Are the Washington State Cougars Real CFP Contenders?

Washington State hasn’t been on the national college football radar since 2002, when they went 10-3 and made a Rose Bowl appearance. But suddenly the Cougars are drawling national attention after beating No. 5 USC 30-27 on Friday night.

Washington State has now started the season 5-0. That said, they’re contenders for the Pac-12 title and also have a shot at earning a College Football Playoff (CFP) spot.

Of course, we’re only five weeks through the 2017-18 season. And this begs the question of whether or not the Cougars are a serious contender.

Let’s discuss this matter below by analyzing the USC victory along with the challenges that Washington State will face as the season moves on.

First Major Win in the Mike Leach Era

Topping the Trojans is not only Washington State’s biggest win of the year, but it’s also the most-important victory in the 5-year Mike Leach era.

washington-state-cfp-2Some say that USC simply didn’t deserve to win this game. But the Cougars must be given credit for standing in with a highly talented team for 60 minutes. Washington State did what USC’s last 13 opponents couldn’t do by winning.

“These are once-in-a-lifetime moments,” WSU quarterback Luke Falk told the Seattle Times. “I’m definitely going to enjoy it with teammates tonight. Couldn’t be more proud.”

Prior to Friday, the 16th-ranked Cougers had never notched a marquee win under Leach. And they’ve certainly had their chances since he took over the program in 2012. Washington State has:

  • Lost to Oregon three straight times when the Ducks were No. 2 overall.
  • Been beaten by Stanford when they were ranked No. 5 and No. 8.
  • Lost to a No. 10 Colorado Buffaloes team.
  • Were defeated by the No. 5 Washington Huskies last year.

What’s even more painful is that some of these losses were close heartbreaks. The best example is when they missed a last-second field goal to beat Stanford in 2015.

But this past week was different because the Cougars played with a mental and physical toughness that they haven’t exhibited in the past.

For starters, they did a good job of containing USC quarterback Sam Darnold, who’s projected as the top NFL quarterback prospect.

washington-state-cfp-3Granted, this wasn’t Darnold’s finest performance as he finished with 15-of-29 passing for no touchowns and one interception. But the Washington State defensive line was dominant and played a large role in his struggles.

Darnold was able to limit Washington State to two sacks thanks to his elusiveness. But this is misleading because the Cougars constantly pressured him throughout the game. This includes when linebacker Jahad Woods ended the game with a strip-sack on Darnold late in the fourth quarter.

Moving to offense, Falk and running back Jamal Morrow both had strong games. Falk passed for 340 yards while completing 34-of-51 passes. Morrow rushed for 91 yards on just six carries.

Perhaps more impressive than the stats is how resilient Washington State was throughout the game. Here are some examples of what the Cougars had to deal with:

  • USC running back Ronald Jones ran for an 86-yard touchdown to give USC a 14-10 lead.
  • Falk was intercepted on Washington State’s own 3-yard-line (Cougars held them to a field goal).
  • Falk converted on a fourth-and-two play to lead a late touchdown drive.
  • Converting on fourth-and-13 to eventually get a go-ahead field goal (30-27 score).

These examples show that Washington State is not only talented, but also able to deal with pressure-packed moments.

Washington State Gains National Relevance

washington-state-winThis is the first time in the last 15 years that WSU has defeated the Trojans in Pullman. And it’s the first time in the last 25 years that they’ve beaten a top-5 team.

That said, it’s no surprise fans rushed the field following the upset victory over USC.

Now the question is where Washington State will rank in the AP top 25 poll. Most expect them to leap into the top 10 and become a talking point in the CFP race.

Let’s look ahead at Washington State’s remaining schedule before discussing their CFP chances:

Sat, Oct 7 @ Oregon (4-1)
Fri, Oct 13 @ Cal (3-2)
Sat, Oct 21 vs Colorado (3-2)
Sat, Oct 28 @ Arizona (2-2)
Sat, Nov 4 vs Stanford (3-2)
Sat, Nov 11 @ #20 Utah (4-0)
Sat, Nov 25 @ #6 Washington (5-0)

Mike Leach won’t want his squad celebrating too long. After all, they have some tough remaining games. And they’ll likely need to win every one if they’re going take the Pac-12 title and earn a CFP spot.

First off, they must travel to Eugene to face Oregon. The Ducks lost at Arizona State, but they’re still a tough team.

Washington State finishes with a gauntlet to end their Pac-12 season, including games vs. Stanford, at Utah, and at Washington.

The Huskies will present the biggest test because they’re in the national title picture. And the Cougars will certainly be an underdog in this contest.

Stanford will be a difficult game because they feature Brice Love, one of the nation’s best running backs. Love is currently on a blazing pace with 1,088 rushing yards on only 98 carries (11.1 YPC).

Utah is going to provide one more hurdle. The undefeated Utes own road wins over BYU and Arizona, and could make some noise in the Pac-12.

Realistically, though, Washington State could win all of their games leading up to the Washington contest. I think that the Huskies have a good chance to win at home. But the Cougars have proven that they’re capable of beating talented teams thanks to the USC victory.

This being said, don’t be surprised if they run the table and land their first-ever CFP bid.

Why Ohio State will Win the 2017 College Football Championship

ohio-state-football-odds-2017The Ohio State Buckeyes are coming off an 11-2 season where they made the College Football Playoff. But most don’t consider this a success for the Buckeyes after they were trounced 31-0 by the Clemson Tigers in the semifinals.

Despite the convincing loss, there’s reason to believe that Ohio State is a bonafide title contender once again. For starters, they’re ranked #2 in the AP Poll behind Alabama.

But there are several other reasons why Ohio State could win their second national title in the last four years. Let’s continue discussing why OSU is the team to beat this college football season.

1. Urban Meyer Wins Championships after Bowl Losses

Head coach Urban Meyer doesn’t take bowl game losses lightly. Instead, he goes out and wins national championships the following season.

Here are the two examples:

  • 2013 – Meyer’s Florida Gators lost 41-35 to the Michigan Wolverines in the 2008 Gator Bowl. Florida came back and beat the Oklahoma Sooners 24-14 in the national title game.
  • 2014 – Coming off a 40-35 loss to Clemson in the 2013 Orange Bowl, Ohio State won the 2014 championship over the Oregon Ducks by a score of 42-20.

Obviously this is a hard trend to keep up. But Meyer has won 2 of his 3 championships coming off a bowl loss the year before. Can he make it 3-0 with this trend in 2017?

2. The Defensive Line is Back and Better than Ever

The Buckeyes might very well have the nastiest defensive line in college this season. They return everybody from last year’s D-line, including Tyquan Lewis (8 sacks), Nick Bosa (5 sacks), Sam Hubbard (3.5 sacks), and Jalyn Holmes (2.0 sacks).

Overall, Ohio State brings back 6 of their top defensive players from last year. But it’s the line that continues drawing all of the attention.

According to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, this is the “most talented group” he’s ever coached at any level.

“We had a great player in Tampa in Gerald McCoy. Tremendous player, but that was one guy,” Schiano told ESPN. “I go back to my days in Miami in ’99 and 2000, and this is clearly a better group.”

Schiano might be right when looking at the pedigrees of these linemen. Lewis and Hubbard are expected to be first-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. Bosa, a sophomore, could very well go in the first round when he leaves OSU as well.

3. Senior J.T. Barrett is Back at QB

jt-barrett-playoffsOhio State quarterback J.T. Barrett has had an up-and-down career at Ohio State.

He started his sophomore year, until an injury prevented him from playing in the 2014 CPF. Barrett then battled with Cardale Jones for playing time his sophomore year. And he was heavily criticized after throwing for just 127 yards and two interceptions against Clemson last season.

But there’s nobody else that Meyer wants back in the saddle heading into a potential championship season. Barrett is a fifth-year senior who’s won 26 of the 30 games he’s started in his career. Two of these losses are to the Tigers. But Barrett won’t have to worry about Clemson unless they meet in the CPF again.

The key thing to focus on is that Ohio State returns four of their starting offensive linemen, the starting tight end, the top wide receiver, and the top running back.

It’s rare for a college team to return so much on offense without losing some underclassmen to the pros. But Ohio State has this perfect mix coming back. And Barrett will benefit greatly from the familiarity with this group.

4. Ohio State has a Favorable Schedule

Let’s look at the Buckeyes’ schedule for a moment before getting into this point:

  • Aug 31 – @ Indiana
  • Sept 9 – vs. Oklahoma
  • Sept 16 – vs. Army
  • Sept 23 – vs. UNLV
  • Sept 30 – @ Rutgers
  • Oct 7 – vs. Maryland
  • Oct 14 – @ Nebraska
  • Oct 28 – vs. Penn State
  • Nov 4 – @ Iowa
  • Nov 11 – vs. Michigan State
  • Nov 18 – vs. Illinois
  • Nov 25 – @ Michigan

This isn’t an easy schedule by any means. After all, the Buckeyes must play Penn State, Oklahoma, and Michigan – all of which are ranked in the top 11 to start the year. But let’s break this down further.

Ohio State plays the Sooners on September 9, which gives them nine days to prepare after the Indiana game. They play Penn State on October 28, which is coming off a bye week.

The toughest test may be their rivalry game with Michigan at Ann Arbor. But the Wolverines will be coming off a tough game against Wisconsin, whom, by the way, Ohio State doesn’t play this year. The schedule is set for a perfect run – the Buckeyes just need to execute.

5. This Team has Excellent Experience

ohio-state-football-oddsLast year didn’t end how OSU wanted it to. But this is a group with plenty of juniors and seniors who are coming off a CPF appearance.

They return almost all of their offensive starters, the defensive line, and a couple other defensive starters. The one area where Ohio State lacks experience is the secondary. But the good news is that they have a great D-line that will make the young secondary players’ job easier.

It also helps that the Buckeyes don’t face a gauntlet of top-tier quarterbacks. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield will be the best that they face during the regular season. But he’s a fringe top-10 QB.

In any case, Ohio State has enough strengths that they shouldn’t have to fret over their secondary too much. And these strengths should deliver another national title to Columbus.

2017 March Madness Betting: 2 Sure Picks, 3 Value Picks

wichita-state-bettingIf you’re betting March Madness futures, you know that Villanova, Gonzaga, North Carolina, and Kansas are the most-heavily favored teams to win it all. But which of these schools is THE best bet to win the NCAA Tournament?

Beyond this, it’s also nice to have some value bets that can win you lots of money with for a small wager. That said, let’s look at two sure bets in 2017 March Madness, along with three teams that are undervalued in our GTBets futures.

2 Sure Bets

North Carolina; 27-7 record
No. 1 seed in South Regional; +600 odds

There’s absolutely no value to be had in betting on the Tar Heels to win. At +600 odds, they’re the biggest favorite at GTBets and are one of the top four seeds. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for the closest thing to a sure bet, then we suggest North Carolina. This team made it to the championship last year, where they were beaten by Villanova. Justin Jackson (18.1 PPG) and Joel Berry II (14.8 PPG) remember this as well as anybody, and they’re out for redemption. The Tar Heels have great size down low in Kennedy Meeks (12.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG) and Isaiah Hicks (12.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG). They also shoot a high overall percentage, meaning they’re less ripe for an upset than other top-tier teams.

Gonzaga Bulldogs; 32-1 record
No. 1 seed in West Regional; +850

gonzaga-2017-final-four-bettingMark Few’s teams have consistently made it to the tournament each year. However, the problem is that they’ve yet to advance beyond the Elite Eight, and they play in a weak conference. Based on these factors, we feel that Gonzaga is not only slightly undervalued, but also being overlooked as a legitimate championship team. We wrote about this team in depth a few weeks ago, with the jest being that this is Few’s best defensive squad, and they don’t rely on a Kelly Olynyk or Domantas Sabonis to carry them. Nigel Williams-Goss leads a balanced scoring effort with 16.9 PPG, while Przemek Karnowski (12.6 PPG), Jordan Matthews (10.4 PPG), Zach Collins (10.2 PPG), and Jonathan Williams (10.2 PPG) all make significant contributions.

3 Undervalued Teams

Louisville Cardinals; 24-8 record
No. 2 seed in Midwest Regional; +1400

donovan-mitchell-louisvilleIs it possible to be undervalued when you’re a No. 2 seed? Considering that Louisville is paying off at 14 to 1 odds, we think they might be given how wide open the Midwest Regional is. Kansas (+850) has gotten all the headlines and are picked far more than the Cardinals to make it out of this regional, but we don’t think they’re really this far apart. Louisville has good young players in Donovan Mitchell (15.7 PPG) and Deng Adel (11.9 PPG), while Quentin Snyder (12.7 PPG), Jaylen Johnson (8.1 PPG), and Mangok Mathiang (7.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG) provide scoring and strong leadership.

West Virginia Mountaineers; 26-8 record
No. 4 seed in West Regional; +3500

west-virginia-basketballThe Mountaineers aren’t getting much love at our sportsbook with +3500 odds of winning. And a big part of this is that they’ve lost eight games and didn’t win the Big-12. But they were competitive in all their losses, and have notable victories over Kansas and Baylor. We’re not saying that this makes West Virginia the favorite to cut down the nets in Phoenix this April. But if you’re looking for a team with moderate odds and a realistic chance of winning, then we like the Mountaineers. They’re set for a date with Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, provided both teams win their first two games.

Wichita State Shockers; 30-4 record
No. 10 seed in South Regional; +7500

The Shockers have advanced past the first round of the tournament in each of the past five seasons, including a Final Four trip in 2013, and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2015. Greg Marshall’s squad know how to win in March Madness, which is why we’re surprised that they’re only a No. 10 seed. Playing in the Missouri Valley Conference never helps their cause, but they competed against several teams from major conferences, including Louisville, who beat them 62-52. If Wichita State beats No. 7 Dayton in the first round – which we think they will – they’ll face No. 2 Kentucky in the second round. If they can win this game, then watch out for the Shockers!

Alabama vs. Clemson National Championship Betting

alabama-vs-clemson-championship-2017College football couldn’t have asked for a better matchup in the CFB National Championship game.

In a rematch of last year’s national championship, the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide (14-0) will take on the Clemson Tigers (13-1).

Last season’s game saw the Tide hold off Clemson 45-40, despite an outstanding performance from Tigers QB Deshaun Watson, who threw for 405 yards and rushed for another 73.

Watson is back again, but Alabama’s defense seems more dominant than last season. Which team will prevail? Let’s discuss both teams below and look at this game’s betting line. Line for Alabama vs. Clemson: Jan. 9 @ 20:00
Clemson  +6.5 (-110);  +205
Alabama  -6.5 (-110);  -240

Why Clemson Will Win

For a team that made the College Football Playoff, Clemson had a rocky season.

They started with a pair of 6-point wins against underdog Auburn and Troy teams; needed overtime to beat a mediocre NC State team; and lost to an 8-5 Pittsburgh squad in November.

But few are focusing on Clemson’s up-and-down play after a 31-0 dismantling of Ohio State in the semifinals. Suddenly, this resembles the same team that lost by just 5 points to Bama in the 2016 National Championship.

deshaun-watson-vs-alabamaWhat makes Clemson stand out is that, unlike the Tide, they’re strong on both sides of the ball. Their offense averaged 503 yards per game, with 328 through the air and 175 on the ground. Outside of a 19-13 win over Auburn in the first game, nobody has held the Tigers under 24 points in a game.

They also have the nation’s most-underrated defense, holding opponents to 17 points and 307 yards per game (ranked 7th and 8th nationally). The defense put on a show vs. the Buckeyes, holding them to just 215 total yards and forcing three turnovers.

Nobody is saying that Clemson’s defense is equal to Alabama’s talent. But it’s very good and capable of stopping Alabama’s offense.

Why Alabama Will Win

This looks like a classic case of offense vs. defense. The Tide rank No. 1 in both points allowed (11) and yardage allowed (244). Regarding the latter, Alabama only gives up 62 rushing yards a game, which isn’t Clemson’s strength to begin with.

If one team has a chance to dominate this contest, it’s definitely the Crimson Tide. Outside of a 48-43 victory over Ole Miss in their third game, Alabama has won by double digits in every game, while holding 12 of their 14 opponents to 16 points or less.

Many point to what Watson did to the Tide last year as evidence why Clemson will win. But this Alabama is better than last season’s version and will make life very difficult on the Tigers.

But the big question here is how their offense will perform. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin left last week to take the Florida Atlantic job, and former USC coach Steve Sarkisian was promoted to the OC position.

damien-harris-alabama“I wouldn’t have anybody in our organization that I didn’t have total faith, trust and confidence in that they would do a good job with our players,” Saban said.

Sarkisian is a very capable OC, but it’s still iffy replacing a coordinator one week out from the biggest game of the season.

Nevertheless, Alabama did score 39 points per game (14th nationally) with 247 yards on the ground (11th). They have a very balanced rushing attack that includes Damien Harris (1,016 rushing yards), Jalen Hurts (891), Bo Scarbrough (719), and Joshua Jacobs (548). If this crew can impose their will, then Clemson is in for a long game.

Final Prediction on Tigers vs. Tide

Regardless of how many opponents Alabama has dominated this season, all signs point to this being another close one. Before the semifinals, the Tide looked like a runaway favorite. Now, Clemson is playing their best football of the season.

jonathan-allen-crimson-tideOhio State was a quality opponent, but the Tigers made them look like an FCS school. This is the right time of the year to peak, and Clemson is on top of their game.

Alabama dominated the Washington Huskies 24-7, with defensive end Jonathan Allen saying afterward, “We could’ve played better.”

We have to agree and think that the Tide will perform better against Clemson. They should win this contest, but again, expect it to be close.

Final Score Prediction: Alabama wins 31-27, but Clemson covers the +6.5 spread.

Also note that we have the over/under at 50.5 (-110) on our GTBets line. Alabama’s defense is good, but we see the Tigers putting up enough points to see this contest reach 51 points or more.

2016 College Football Playoff Betting Guide

The four-team College Football Playoff field is set, and there are few surprises in the selections.

The Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0) grabbed the No. 1 overall seed after winning their 25th-straight game over Florida. The Tide completely dominated Florida in the SEC Championship by a score of 54-16, marking their 12th double-digit win of the season.

The only suspense after Alabama was where the rest of the field would finish out. Clemson (12-1) claimed the No. 2 seed, despite Ohio State being ranked second overall before championship week. The Buckeyes (11-1), who are seeded No. 3, were penalized for not making the Big Ten conference title game.

Washington (12-1) rounds out the field with the No. 4 seed. The Huskies had the weakest non-conference schedule of the CFP field, but they crushed Colorado 41-10 in the Pac-12 Championship to seal their spot.

Perhaps the most-deserving team missing out is the Penn State Nittany Lions, who won the Big Ten Championship with a 38-31 victory over Wisconsin. They’re also the only team to have defeated the Buckeyes this year.

We’ll discuss Penn State missing out later, but first, let’s analyze the two CFP matchups along with betting lines on the games.

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. No. 4 Washington (12-1) in Peach Bowl Line for Dec. 31 at 3:00pm EST:
Alabama -15.5 (-110)
Washington +15.5 (-110)

alabama-vs-floridaAfter winning the national title last year, Alabama has been No. 1 wire to wire this season. They opened with a 52-6 victory over USC (9-3) and have been rolling ever since.

The only chink in the armor was defensive struggles against Ole Miss (48-43) and Arkansas (49-30), but this can be forgiven considering that they didn’t lose the entire season. Furthermore, Alabama has only allowed 8.3 PPG over the past seven games.

Alabama’s real bread and butter, though, is their offense, which is averaging almost 40 points a game. This team is dominant on both sides of the ball, they’re talented, and they look like repeat champions.

It’s no secret that Washington is the big underdog here. They lost to the same USC team that Bama dominated, and their strength of schedule has been bashed all year long. It was so bad that we seriously wondered if two-loss Michigan might still gain the No. 4 spot.

But the doubts were erased with a 41-10 thumping of No. 8 Colorado (10-3). This has been a trend with the Huskies, as they blew out six of their first seven opponents.

What propels Washington is their defense, which has held opponents to 17.2 PPG. The defense has been enough to overcome inconsistent play by the offense. This was especially apparent in the 26-13 home loss to USC, where QB Jake Browning and the offense really struggled.

For this reason, we don’t see the Huskies giving Alabama much of a test.

Score Prediction: Alabama 38 – Washington 17

No. 2 Clemson (12-1) vs. No. 3 Ohio State (11-1) in Fiesta Bowl Line for Dec. 31 at 3:00pm EST:
Ohio State -3 (-110)
Clemson +3 (-110)

jt-barrett-playoffsOhio State set a precedent by becoming the first non-conference champion to play in the CFP since it started in 2014. The Buckeyes quickly generated a buzz by crushing their first five opponents by 42.5 PPG, a span that included Big 12 champ Oklahoma (10-2).

Other quality victories include a 30-23 win over Wisconsin and a 30-27 (OT) win against Michigan. The only blemish is a 24-21 loss to eventual Big Ten champ Penn State, in which the difference was a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown.

The Buckeyes are anchored by their defense, but their offense, led by J.T. Barrett, has played poorly at times. Clemson isn’t known for having an elite defensive unit, which will help Ohio State’s offense.

As for the Tigers, their beginning was the complete opposite. They got close wins against Auburn (19-13) and Troy (30-24) to start the season. Their offense finally got going after this, leading to a 42-36 win over then-No. 3 Louisville.

clemson-vs-virgnia-techClemson has lived on the edge with close victories against NC State and Florida State, followed by a demoralizing loss to Pitt (43-42). The Tigers rebounded from this to win their final three games, including a 42-35 win over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship.

We have no doubt that Clemson has the talent to beat Ohio State. But given their struggles against top competition, we have no idea which Tigers team will show up.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 33 – Clemson 24

The Biggest Snub: Penn State

Some might argue that Michigan getting left out is the biggest controversy, especially since they beat Penn State 49-10. But the Nittany Lions beat two teams (Iowa, Ohio State) that defeated Michigan, and they won the Big Ten title.

For this reason, they’re considered this year’s biggest CFP snub.

College Football Playoff committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said that it wasn’t an easy decision leaving Penn State out of the field. Here’s his explanation of the matter”

penn-state-ohio-state“We had spirited discussions in the committee selection room as well. Last night we met until approximately 1:30 a.m. this morning with that same [Penn State or Washington] conversation. It was detailed, it was difficult conversation and we looked at a lot of things. Obviously, we looked at two conference championship, Washington of the Pac-12, Penn State of the Big Ten. We looked at one-loss Washington, that loss being against a top-10 opponent compared to a two-loss Penn State team. One loss they were not competitive in that particular game, the other loss was to an 8-4 team

“We talked about strength of schedule. Obviously, strength of schedule favored Penn State. Had Washington had a stronger strength of schedule, I don’t think the conversation and discussion would have been as difficult. We looked at key statistical categories, which translate to performance on the field each and every week and the statistical categories that the selection committee sees value in that we discussed in detail last night and again this morning, Washington has the advantage. We talked to our coaches about what they saw in the performance of these two teams on the field not just in one particular game, but over the course of 13 games and Washington seemed to have the advantage there as well.

“So while it was challenging conversation, it was detailed conversation that went hours upon hours, coming out this morning, Washington deserves that No. 4 spot and the selection committee believes they’re a better football team when compared to Penn State.”

The final CFP field could’ve included a mashup of rankings beyond Alabama, or even included Penn State or Michigan over another team that got in. But the committee stuck by their rankings, which sets us up for some entertaining playoff action in late December and early January.

Washington Seals CFP Spot with 41-10 Win Over Colorado

washington-vs-colorado-1If there were any argument about the Washington Huskies deserving a spot in the College Football Playoff (CFP), it ended this week with a 41-10 victory over Colorado.

We recently discussed how Washington (12-1) — No. 4 in the CFP rankings — needed a win and conference title to impress the selection committee. They couldn’t have done it any better after dominating Colorado (10-3) in the Pac-12 title game.

The reason for all of the questions surrounding Washington is that their strength of schedule wasn’t as tough as other top-5 teams. Their best win was a 44-6 victory over 17th-ranked Stanford, while they suffered a late-season loss to 10th-ranked USC that hurt their chances.

Even selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said that the margin between the Huskies and No. 5 Michigan was “very, very small.” But with Washington now having one less loss than Michigan (10-2) and a conference championship, there’s no keeping them out. Meanwhile, the Wolverines didn’t qualify for the Big Ten championship game after a 30-27 overtime loss to Ohio State.

As for the game against Colorado, the Huskies’ offense didn’t look elite, but their defense proved why its one of the best in the country. They hounded the Buffs all night, forcing three interceptions and limiting them to just 163 yards.

Washington QB Jake Browning struggled most of the night, but the duel rushing attack of Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman is what put points on the board for this team.

Gaskin had 159 rushing yards on 29 carries, while Coleman tallied 101 yards on 18 attempts. Coleman also kicked off the scoring for Washington, getting a one-yard TD on the game’s first drive.

Colorado kept things close early without senior QB Sefo Liufau (ankle), and went into the locker room down only 14-7. Liufau made an inspired comeback attempt by playing in the third quarter. However, his first pass was an interception, which Washington’s Taylor Rapp returned for a 35-yard touchdown (see below).

Liufau remained in the game, but things didn’t get any better for him as he threw another interception on the ensuing Colorado possession. This gave Washington a short field, which they turned into another TD and a 24-7 lead.

The game officially became a blowout when receiver John Ross made a highlight-reel touchdown catch from 20 yards out.

As you can see in the video, Ross was being pressured and lofted a high pass to Ross, who made an amazing one-handed catch, then turned around for a wide-open path to the end zone. This made the score 31-7, and both teams tacked on a few points in garbage time.

The victory seals Washington’s first conference title since 2000, and their first 12-win season since they won the national title in 1991.

Although some will still argue that the Huskies aren’t a lock when the CFP committee doles out four spots, it’s hard to see them not getting in now. They won seven of their ten Pac-12 games by at least three scores, including the 38-point margin against a good Stanford team.

Who Will Washington Play?

Even with a statement victory over Colorado, it’s unlikely that Washington moves beyond its No. 4 slot in the CFP.

We have Alabama and Ohio State grabbing the No. 1 and 2 seeds, while Clemson currently holds the 3 seed. Clemson would have to lose to Virginia Tech in the ACC title game, or win in a sloppy affair, to help Washington move up.

If Clemson wins, odds are that the Huskies will face No. 1 Alabama (12-0) in the Peach Bowl. The good news is that Washington would at least have a chance to play for the national title. The bad news is that they’ll face a team that has won 11 of its 12 games by double digits.

Assuming the Tigers lose against Virginia Tech, the alternative would be Ohio State. The Buckeyes have a dominant defense, but their offense hasn’t always looked great. This is similar to Washington, which is also led by its defense.

The CFP Selection show is on Sunday, December 4, when the four CFP participants will be revealed.