A sampling of national-media reaction in the wake of Washington securing a berth in the College Football Playoff.
In the end, Washington ended up where it was supposed to.
The Huskies, on the heels of a resounding 41-10 victory over Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game, secured the fourth and final College Football Playoff berth on Sunday morning, drawing a semifinal showdown with top-seeded Alabama in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.
The odds appear daunting, but FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Huskies a 36 percent chance of beating the Crimson Tide. Besides this, the national media had plenty to say about Washington being in the playoff. Below is a sampling:
Ted Miller of ESPN.com said the committee got it right picking Washington over other Big Ten teams:
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“Heading into Sunday, Washington’s case was the strongest when the arguments were completely ferreted out, not cherry-picked. The Huskies, like the other teams in the top four, had the best record among the teams in the debate. They also won the Pac-12 title. Their lone defeat was a close game to a top-10 USC squad. Their résumé includes wins over three teams in the CFP rankings. They played 11 different Power 5 foes and went 5-0 on the road, not including the conference title game.”
ESPN.com’s Chris Low broke down the semifinal matchups:
“The first thing Washington is going to have to do if the Huskies are going to have any chance in this game is not beat themselves. Alabama has a way of pouncing on other teams’ mistakes and then not letting them back in the game. The Crimson Tide have scored 14 non-offensive touchdowns this season and have allowed fewer than 20 points in 11 of their 13 games.”
Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated attempted to figure out how the committee came to its conclusions:
“Argument No. 1: Ohio State should not make the playoff over Penn State because Penn State beat Ohio State and won the Big Ten title. This is a philosophical discussion. Argument No. 2: Washington should not make the playoff over Penn State because Penn State’s résumé is better than Washington’s. This is a judgment call. Based on where Ohio State ended up (No. 3), we can conclude the committee didn’t have argument No. 1 because it considered the Buckeyes’ résumé better than the Nittany Lions’ résumé. Based on where Washington (No. 4) and Penn State (No. 5) ended up and based on the statements of committee chair Kirby Hocutt, we know the committee had argument No. 2 and concluded that it felt Washington had the better résumé.”
Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde also thought the committee got it right:
“The committee also chose Washington over Penn State because the Huskies had a better record (12-1 to 11-2), and because their one loss (to red-hot USC) was certainly superior to the Nittany Lions’ two losses (to four-loss Pittsburgh and the aforementioned blowout against Michigan). Yes, the Huskies played a soft non-conference schedule consisting of Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State. But they also dominated Pac-12 South champion Colorado and a ranked Stanford team: combined margin of victory in those games was 85-16, against teams that finished a combined 19-6.”
Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com said a spirited debate emerged over Washington vs. Penn State:
“CFP committee chairman Kirby Hocutt suggested in his remarks to ESPN that this was the most significant debate. It paired a one-loss Pac-12 champion with a weak nonconference schedule against a two-loss Big Ten champion with a better schedule. Hocutt said a number of factors were “spiritedly” discussed: Penn State had one more loss, Penn State wasn’t competitive in one loss (a 39-point defeat to Michigan) and its other loss came against an 8-4 team (Pittsburgh, which is ranked in the top 25), and Penn State had a better strength of schedule.”
SportingNews.com’s Bill Bender said it was a simple case of Penn State having two losses instead of one:
“Ohio State doesn’t have a conference championship. Clemson doesn’t pass the eye test. Washington didn’t have the nonconference schedule. Doesn‘t matter. None of that matters. They all had one loss. Everybody else got tangled up in the two-loss mess, and that’s the quickest way to get left out. You could argue Penn State is better than Ohio State, Michigan is better than Clemson or even Oklahoma is better than Washington. None of that matters either. They all have two losses.”
Zac Al-Khateeb of SportingNews.com listed four ways to beat Alabama, including having a playmaking quarterback:
“For all its toughness, Alabama also has a historical weakness against quarterbacks who can make plays with their feet and arms under Saban. That was the case against Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly this season, against Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in 2015 and the case against guys like Johnny Manziel and Trevor Knight (with Oklahoma). Let your quarterback go out and make plays. Washington’s Jake Browning, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and Watson all fit that mold.”
The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman attempted to break down the schedules of Penn State and Washington:
“But even that kind of head-to-head evaluation is an oversimplification. Penn State played Rutgers, too, in conference play. As a thought experiment, pretend that Penn State’s game against Rutgers was part of the nonconference schedule and that the Pitt matchup was a league game. (I am a Big Ten sports fan, please let me kick Rutgers out of the league, even in my imagination.) In that case, PSU’s and Washington’s nonconference schedules would look kind of similar. Don’t forget, Idaho won eight games!”