Washington’s early string of cupcake opponents — Rutgers, Idaho, Portland State — came back to penalize the Huskies when they were slotted at No. 5 in the first College Football Playoff Rankings released Tuesday. The top four teams in the determining poll as of Dec. 4 will advance to the national semifinals Dec. 31 with the winners meeting for the national championship Jan. 9.
The committee that issued the rankings (see below) takes into account strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and comparative outcomes by common opponents. Washington ranks 69th in the nation in strength of schedule thanks to an early-season slate featuring the above-mentioned pushovers, all of which the Huskies dominated (by a combined 148-30).
Although the Huskies are undefeated (8-0) and ranked at No. 4 in both The Associated Press and coaches polls, the committee moved 7-1 Texas A&M (No. 7 in both the AP and coaches polls) ahead of Washington into the No. 4 slot precisely because of strength of schedule.
The Aggies’ only loss was 33-14 to fellow Southeastern Conference foe and homestanding Alabama Oct. 22. The school’s first-year athletics director is Scott Woodward, who left Washington after seven seasons and created Washington’s football schedule. He was hired by school president Michael Young, who was UW’s president from 2011 to 2015.
“The committee, in our mind, believes Texas A&M has played a better schedule than Washington,” said Kirby Hocutt, chairman of the committee that issues the rankings. “We do a deep dive into these teams and look at everything, including wins against quality teams.”
Washington, 8-0 for the first time since 1992, has only one win against a ranked or quality team, a 31-24 victory over No. 17 (AP) Utah Saturday in Salt Lake City. No telling where the Huskies would be in the rankings released Tuesday without Dante Pettis’s punt return TD that sealed the win in the fourth quarter.
Alabama, No. 1 in both wire-service polls, is also ranked No. 1 by the selection committee, which elevated Clemson, No. 3 in both of those polls, to No. 2 in its rankings ahead of Michigan, which is No. 2 according to the AP and coaches.
Three other Pac-12 teams made the selection committee’s Top 25: No. 15 Colorado, No. 16 Utah and No. 25 Washington State. The Top 25:
1. Alabama (8-0); 2. Clemson (8-0); 3. Michigan (8-0); 4. Texas A&M (7-1); 5. Washington (8-0); 6. Ohio State (7-1); 7. Louisville (7-1); 8. Wisconsin (6-2); 9. Auburn (6-2); 10. Nebraska (7-1); 11. Florida (6-1); 12. Penn State (6-2); 13. LSU (5-2); 14. Oklahoma (6-2); 15. Colorado (6-2); 16. Utah (7-2); 17. Baylor (6-1); 18. Oklahoma State (6-2); 19. Virginia Tech (6-2); 20. West Virginia (6-1); 21. North Carolina (6-2); 22. Florida State (5-3); 23. Western Michigan (8-0); 24. Boise State (7-1); 25. Washington State (6-2).
The committee will reveal its rankings every week until Dec. 4 when it selects four teams on “Selection Sunday” that will play in the national semifinals, slated for Dec. 31 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (12 p.m., PT, ESPN) and the Fiesta Bowl (4 p.m., PT, ESPN). At that time, the selection committee will also announce its New Year’s bowl pairings.
The national championship is Jan. 9 in Tampa.
The Huskies (8-0, 5-0) will travel to Berkeley Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. contest (ESPN) against the California Golden Bears (4-4, 2-3). Last year, the Bears upset the Huskies 30-24 in Seattle.
FBS PLAYOFF SELECTION COMMITTEE
The selection committee consists of 12 individuals and includes former University of Washington coach Tyrone Willingham (2005-08), whose last Huskies team (2008) went 0-12. The committee will issue six weekly Top-25 rankings, the last Dec. 4. The committee:
KIRBY HOCUTT, CHAIRMAN
- Director of Athletics, Texas Tech University
- Experience as athletics director at three FBS institutions
- Director of Athletics, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Member, College Football Hall of Fame.
- Winningest head coach in Wisconsin history.
- 38 years college football experience as head coach, assistant coach and athlete in 22 bowl games in four FBS conferences.
- Former head coach, University of Southern Mississippi.
- Spent 29 years at the University of Southern Mississippi as an athlete, assistant coach and head coach.
- Named “Coach of the Decade” by Conference USA in 2004.
- Former head coach, University of Central Michigan.
- Member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
- Spent a combined 38 years at CMU and retired as the winningest coach in Mid-American Conference history.
- Former NCAA executive vice-president.
- Served as senior-level executive, including executive vice president, deputy executive director and chief operating officer, throughout 38-year NCAA career (1972-2010).
- Supervised NCAA Division I, II and III football, including NCAA Football Board of Directors, College Football Officiating LLC and Football Issues Committee.
- Recruited by legendary football coach Len Casanova; four-year athletic scholarship, University of Oregon (1963-1967).
- Former head coach, Vanderbilt University.
- 39 years college football experience as player and coach.
- Three-year college football letterman, academic all-conference selection.
- Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.
- 35 years college football experience as assistant coach, athlete and administrator. Athletics administration, coaching or staff positions at nine FBS institutions in seven FBS conferences.
- Experience at FBS, FCS and Division II levels.
- Director of Athletics, University of Oregon.
- Presided over one of the most successful eras in the University of Oregon’s history.
- Member of the Positive Coaching Alliance’s National Advisory Board.
- Guided Oregon to its best finish ever in the Directors Cup, a national assessment of an athletic department’s overall achievements.
- Director of Athletics, Clemson University.
- 30 years college football experience as student-athlete, athletics director and associate athletics director.
- Athletic administrative positions at five FBS institutions.
- One of 10 athletic directors serving on 2013 NCAA advisory commission to make recommendations on future rules and policies.
- Stanford University economics professor.
- Former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor.
- Former Stanford University provost.
- Chosen four times as one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.”
- Twice named “Most Powerful Woman in the World” by Forbes Magazine.
- Best-selling author.
- Former college football reporter, USA Today.
- Top college football writer for USA Today and a sportswriter for more than 30 years.
- One of the “10 Most Powerful People in College Sports” as named by Chronicle of Higher Education (2007).
- One of the “50 Most Influential People in College Sports” as selected by College Sports magazine (1995, 1996).
- Former head coach at three FBS Institutions — Stanford, Notre Dame, Washington.
- Sporting News Sportsman of the Year in 2002.
- Named 2002 Coach of the Year by ESPN/Home Depot.
- Coached at seven FBS programs.
- 36 years college football experience as head coach, assistant coach and two-sport athlete.