Washington coach Chris Petersen says a win by his fourth-ranked Huskies over No. 9 Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game Friday will be enough to get the Huskies into the College Football Playoff.
But that certainly is not a guarantee.
The CFP committee might penalize the Huskies for having a weak non-conference schedule if the Huskies challenge for a playoff spot against Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State or Clemson.
According to Jeff Sagarin's power ratings in USA Today, Washington's strength of schedule (adversely affected by playing Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State in non-conference play) is at No. 60. Only Louisville at No. 66 rates lower among the top 20 teams.
A victory over Colorado will enhance Washington's strength-of-schedule rating, but will it be enough to overtake Wisconsin (No. 20 SOS rating) if the Badgers beat Penn State in the Big Ten title game?
When asked Monday about how confident he was that a win over Colorado merits a spot in the CFP, Petersen said he felt "pretty good ... pretty confident."
"I've always said that if we take care of business, everywhere I've been, those people usually do the right thing," Petersen said. "Our whole focus is on Colorado. We've got a big hurdle there, and if we can get over that hurdle, yeah."
With Ohio State likely making the four-team field, the winner of the Big Ten title game between Penn State and Wisconsin could potentially be left out.
The CFP committee possibly will look at the Ohio State-Michigan game, won by the Buckeyes last week, as the de facto Big Ten championship game. Ohio State has four wins over teams ranked in the top 14.
If Washington beats Colorado and Clemson defeats Virginia Tech in the ACC title game this weekend, chances are the four CFP teams will be Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Washington.
The Huskies will have a chance to make a statement against a top-10 team in Colorado, which won the Pac-12 South over a very hot USC team. Reports out of Seattle suggest that if Washington loses to Colorado, the Huskies will likely play in the Jan. 2 Cotton Bowl, probably against Western Michigan.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Jake Browning, a sophomore, enters the Pac-12 title game against Colorado ranked No. 3 in the nation in passing touchdowns (40), No. 4 in pass efficiency (181.6) and No. 9 in yards per completion (14.78). He is one of only three Pac-12 quarterbacks to ever to pass for 40 touchdowns in a season. In the showdown game with Washington State for the Pac-12 North title, he completed 21 of 29 passes for 292 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
--RB Myles Gaskin, also a sophomore, has reached at least 1,000 yards (currently with 1,180) for the second straight season and 19th time in Washington history. He had a subpar showing against Washington State with 16 carries for 50 yards and one touchdown.
--FS Budda Baker, a junior, led the Huskies with eight tackles -- including two for loss -- against the Cougars. He also had his second interception of the season with one against Washington State.
--WR John Ross, a senior, is No. 2 in the nation with 16 touchdown receptions, the second highest total in Washington history and third in Pac-12 history. He had eight catches for 80 yards and a touchdown against Washington State.
--LB D.J. Beavers, a redshirt freshman, is making the most of his opportunity after Azeem Victor and Joe Mathis went down with injuries that prevented them from playing in the last few games of the regular season. In last week's game against Washington State, Beavers tallied four tackles with a forced fumble, fumble recovery and interception.