With one game to play for most of the contending teams, Washington put itself in strong position to be among the final four when it really matters.
Washington took Michigan’s place in the College Football Playoff committee’s top four, coming in at No. 4 behind Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson on Tuesday night. The Wolverines dropped to No. 5, creating an interesting dynamic in the Big Ten.
Despite neither advancing to the Big Ten championship game, the Buckeyes and Wolverines are the conference’s top two representatives in the penultimate poll. Wisconsin and Penn State will play for the league’s title, yet both are on the outside looking in from a national perspective. The Badgers (10-2) and Nittany Lions (10-2) rank sixth and seventh in the latest poll, pointing to a scenario where the winner still might not earn a berth in the playoff despite earning the extra game from the conference.
Ohio State being stationed at No. 2 with no more games to play seems to give the Buckeyes firm standing in the CFP hierarchy — one that closes out the top 10 with former Big Eight bastions Colorado, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The latter two are still set to face off Saturday in their Bedlam game.
Alabama, Clemson and Washington will play for their respective league’s titles — against Florida, Virginia Tech and Colorado, respectively — with the Tigers and Huskies’ spots not guaranteed. However, the CFP could certainly bring controversy upon itself in year three by selecting Ohio State over the Big Ten champion.
No other conference has a realistic chance of putting multiple teams in the top four, with the Washington-Colorado loser almost certainly relegated to a major (yet ultimately inconsequential) bowl game. The Huskies and Buffalo did not play in the regular season.