Washington moved up to No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night, putting the Huskies on the verge of a berth in the semifinals.
Washington Replaces Florida State in Top 4
Washington jumped Florida State to take the No. 4 spot after the Huskies remained unbeaten with a 52-22 victory over Colorado. The top three teams in the selection committee rankings were unchanged from last week, with Georgia (11-0) still No. 1, ahead of No. 2 Ohio State (11-0) and No. 3 Michigan (11-0).
The Huskies (10-0) finished last season 7-5 in their first year under coach Kalen DeBoer but made a surprising surge into playoff contention this season behind quarterback Michael Penix Jr. The Indiana transfer leads the nation in passing yards per game (366) and touchdowns (32).
Only two teams that started the season unranked by AP have finished in the top four of the final CFP standings since the system began in 2014. Cincinnati did it last year, finishing No. 4 before losing to Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. Michigan State was No. 3 in the 2015 final rankings after starting unranked.
Washington gets a chance to earn its way into playoff history against rival Washington State (7-4) on Saturday. It would cap an amazing turnaround for a program that had mostly struggled for the better part of a decade.
SEC Powers Georgia and Alabama Hold Top 2 Spots
Defending national champion Georgia remains No. 1, followed by fellow SEC power Alabama at No. 2.
The Bulldogs strengthened their hold on the top spot after grinding out a 16-6 win at Kentucky. Georgia is trying to become the first team to repeat as College Football Playoff champions. Alabama beat Austin Peay 34-0 last weekend and plays rival Auburn on Saturday.
Ohio State and Michigan will play this weekend as top-five teams for the first time in their storied 117-game rivalry. Even without that, renewed chatter about whether two teams from the same conference should take up half of the four CFP spots had already started ramping up earlier this month.
“We don’t look at any one game different than any other game,” said selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan, who happens to be North Carolina State’s athletic director. His team handed Clemson its only loss this season.
ACC Leader Clemson Rounds Out Top 6
After Washington at No. 4, the highest ranked champion from a non-Power Five league will be guaranteed a spot in the CFP under the expanded playoff format set to go into effect in 2024.
Clemson (10-1) jumped three spots to No. 8 after pummeling Miami. Clemson’s only loss was to Notre Dame in South Bend on Nov. 5. They’d been as low as No. 12.
The Tigers will play rival South Carolina this weekend, trying to win their seventh ACC championship in eight years under coach Dabo Swinney. That would likely put Clemson back in the playoff mix, vying with the Big Ten and SEC powers.
|2. Ohio State
LSU Moves Up to No. 9 After Win Over UAB
No. 6 LSU and No. 7 USC both won on Saturday night to hold their places.
LSU routed UAB 41-10. The Tigers already have a spot in the SEC championship game secured. They’ll move up if Alabama loses this weekend or if Tennessee loses to Vanderbilt. The Vols play at red-hot South Carolina, which upset the formerly third-ranked Vols 63-38 on Oct. 29.
USC beat crosstown rival UCLA 48-45 to remain a game up on Oregon and Utah in the Pac-12.
Oregon jumping three spots to round out the top 10 was eye-catching and signifies that the committee still likes the Ducks, despite the one-point home loss to Washington on Nov. 12.
Reaction from Coaches, Media, and Fans
The top six remains unchanged from last week as championship weekend approaches. Coaches, media members and fans weighed on social media about where their teams landed in the penultimate rankings.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he was pleased to see six teams from the Big Ten populate the selection committee’s top 25.
“I think that’s great for the Big Ten conference, to have six teams in the top 25,” Harbaugh said.
Penn State coach James Franklin said at his press conference that he hopes voters, to use common sense, stop worrying about conferences and instead pick the four most deserving teams.
“I personally think the four best resumes is the way you should go instead of trying to figure out how you can get co-champions in and leagues represented,” Franklin said.
Many fans on social media echoed Franklin’s comments and questioned why Clemson was only No. 8.
“Clemson beat the brakes off a 10 win team and jumped to #8 but if Bama beats a 6 win Auburn it solidifies #2? The hypocrisy of “body of work”,” one Twitter user wrote.
What’s Next Week and Key Games
Championship Week features rivalry games such as Michigan-Ohio State, Alabama-Auburn, Washington-Washington State and Clemson-South Carolina.
No. 4 Washington against Washington State got flexed to Fox at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
With no divisions in the Pac-12, the championship matchup will be No. 12 Oregon against No. 14 Utah at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday night. If USC loses to Notre Dame and Oregon beats the Utes, it could set up a three-way tie for the Pac-12 title — assuming Washington wins the Apple Cup.
Auburn has already fired coach Bryan Harsin after just two seasons that yielded only nine victories. Whoever takes over next at Auburn, where Harsin went 9-12, will become only the third coach at the school in the last 27 seasons.
The final rankings and CFP pairings come out Sunday, Dec. 4.
The semifinals will be played at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, and the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on Dec. 31, with the national championship game scheduled for Jan. 9 in Inglewood, California.
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