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There's Still A Shot

 I’m here to tell you that Washington isn’t done yet. Nor, for that matter, is Washington State. It’s no lock for either, even if they win out (which obviously would entail knocking their rival out of contention in the Apple Cup). There would have to be a confluence of events occurring that make it possible, and that makes this whole scenario a decided longshot.


But longshot is a far cry from no shot.

We all know what the Huskies and Cougars have working against them. The Pac-12’s reputation was already flagging even before USC was throttled last weekend by Notre Dame — a major blow to the conference’s playoff aspirations. We don’t have to rehash Washington’s weak nonconference schedule, though it’s actually starting to look slightly better than it once did. Rutgers is 2-2 in the Big Ten, and Fresno State is 5-2 with a victory over the same San Diego State team that damaged the Pac-12’s reputation by beating both Stanford and Arizona State. Washington State’s best nonconference win was over Boise State, which is also 5-2 with a win over San Diego State.

If you want to talk cupcakes, check out, say, undefeated Wisconsin, which hasn’t yet played a team with a winning record. And the Pac-12 needs to hammer home the point, yet again, that their ninth league game is like the equivalent of a tough nonconference foe, considering the extreme balance in the middle of the conference.

Working against Washington is also the fact that the Huskies made it somewhat controversially into the playoffs last year and then lost 24-7 to Alabama — though not as bad a defeat, in retrospect, as Ohio State suffered to Clemson in the other semifinal (31-0). SEC-centric radio host Paul Finebaum, in an admittedly theatrical fashion, was probably speaking for many when he said recently of Washington, “Get them out of my sight. Last year they wiggled their way into the playoff with an embarrassing nonconference schedule, and they’re not going to do it this time.” SeattleTimes


But the Huskies and Cougars don’t have to win over Finebaum. They have to win over the 13-member CFP selection committee, which releases its first playoff rankings Tuesday.