CFP selection committee explains why Utah jumped Washington in latest ranking
Washington is 10-2. Utah is 9-3. When both sides had one fewer win last Tuesday, the Huskies were ranked No. 13 while the Utes were ranked No. 14 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
When the new set of rankings — the penultimate reveal ahead of next Sunday’s official CFP selection — dropped on Tuesday night, the selection committee moved Utah up three spots for its 63-21 win over 1-11 Colorado.
It moved Washington —which beat Washington State on the road 51-33 to claim the Apple Cup — up just one spot.
Now, instead of Washington sitting ahead of Utah, it’s the other way around.
On a conference call with reporters, CFP selection committee chair Boo Corrigan had a flimsy argument for why.
“As we looked at it, Utah’s win over Southern Cal — as Southern Cal continues to move up — as well as the win over Oregon State, a couple of their losses to UCLA and Oregon. I think the other side of it is the Washington loss at Arizona State was surprising to everyone in the room,” Corrigan said. “But when you’re looking at the entire body of work, you’ve got to take everything into account.
“As we talked about it and talked over those Pac-12 teams in that area, it was a topic of conversation, and that Arizona State loss really stood out.”
Just not last week, when that ASU loss was still on the résumé and Washington was ranked ahead of Utah.
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Josh Newman circled back later in the conference call and specifically asked about whether the committee took into account Washington beat Oregon in Eugene and Utah lost to Oregon in Eugene.
Corrigan went back to the ASU loss.
“It’s part of what we talk about,” he said. “Again, from a Washington standpoint, they’ve got a win over Oregon and a win over Oregon State, but when you take in the full body of work as we were looking at it, two really good teams, both of whom had really good wins, and you’re looking for a differentiator as we go through this, and as we did, that Arizona State game really stood out as kind of one that didn’t measure up, if you will, to the other games.”
There’s reason for concern here if you’re a Husky fan.
The Rose Bowl has said in the past that if one of its partner conferences sends a team to the College Football Playoff in a year it doesn’t host a semifinal game, it would take that league’s next-highest-ranked team from the CFP rankings.
If Utah beats USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday (5 p.m. PT, FOX), none of this matters. But if the Utes were to fall in the rematch, Washington could be in line to make the Rose Bowl.
The Rose Bowl gets to pick. It is not obligated to abide by the CFP committee’s rankings, but that’s how it has settled similar situations in the past — i.e. taking USC in 2016 when the Huskies went to the Playoff.
But if the Utes came up on the wrong side of another back-and-forth, down-to-the-wire game, could the midseason loss to Arizona State keep Washington out of the Rose Bowl? After Tuesday night, it seems a question worth asking.
“I guess I’m looking at it this way, we did Utah a favor already, right?” Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer said this week, referencing UW’s win over Wazzu as the vehicle that sent Utah to the title game. “Selfish-wise, I certainly think there is a team we’re rooting for.”