The Washington Huskies are No. 4 in both the AP and coaches polls, but, due to an early easy schedule, are No. 5 in the first College Football Playoff rankings.
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.
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: