The Washington Huskies are ranked 12th in the College Football Playoff rankings that just came out this afternoon. That is up only one spot from last week despite an 18-point road victory over Washington State in the Apple Cup. Meanwhile the Utah Utes moved up 3 spots after beating 1-11 Colorado by almost the exact same margin that the Huskies did the previous week. It also puts the Dawgs 4 spots behind where they’re ranked in both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll.
Throughout the rest of the Pac-12: UCLA is 17th, Oregon is 16th, Oregon State is 15th, and USC is 4th. That puts 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 for the purposes of deciding Washington’s bowl fate. If USC makes the College Football Playoff then the Rose Bowl has their pick of Pac-12 teams to take as the representative for the conference. Washington being the highest ranked of those teams would be the way for them to almost guarantee that they are selected. It seems likely that a loss to USC in Friday’s Pac-12 title game would move Utah down at least 1 spot but it’s not a guarantee if the game is as close as their first contest was.
It also makes a difference for the purposes of an at-large spot in the Cotton Bowl. The highest ranked team in the CFP left after the rest of the NY6 spots are decided gets 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 into that spot.
Penn State appears to be the bubble team for that spot given the conference alignments within the rest of the NY6 bowls and they are 4 spots ahead of Washington (despite having 0 wins over top-25 teams). There’s no single result in any of the conference championship games that appears to knock one contender from that spot out of UW’s way without also elevating the winner of that game.
Given these results it seems likely there are 3 remaining scenarios:
USC beats Utah in Pac-12 title game and makes CFP title game, UW leapfrogs Utah and goes to Rose Bowl.
USC beats Utah in Pac-12 title game and makes CFP title game, but Utah stays narrowly ahead of UW and goes to Rose Bowl (less likely).
Utah beats USC in Pac-12 title game and goes to Rose Bowl, USC goes to Cotton Bowl, Washington goes to Alamo Bowl.
Hmm, did not expect No. 11 Utah to be above No. 12 Washington. Rose Bowl implications.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 30, 2022