A sampling of national-media reaction after the Huskies lost to USC at home and what it means for their College Football Playoff odds.
At least the Huskies weren’t the only ones who fell victim to an upset on Saturday. And it seems the path to the College Football Playoff still exists.
But it was surprising to see UW (9-1, 6-1) fall to USC 26-13 at Husky Stadium in front of a sellout crowd. The defense couldn’t quite rattle the Trojans and the Huskies were unable to rally.
With games remaining against Arizona State (at home) and Washington State (in Pullman) and a possible Pac-12 title game, Washington could finish 12-1 and find its way back into the playoff mix. FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Huskies a 32 percent chance of winning out and taking the conference.
The national media had plenty to say about UW and where it stands in the playoff race. Below is a sampling:
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Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated sized up the Huskies’ chances of reaching the playoffs:
“Now it starts to get tricky. Entering Saturday, the committee considered the Huskies the weakest of the undefeated Power 5 teams. The way USC won on Washington’s home field will give committee members pause, but those same members also will recognize that this is a very different USC team than the one that lost 52–6 to Alabama in the season opener and started 1–3. Washington still controls its path to the Pac-12 title. If the Huskies beat Arizona State and Washington State, they’ll win the North Division. (The Apple Cup is no gimme, either.) It’s safe to say they’d rather not see the Trojans again, but that’s not a guarantee. … The question now is whether the committee will consider a one-loss Pac-12 champ better than a one-loss non-champ from another league. (Particularly Ohio State.)”
Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel said Washington lost its margin of error:
“While Washington’s loss won’t kill its playoff chances, it certainly adds an element of doubt and leaves the Huskies with little wiggle room. The playoff was an uncomfortable topic for Washington players in the postgame, as quarterback Jake Browning rolled his eyes when asked about it a second time.”
Chuck Culpepper of The Washington Post pointed out the Trojans offered a stark reminder of who they are:
“They took the nation’s best-rated passer, Browning, and left him half-muddled with its collective speed, sacking him three times, hurrying him more and finally leaving him stumbling at his own 6-yard line for a 21-yard loss just before the curtain dropped. They gummed up his mission with its populous rushing defense.”
Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde said the Huskies can still find themselves in the playoff:
“Clemson, Michigan and Washington are by no means dead. They just came back to the pack and lost their margin of error. If those three teams win out, they’d have good chances of still making the playoff field … Washington is trying to prop up a pretty thin résumé, but that resume would improve with wins over Washington State and in the Pac-12 title game.”
Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com put Clemson in his top four playoff contenders but thought Washington was far from dead:
“The Huskies’ 26-13 loss to USC in Seattle doesn’t knock them out of the CFP race, but it sure raised some concerns about whether they’re still the best team in the Pac-12. As long as Washington wins its last two games against Arizona State (home) and No. 23 Washington State (road), and then wins the Pac-12 championship game, it will have a good chance of being one of the four teams in the playoff.”
USA Today’s Dan Wolken thought the Huskies were probably OK even after a loss:
“This is where it gets a bit more controversial. Saturday’s 26-13 loss to surging Southern Cal means the Huskies are just 1-1 against top-25 teams and played a poor non-conference schedule (Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State). Still, if they win out, which would include wins at Washington State and against either Colorado or USC in the
Ben Kercheval of CBSSports.com listed Washington as one of his losers for this week:
“The Huskies could have bought themselves some goodwill during an upset weekend by knocking off a much-improved USC. Instead, they dropped a tough home game 26-13 against a team that flat-out beat ’em up in the trenches. Remember: this is Washington we’re talking about, one of the most physical teams in the nation. The loss doesn’t necessarily knock the Huskies out of the playoff, but the margin for error just went way down if the selection committee drops them like a rock.”
SportingNews.com’s Bill Bender took stock of a chaotic college football Saturday:
“The Pac-12 is going to feel that Washington loss, mainly because Washington had a weak nonconference schedule. Two-loss Oklahoma or one-loss West Virginia vs. one-loss Washington or a two-loss champ such as Colorado or Washington State would be a hell of an argument down the road, and it’s one the Huskies should win based on a conference championship game. Who wins the one-loss argument? Washington. Who wins the two-loss battle royale if it comes to that? Oklahoma.”