For those who want to keep the dream alive of a Pac-12 title, I totally get it. I would personally root for Utah because I would rather the Utes still be alive for a Pac-12 title rather than Oregon given that there’s no guarantee Oregon loses at Oregon State the next week. And if it turns out that Oregon wins? Then at least it keeps hopes alive for the UW making the Pac-12 title game scenario.

Also, I’m going to be at two separate weddings on Saturday afternoon/evening so I will not get to see a second of any of the games live and therefore don’t have to worry about rooting interests. So none of that matters for me personally. Lucky me.

Did either the 4th and 1 slip or the Davis touchdown feel a tiny bit miraculous for you? It seems like the gods may have intervened, no? -Rhaego

Upon review, was it a completion, or was it an interception? -Gou Wei

I think it’s a completion but that’s what the Pac-12 Refs called on the field so I feel like it has to be the opposite, right? How could they possibly not screw up a play like that?

The ball never hits the ground so it can’t be incomplete. There’s a point where McMillan clearly only has one hand on the ball and the two players are on the ground. The primary question is whether Gonzalez has firm control of the ball at that moment that I think McMillan definitely doesn’t have joint control. It doesn’t look 100% secure and by the time Gonzalez has a better hold on it, McMillan also has both hands on it again and then wrests it away.

If the situations had been reversed I know that I would be furious that they called this a catch. And I really don’t think it would’ve been wrong to call it an interception. Had the situations been reversed and McMillan had been the defender I think they absolutely give Gonzalez possession. Tie goes to the runner wins the day (which by the way isn’t an actual rule in baseball, just a convention.)

How much continuity do you expect DeBoer’s coaching staff will have between this year and next, from either us poaching or getting poached? -2003_HuskyGrad

If anyone gets poached from the current roster I would expect it to be OC/QB coach Ryan Grubb getting a head coaching position. I don’t see the opening right now where he’d be an obvious fit but I’m sure there’s a mid-major who is talking about him. Would Grubb take an opening at a MAC school to go back to the Midwest? Maybe. I don’t really see a Mountain West school that seems primed to open that would take him.

It would be painful for me but JaMarcus Shepherd leaving for somewhere that he actually gets play calling responsibilities (if that’s what he wants) also wouldn’t be a shock. Cohen and Deboer gave him everything else that we could in order to get him here in the first place.

Many fans including myself were underwhelmed by Scott Huff returning but the offensive line has been phenomenal this season. I don’t know if Huff has any higher ambitions than being an o-line coach but if he does then this would seem an opportune time to try to make that leap before UW graduates several key pieces.

There have been plenty of calls for heads to roll on the defensive coaching staff but I don’t see that happening. Let’s say that DeBoer had kept around one of the coaches in the secondary last year as a holdover rather than bringing in his own guys. In that case I could understand DeBoer making a move by saying it was a one year audition and they didn’t pass. Instead, the relationship goes deeper with everyone on that side of the ball.

I’m guessing (and it’s just a guess) that it would take 2 years of poor results to necessitate a change unless there was something very obvious behind the scenes giving DeBoer no choice. And it should go without saying that I don’t think the UW defensive coaches are going to be very high in demand as potentially getting poached right about now.

With around 3 minutes left in the game, why did we go for passing plays instead of trying to burn some clock so we’d be the last TD? Was it just Davis caught the pass and unexpectedly had a ton of green so he took what he could get? -CT3

Coming into what ultimately was Washington’s second to last drive the Huskies were averaging 11.1 yards per pass attempt. In a game where neither defense did much to stop the other in the second half I understand why there has to be some consideration for scoring too quickly. At the same time though you almost lose the game on the spot if you don’t score a touchdown. Once you get down inside the red zone you can start thinking about burning time off the clock but otherwise you take the touchdown when you can get it.

In the Monday press conference Ryan Grubb said they ran that same play earlier in the game and the first look is to Odunze. They mentioned that they saw a potential opening for Davis based on Oregon’s coverage but that requires a ridiculous throw. It turns out that Penix made such a throw and Oregon’s defender was so surprised that he took a bad angle and allowed Davis to get past him and score. If you had frozen time with the ball in flight and asked Penix what the result was going to be I bet he would have said something more like a 20-yard completion where the safety knocks Davis out of bounds after the catch. Otherwise, you take what you can get.

Washington v Oregon Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Does Deboer get an extension/more money in the offseason? He’s really turned the program around in a single season, and I wonder if bigger programs start pecking around to see if he’s available. On a tangential note: How does the hiring process look now that Matt Campbell has looked horrible at Iowa State this season? -dregur

It probably depends on how aggressive DeBoer’s agent decides to get and what jobs continue to open up. Last silly season was insane with an unprecedented amount of coach stealing. When Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Oregon all have their sitting head coach take another job you know it could happen to anyone.

We’ll start to know more in the next few weeks. Could Nebraska step in with a Godfather offer to DeBoer that requires UW to give him a massive extension to stick around? It’s possible although it sounds like they already are a ways into their search. At the moment I don’t see another school that would potentially try it but we’ll have to see how things shake out. I’m sure that Jen Cohen is going to be somewhat gun shy about giving a massive extension to DeBoer early after what happened with Mike Hopkins on the men’s basketball side.

I still think that Matt Campbell would’ve worked at Washington. Maybe he wouldn’t have been worth twice as much as DeBoer but you need context with his season at Iowa State. The Cyclones are 1-6 in the Big 12 and in last place, yes. They aren’t Stanford or Colorado though. They have just a minus 16 scoring margin in those games. And they’re 1-6. I’m sure some bad coaching decisions have caused such a bad record in close game but there’s also certainly some bad luck involved. They’re still 40th in SP+ and Iowa State is one of the worst power conference jobs in the country. I’d still bet on Campbell long-term to continue having them competent which is an achievement in and of itself.

What was your favorite play? Who is your underrated performer? Should a ballad be written in Peyton Henry’s honor? -George RR Martin’s Dragon

Favorite Play: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Penix’s spin move and scramble on 3rd and 14 on the first drive

Underrated Performer: Stanley Tucci Jaxson Kirkland

Peyton Henry Ballad: Verily, yea

Where is the line drawn for when a losing team “gives the game away” vs winning team “won the game outright” ? I’ve been seeing some comments from news and social media about how Oregon’s coaching gave the game away...doesn’t that thinking insinuate that UW didn’t deserve the win? It felt like we were pretty well matched against Oregon and at the end of the game, the better team between the two. -doogannash

It’s part of media narratives 101 that a team is more likely to “give away” a win if they were the favorites playing at home. Especially when it requires a comeback from the other team. There’s also a fine line between saying someone gave the game away and then thinking that the winning team didn’t deserve it. I’ve seen postgame win expectancy formulas that said that UW was as high as 90% and as low as 35% so even the analytical models don’t agree on how much UW “deserved” the win.

Oregon though was in a position where they had 3 plays to get 5 yards and it would put the game nearly out of reach. A bad snap caused an incompletion and clock stoppage on 2nd and 5. Then Nix was stopped short and came up hurt which likely caused Lanning to change his mind about a 4th down try and instead they kicked the field goal to go up only 7. If Oregon gets a first down there it at the very least takes away all of UW’s timeouts before they kick their field goal but more likely instead allows them to score a touchdown and go up 10.

Washington made plays from that point on. Alex Cook stopped Nix and injured him with a totally legal tackle. The Penix to Davis long touchdown was spectacular. Still, I can understand the feeling that the Huskies got a little fortunate in that moment. Enough so that neutral observers who expected an Oregon blowout feel that Oregon at least did as much to lose the game late as Washington did to win it. In the end though it’s a zero-sum game.