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.