We're down to just five games remaining that can affect UW's postseason destination and the path to a New Year's 6 bowl has shrunk down to just a few scenarios. Before we dive into the rooting guide let's start with an overview of the major bowls and what the seeding looks like this year.
Update: With the USC loss to Utah there is no longer a path to a NY6 bowl game for UW. The Cotton bowl will almost certainly take a higher ranked USC or Tennessee team. I've updated the bowl matchups below based upon how things look as of 11:07AM PST.
CFP Semifinal #1 - Fiesta Bowl - CFP #1 vs. CFP #4 or CFP #2 vs. CFP #3
CFP Semifinal #2 - Peach Bowl - CFP #1 vs. CFP #4 or CFP #2 vs. CFP #3
Rose Bowl - Pac-12 Champion vs. Big-10 Champion (replacements selected from those conferences for playoff participants)
Orange Bowl - ACC Champion vs. Big-10 runner-up, SEC runner-up, or Notre Dame
Cotton Bowl - No conference tie-ins
Sugar Bowl - SEC Champion vs. Big-12 Champion (replacements selected from those conferences for playoff participants)
There are 12 spots available and 11 are guaranteed by conference tie-ins, CFP rules, and Go5 rules. That means Washington is fighting for one of two spots. Based upon the current rankings here's how the slotting currently sits:
Playoff: 1 SEC, 1 Big-10, 1 Big-12, 1 Pac-12
Bowl tie-ins: 1 Pac-12, 1 Big-10, 2 SEC, 1 Big-12, 1 Go5
Matchups (rankings are current, not projected, because the CFP committee sucks and I won't even attempt to guess at their trash):
Peach Bowl: #1 Georgia vs. #3 TCU
Fiesta Bowl: #2 Michigan vs. #5 Ohio State
Rose Bowl: #11 Utah vs. #8 Penn State
Orange Bowl: #9 Clemson vs. #7 Tennessee
Sugar Bowl: #6 Alabama vs. #10 Kansas State
Cotton Bowl: #4 USC vs. #18 Tulane
As you can see we are screwed. There's a 0.00001% chance we make the Cotton Bowl and that will only happen if USC beats Utah and is snubbed for the playoff. I don't see that happening so the only result that matters to us is USC defeating Utah and that being enough to drop Utah beneath us in the final rankings. The Rose Bowl does still have latitude to pick Washington over Utah but the written preference by the conference and the CFP committee is that the Rose Bowl should select the next highest ranked.
Update #1 (11:07AM): - The only way UW can get in is if USC falls beneath them in the rankings and the Cotton Bowl takes UW instead. Highly unlikely... There's also a strong possiblity that USC doesn't even make the Cotton Bowl. If Purdue or LSU win their games today they'll effectively steal a spot from the Pac-12 and demote Penn State or Tennessee into the Cotton. What a complete disaster the end of this season has been for the Pac-12.
It's pretty simple. We want all favorites to win but the only game that matters to us is USC vs. Utah. Things change a little for the SEC and the playoff based upon the outcomes of the other games but due to Michigan and TCU being undefeated any loss by them wouldn't open up new opportunities for UW. The committee has already shown they value 2-loss UW less than many 3-loss teams and less than ALL other 2-loss teams. That won't change in a week so if USC loses we'll be behind them still too.
- USC vs. Utah - Friday at 5:00PM PST -
Under no circumstances can Utah win this game and the Huskies still make a major bowl. This is the only game that matters for us all weekend. The rest can cause chaos for the playoff scenarios but conference tie-ins are already set and either Tennessee or Alabama is gauranteed to be the Cotton Bowl participant to face either Tulane or UCF (if LSU beats Georgia they will bump Tennessee from the major bowls).
Result: Utah 47, USC 24 - Our only hope is that USC gets dropped beneath us in the rankings and the Cotton Bowl selects us instead. That's almost certain to not happen as the committee has given no respect to UW all year.
- TCU vs. Kansas State - Saturday at 9:00AM PST - This game should have no affect on NY6 bowl slots as if Kansas State wins they will be in the Sugar Bowl and if Kansas State loses the Sugar Bowl will take either them or Texas. Either way TCU should be in the playoff. If by some dumbass decision by this committee they aren't that would mean Alabama is in the playoff and TCU would end up in the Cotton.
- Georgia vs. LSU - Saturday at 1:00PM PST - Cheer for Georgia in this game. If LSU wins it will trigger a cascading effect that will knock USC out of the Cotton Bowl and push UW down to the Holiday Bowl.
- UCF vs. Tulane - Saturday at 1:00PM PST - Cheer for Tulane in this game. If USC (or by some miracle, UW) makes the Cotton Bowl we want the strongest possible Go5 opponent for them. If it's USC we want them to lose so UW can finish as the highest Pac-12 team in the end of year rankings. If it's UW we want the best quality win we can manage.
- Michigan vs. Purdue - Saturday at 5:00PM PST - Cheer for Michigan in this game. If Purdue wins it will trigger a cascading effect that will knock USC out of the Cotton Bowl and push UW down to the Holiday Bowl.
- Clemson vs. North Carolina - Saturday at 5:00PM PST - Cheer for whoever you want. This game has zero affect on NY6 seeding. I'll be cheering for North Carolina because I want teams ranked ahead of UW to lose. Utah is already going to jump us in the AP/Coaches polls next week and if Clemson wins they'll jump us as well. UW will likely drop in the rankings next week without even playing a game.