And yet, for some reason, all anyone is telling me to do is relax. All Washington has to do is keep winning. Everything will be fine.
What world do you live in? I’d like to go to there, because I’ve been living in the stupid ol’ real world, and in the REAL world, teams like Washington get fucked over on the reg.
Alabama, Clemson, and Michigan are all right where you’d expect them to be, in the top three spots. Yet, Texas A&M – ranked 7th in both the AP and Coaches Polls – has leapfrogged Washington to be ranked 4th in the College Football Playoff Rankings (aka: the only rankings that actually matter).
And it’s all a matter of strength of schedule. Texas A&M is in the SEC (with Alabama). The SEC is perennially overrated by the college football powers that be, in spite of the fact that they only play 8 games in conference play, and in spite of the fact that over half of their conference – every year – is total and complete trash.
I mean, seriously, when was the last time anyone talked about Vanderbilt, or Missouri, or Kentucky as a football power school? But, no, The SEC: it’s practically like playing in the NFL! Right. I can’t wait for when the SEC loses over half of their bowl games once again, like they do every year; it’s the only time people get to see this overrated conference for what it is.
ANYWAY, A&M lost to Bama (the #1 team in the nation), so that bumps up their strength of schedule in a big way. They also beat a Top 10 Tennessee team (not ranked anymore), a Top 20 Arkansas team (also not ranked anymore), and a Top 20 UCLA team (one of the very worst teams in the Pac-12). In essence, A&M gets rewarded for these wins over ranked opponents WHO THEMSELVES WERE OVERRATED! As far as I can tell, they have 1 quality win, and that’s against Auburn (unranked at the time, now ranked 9th in the playoff rankings). A&M’s remaining schedule involves Mississippi State (awful), Ole Miss (also awful), the Texas San Antonio Roadrunners (the Portland State of the south), and LSU (currently ranked 13th, but also dealing with the stigma of firing their head coach). The only thing holding A&M back is the fact that they’re locked out of the SEC title game because they’re in the same division as Bama, but I don’t think that’s really a huge loss.
A&M is virtually guaranteed to run the table, with another highly-ranked opponent on the horizon (unless LSU loses a few more times between now and then, which is very possible in the overrated SEC). That’ll put them at 11-1. Alabama goes to LSU and hosts Auburn (as well as plays two garbage teams). You like Bama’s chances to run the table just because they’re Bama and they’re great. They’ll get a crack at a ranked Florida team for good measure in the SEC title game; you gotta figure if Florida runs the table (with LSU and Florida State on the menu), and somehow takes out Bama in the SEC title game, there’s yet ANOTHER landmine in Washington’s way. I mean, you can’t rightly keep out a 1-loss Florida team who won their conference, can you? By the same token, can you keep out a 1-loss Alabama team whose only loss was to that very same great Florida team? And, as we all know, A&M is highly thought of with their 1-loss record …
Want to look at Clemson? They have a creampuff remaining schedule. The best team they’ll play the rest of the way is either North Carolina or Virginia Tech (each with 1 loss, but I wouldn’t count on that remaining). They’re almost a lock to finish the regular season 13-0. That just leaves Michigan, who has two impressive wins over Colorado and Wisconsin. Their next three games are against garbage opponents, followed by the season finale at Ohio State. That game will most likely decide who plays in the Big 10 championship game, so you know the winner there will crack the Top 4. Our best hope to ice out a Big 10 school is for Ohio State to beat Michigan, then lose to some 2-loss team from the Big 10 West division. At that point, MAYBE a slot will open up for Washington.
The people in the R-E-L-A-X camp have one thing right, though. Washington has to keep winning. One slip-up, and our dreams of playoff glory are over. There is an absolute zero chance of a 1-loss Washington team making the College Football Playoffs, so at least that issue is put to bed.
There’s also the underrated factor someone brought up on Twitter: the Nobody Respects Us factor. If the Huskies use this as fuel to smash our remaining opponents, all the better. Our next two games (at least) will be played to a national audience on ESPN and FOX. We get a ranked Wazzu team in the Apple Cup (unless they Coug it along the way), with a 12:30pm window the day after Thanksgiving. And, we’ll get either Colorado or Utah in the Pac-12 championship game (both ranked in the Top 20). All hope isn’t TOTALLY lost, but make no mistake, everything we’ve been worrying about with this East Coast Bias thing is coming true before our very eyes. I’m not confident in the slightest that a 13-0 Husky team will make the Top 4. If you are, that’s good for you, you’re very secure and confident. You should be proud of yourself.
As for me, I can’t help but harken back to the 2011/2012 Husky basketball team. Remember that? That’s a team that went 14-4 in conference play, won the Pac-12 regular season title, but because they lost in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, and because it was a down year in the conference (sound familiar?), and because we didn’t have any significant wins over major non-conference opponents, we were kept out of the NCAA Tournament. I’m not saying this is an apples-to-apples comparison; obviously if you’re talking about an undefeated Husky football team, it’s not the same as an 11-loss Husky basketball team. But, that was the very first time a major conference regular season champion had ever not been allowed into the NCAA Tourney in its history. It was a BIG deal at the time, and a lot of people were up in arms about it.
Where are the similarities with this Husky football team (assuming it goes undefeated)? Again, you’ve got the down conference, with all the major players (Oregon, Stanford, USC, UCLA) having mediocre-to-bad years. You’ve got a complete lack of a major non-conference win (the best team we played in non-conference might have been Rutgers, who is currently 2-6 and winless in the Big 10). And, you’ve got the unfortunate circumstance of a lot of other teams potentially having great records, with superior strength of schedules.
Think about it, it could come down to a 1-loss Florida SEC champ, a 1-loss Alabama team, a 1-loss A&M team, a 1-loss Ohio State team, a 1-loss Michigan team, and a no-loss Clemson team. There are SIX potential playoff teams, and you’re telling me only half of them will make the playoffs, with the Huskies as that fourth team?
Look, I’m not saying this is what I want to happen; I hope I’m totally wrong! But, to have this crazy confidence that all the Huskies have to do is win out – when our best win is likely to be last week’s road win over the Utes, decided on a punt return for a touchdown, with up to three uncalled blocks in the back – I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it because I have zero faith in the system. I have zero faith in the judgment of human beings.
Especially when, not for nothing, but one of the committee members has an axe to grind with the University of Washington. I mean, seriously, what is Tyrone Willingham doing on this committee? You should have to automatically recuse yourself if you have ever had a professional tie to any of the schools in contention. Un-fucking-believable.