Not only have the Huskies proved they belong, they’ve proved they might be the top one-loss team in the country, writes columnist Matt Calkins.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Arizona is nice in December.
You can take in some rays, play 18 holes — maybe even jaunt to Sedona.
I’m just pointing this out to Huskies fans, because if they plan on traveling with their team for the College Football Playoff, they’re going to be headed for the Grand Canyon State.
Assuming the selection committee knows what it’s doing, of course.
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How to watch the CFP selection show
The Huskies did more than just win on Friday — they dismantled the No. 9 team in the country. In Washington’s 41-10 win over Colorado, you half expected the refs to call for a running clock.
UW’s running backs plowed through the second-best defense in the Pac-12. UW’s secondary had three interceptions and held the Buffaloes to 81 yards passing. UW’s roster outclassed Colorado’s in every facet of the game.
After that performance, it appears impossible for the CFP committee to leave Washington out of the playoffs. It would render the process ridiculous if that were to happen.
But this isn’t a column arguing that the Huskies should merely make the playoffs — it’s arguing that they should be the No. 2 or 3 seed and play in the Fiesta Bowl.
“There are doubters and haters out there, but we talk with our pads,” Huskies linebacker Psalm Wooching said. “We showed them (doubters) that they were wrong. Obviously. We won the Pac-12 championship by a huge margin.”
Do you think you made a case that you should be a higher seed than four?
“Yes,” Wooching said.
Washington (12-1) has never appeared higher than fourth in the CFP rankings, and before Friday, that was OK. No. 2 Ohio State certainly had a tougher schedule than the Huskies, and while No. 3 Clemson’s résumé wasn’t as impressive as the Buckeyes’, you could still make a case for the Tigers to be ranked above UW.
But the narrative changed after that clobbering Friday. Even if Clemson wins the ACC championship game Saturday, Washington playing Alabama in Atlanta shouldn’t be a given.
Not only have the Huskies proved they belong, they’ve proved they might be the top one-loss team in the country.
We can start with a comparative score.
In Week 3, Michigan beat Colorado, 45-28, in Ann Arbor. The Huskies’ win over the Buffaloes was far more lopsided, and it came on a neutral field. Additionally, the Wolverines were trailing before Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau left the game with an injury.
This is significant for two reasons. The first is that there is absolutely no argument you can make for Michigan (10-2) to leapfrog the Huskies in the rankings now. The second is that most people view Michigan as the equivalent to Ohio State, as last weeks’ double-overtime loss in Columbus would suggest.
In other words, Washington’s résumé suddenly looks just as strong, if not stronger than the Buckeyes’. The Huskies’ loss to USC is just as forgivable as OSU’s loss to Penn State — and the Huskies have a conference title that Ohio State does not have.
The committee has stated that “championships won” will be used as a tiebreaker when making a tough decision, and after Friday’s game, this is a tough decision indeed.
“We dominated everything you could have asked of us in every phase,” UW defensive lineman Elijah Qualls said. “I’m saying that because of how much respect I have for (Colorado). They’re not just some suckers off the block. They’re one of the toughest teams in the country.”
Plus, it’s not as though Clemson (11-1) has been definitively better than the Huskies. With wins over Auburn, Louisville and Florida State, the Tigers have beaten three teams in the CFP Top 25 (none in the top 10) and will have a chance to make it four against Virginia Tech. Washington? It has beaten three teams in the CFP Top 25 (Stanford, Colorado and Utah), got a victory against a top-10 team in Colorado, and destroyed Washington State last week when the Cougars were ranked 23rd.
Also, UW lost to 11th-ranked USC while Clemson fell to No. 25 Pittsburgh. If the Tigers don’t annihilate the Hokies on Saturday, Washington has a strong case to leapfrog them as well.
After Friday’s win, Huskies coach Chris Petersen was asked what he thinks his team showed the committee.
“I mean, we think we’ve got a heck of a team and we belong in there,” he said. “I think they’ll do what they should do, which is the right thing.”
The right thing isn’t just putting the Huskies in the playoffs. The right thing is having them play in the Arizona desert.