Huskies in prime position to move into the top four if they win the Apple Cup on Friday.

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The Huskies are again in position to claim their first national playoff berth. There is, of course, still some work to be done before they can get there.

Washington rose one to No. 5 in the new College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday, leaving the Huskies just outside of a top-four position needed for a national semifinal berth.

Washington State, meanwhile, dropped to No. 23 in the CFP entering Friday’s Apple Cup in Pullman. The CFP committee didn’t punish the Cougars (8-3, 7-1 Pac-12) much for their loss to Colorado, bumping WSU down only one spot this week.

Colorado moved up one spot to No. 9, with USC (12), Utah (22) and Stanford (24) also representing the Pac-12.

The Huskies (10-1, 7-1) had fallen two spots last week following their loss to USC. They moved back up to No. 5 following their victory over Arizona State and Louisville’s loss to Houston last week.

That puts the Huskies in prime position — if they win the Apple Cup — to move into the top four next week. No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan play Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.

The No. 5 ranking indicates that the Huskies will earn one of the four if they wind up winning the Pac-12 championship. To do that, they have to beat Washington State and then either Colorado or USC in the Dec. 2 Pac-12 title game.
Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and Clemson held the top four spots for the second straight week.
Kirby Hocutt, the CFP committee chair, said there is “not a lot of separation” between the four one-loss teams in the top five (Ohio State, Michigan, Clemson and UW). He said that the committee “likes what they’ve seen from Washington,” but added the Huskies’ relatively weak strength of schedule is what has them below those other three one-loss teams at this point.
The Sagarin ratings put the Huskies’ strength of schedule 65th nationally — the lowest strength among any of the teams ranked in the CFP top 15. Sagrain ranks Washington State’s strength of schedule 42nd.
ESPN’s Power Football Index gives the Huskies a 38.9 percent chance to win the Pac-12, and the Cougars an 18.0 percent chance.