The Huskies captured their first Pac-12 title since 2000 when they defeated Colorado, 41-10, in Friday’s Pac-12 Football Championship Game to help propel them into the top four. Washington will be making its seventh consecutive bowl appearance, and 37th overall.
On Saturday, December 31, 2016, No. 4 Washington will face No. 1 Alabama in the Peach Bowl at 3 p.m. ET. The Fiesta Bowl will follow at 7 p.m. ET as No. 3 Ohio State plays No. 2 Clemson.
The winner of the Peach Bowl will face the winner of the Fiesta Bowl in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. The national championship game will take place on Monday, January 9, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The CFP results show that Washington's schedule, whether by coincidence or design, was the correct approach for other Pac-12 schools to emulate in the new, unstandardized world of the four-team playoff system.
The four-team CFP has been a huge upgrade over the disastrous BCS, but it is now apparent that after just a couple of seasons this system is massively flawed as well. Flawed to the point that the CFP should expand to eight teams, or alternatively, should scrap the system entirely in favor of the old pre-BCS, two-poll champions arrangement.
The main problem starts with simple math -- four spots for five power conferences.
The second problem with the system is that the criteria for selecting those four spots is not clearly articulated.
Without such criteria, many of the committee's decisions are questionable. After all, this is the same group of 12 who in their eternal wisdom, evaluated, pondered, and then voted Texas A and M in over the Huskies in their initial 2016 rankings (Washington was coming off a road win over Utah). That call by the committee turned out to be as ludicrous now as it was back then, as the Aggies have since plummeted to an 8-4 record.
The final major problem stems from a pure lack of foresight at the time that this new system was created, as there is no uniformity among the Power 5 conferences in how they schedule games. This last problem impacts the Pac-12, and to a lesser extent the Big 12, quite negatively.
Despite having arguably the most depth of any conference, the Pac-12 is at a distinct disadvantage relative to the other leagues. The primary reason for this is an overly ambitious nine-game conference schedule dreamed up by the league's powers that be, which produces one key effect every season -- additional losses for Pac-12 schools.
Throw in the typical tough non-conference schedule that many Pac-12 teams elect to play, as well as the lack of committee eyeballs due to East Coast Bias, and it's a recipe for CFP elimination.
In contrast, the other leagues have been wiser from the start in gearing up for a CFP spot. The SEC, for example, only schedules eight league games. After all, why increase the risk of one of your top teams losing, and thus, not qualifying for the playoff?
The Big 12, after not having a conference championship game to boost their stock, saw the light and decided to implement one next year in 2017.
This all leads to a basic problem, as there is no standardized schedule requirement across the conferences. As such, the playing field is inherently uneven.
Well, Washington's schedule this year may provide an unfortunate answer for the Pac-12 on how to get into the playoff.
Washington played a cakewalk non-conference schedule and went into league play undefeated. As expected, it got tripped up along the way by USC (it's bound to happen in a nine-game slate), but survived because there was no added non-conference loss to kick the Huskies out.
Until the Pac-12 wakes up and brings their schedule down to eight conference games, this may be the sole solution to getting a team in the playoff, other than running the table. And that is unfortunate for fans because the non-conference games against fellow power schools are typically exciting.
The College Football Playoff also announced the New Year’s Six bowl match-ups:
Orange Bowl (Dec. 30) – No. 11 Florida State vs. No. 6 Michigan
Cotton Bowl Classic (Jan. 2) – No. 15 Western Michigan vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
Rose Bowl (Jan. 2) – No. 9 Southern California vs. No. 5 Penn State
Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2) – No. 14 Auburn vs. No. 7 Oklahoma
USC (9-3) will be making their 34th trip to the Rose Bowl, and their first since 2009 when they also played Penn State.
Other bowl games involving Pac-12 teams include:
No. 10 Colorado (10-3), the Pac-12 South Division champion, will meet No. 12 Oklahoma State (9-3) in the Alamo Bowl on Thurs., Dec. 29. The Buffaloes will be making their 29th postseason appearance, their first as a member of the Pac-12, and their first bowl appearance overall since 2007.
Washington State (8-4) has been selected to play in the National Funding Holiday Bowl and will meet the Big Ten’s Minnesota (8-4) on Tues., Dec. 27. The Cougars are making their 13th bowl appearance overall and back-to-back postseason games since 2001-03 when they capped a stretch of three straight bowl games with a victory over Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl.
No. 18 Stanford (9-3) will meet the ACC’s North Carolina (8-4) in the Sun Bowl on Fri., Dec. 30. It’s Stanford’s 27th postseason appearance and fourth trip to El Paso, Texas for the Sun Bowl.
No. 19 Utah (8-4) will play in the Foster Farms Bowl opposite the Big Ten’s Indiana (6-6) on Wed., Dec. 28. It’s the second appearance for the Utes in the San Francisco Bay Area bowl game, having appeared in the 2005 Emerald Bowl.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to invite a ranked team like Utah and a team on the rise like Indiana to square off in the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl,” said Jamie Brandt, Foster Farms Bowl Executive Director. “This game holds a proud position within the Bay Area holiday calendar and we look forward to welcoming the fans of the Utes and Hoosiers later this month.”
The Pac-12, which had three teams ranked in the final CFP Top 10, did not have enough teams eligible to fill its two remaining contracted bowls (Vegas, Cactus). Those bowls are free to choose a bowl-eligible replacement team from another conference or group of independent teams.
Below are this season's final rankings:
1 Alabama 13-0
2 Clemson 12-1
3 Ohio State 11-1
4 Washington 12-1
5 Penn State 11-2
6 Michigan 10-2
7 Oklahoma 10-2
8 Wisconsin 10-3
9 Southern California 9-3
10 Colorado 10-3
11 Florida State 9-3
12 Oklahoma State 9-3
13 Louisville 9-3
14 Auburn 8-4
15 Western Michigan 13-0
16 West Virginia 10-2
17 Florida 8-4
18 Stanford 9-3
19 Utah 8-4
20 Louisiana State 7-4
21 Tennessee 8-4
22 Virginia Tech 9-4
23 Pittsburgh 8-4
24 Temple 10-3
25 Navy 9-3
As a basis of comparison, here are the Top 16 rankings according to the Football Writers Association of America:
1. Alabama (13-0) 720
2. Clemson (12-1) 639
3. Ohio State (11-1) 636
4. Washington (12-1) 590
5. Penn State (11-2) 528
6. Michigan (10-2) 515
7. Oklahoma (10-2) 450
8. USC (9-3) 373
9. Wisconsin (10-3) 366
10. Florida State (9-3) 267
11. Colorado (10-3) 237
12. Western Michigan (13-0) 186
13. Oklahoma State (9-3) 170
14. West Virginia (10-2) 161
15. Louisville (9-3) 103
16. Auburn (8-4) 69
￼￼￼￼￼OTHERS RECEIVING FWAA VOTES: Stanford (28), Temple (18), Virginia Tech (17), Florida (13), LSU (13), Navy (7), Nebraska (4), South Florida (4), San Diego State (3), Tennessee (2), Utah (1).
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services