It took 13 weeks, however we lastly have readability on probably the most important results of the Pac-12 football season — a consequence that made little sense on the time and makes zero sense now, that made an infinite affect on the workforce concerned and the convention at massive.
It wasn’t Oregon’s blowout loss to Georgia on the primary Saturday of September or USC’s one-point loss at Utah in the midst of October or the pulsating duel between the Los Angeles rivals prior to Thanksgiving.
Nope, probably the most important recreation of the season unfolded in relative obscurity on the afternoon of Oct. 8 within the desert: Arizona State 45, Washington 38.
The Huskies (10-2) entered the sport as a two-touchdown favourite towards an opponent that had simply fired its coach and misplaced 4 in a row. But they couldn’t cease ASU backup quarterback Trenton Bourguet in a back-and-forth affair.
Washington hasn’t misplaced since, whereas Sun Devils haven’t gained since — except a victory over lowly Colorado.
Had the Huskies survived within the desert then, every little thing could be completely different now.
Washington could be 11-1, tucked comfortably within the high 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings and headed into the Pac-12 championship recreation towards USC in a duel of one-loss groups.
The winner could be completely positioned for a playoff berth as a 12-1 Power Five champion.
Yes, we’re assured Washington would have the resume obligatory. Why? Because it might be comparable to what USC has now, and the Trojans are thought of a playoff lock in the event that they win this week.
USC’s solely loss got here on the highway to a ranked opponent (Utah).
The Huskies’ solely loss would have come on the highway to a ranked opponent (UCLA).
USC has three wins over ranked opponents (Oregon State, UCLA and Notre Dame).
The Huskies would have two wins over ranked opponents (Oregon and Oregon State), with a third this weekend if they’d overwhelmed USC.
In that situation, who could be extra deserving?
Not the ACC champion, which might have a number of losses.
Probably not Ohio State, which didn’t win its division and was overwhelmed soundly within the recreation that mattered most.
And maybe not Alabama or Tennessee, which might have two losses and runner-up finishes.
Could we assure that Washington would make the playoff at 12-1? Nope, however the Huskies would have a nice likelihood — if they’d overwhelmed Arizona State on a heat October afternoon in what appeared, on the time, like an innocuous affair.
Instead, Washington left Sun Devil Stadium with its second and last loss — the primary got here at UCLA one week earlier — and is sitting house this week whereas the Trojans face Utah (9-3), which has no likelihood to make the playoff.
That’s why UW’s loss in Tempe stands as probably the most important: The convention’s different ranked groups (apart from USC) all have three losses. Change one final result for any of them, and they’d be 10-2 this week — the playoff could be out of attain even with a victory over the Trojans.
Only Washington is one recreation away from an alternate actuality for itself and the Pac-12.
The Huskies’ different loss, at UCLA, made sense then and now. There isn’t any lingering what-if part.
Nobody knew it on the time, however the seven-point loss as a 14-point favourite on a heat Saturday within the desert modified every little thing.
That doesn’t diminish what the Huskies have completed — they may very properly find yourself within the Rose Bowl — or the outlook for this system underneath Kalen DeBoer.
But it’s an attention-grabbing hypothetical to think about whereas awaiting bowl choices on Sunday morning. And there are others, as we’ll discover later within the week.
Our newest projections …
College Football Playoff (Peach or Fiesta bowls)
Date: Dec. 31
Comment: Only one Power Five champion with a 12-1 document has not been invited to the playoff: Ohio State in 2018, and the Buckeyes had a blowout loss to an unranked workforce (Purdue) that yr. These Trojans are in a lot better form. Win this week, they usually’re in.
Rose Bowl (vs. Big Ten)
Date: Jan. 2
Comment: Bowl officers will take a number of components into consideration when choosing the Pac-12’s alternative for USC however finally need the very best matchup. Two-loss Washington is extra engaging than four-loss Utah, particularly with Ohio State on the opposite sideline. Granddaddy doesn’t like rematches.
Alamo Bowl (vs. Big 12)
Date: Dec. 29
Comment: At this level within the choice course of, issues get attention-grabbing. The Alamo may choose Utah however wouldn’t be obligated. (The Utes participated three years in the past.) Our hunch is bowl officers go for UCLA, which is a higher TV draw and wouldn’t be coming off a loss.
Holiday Bowl (vs. ACC)
Date: Dec. 28
Comment: If the Utes aren’t headed to Pasadena or San Antonio, we suspect the Holiday could be keenly given the choices. Oregon may very well be obtainable, however what number of Ducks followers would make the journey after the disappointing end?
Las Vegas Bowl (vs. SEC)
Comment: To be clear: This spot may go to Oregon State — we suspect bowl officers will significantly think about the Beavers, who beat Oregon head-to-head and certain would convey extra followers. But the TV part performs a function, as properly.
Sun Bowl (vs. ACC)
Date: Dec. 30
Team: Oregon State
Comment: A slew of prospects exist for OSU, which completed 9-3 and could have a CFP rating subsequent to its identify. In order of seemingly locations, we give the Sun a slight edge over Las Vegas, with the Holiday working third.
LA Bowl (vs. Mountain West)
Date: Dec. 17
Team: Washington State
Comment: The Cougars are locked into the LA Bowl due to stipulations within the choice course of concerning convention document. They completed multiple recreation behind the opposite bowl-eligible groups and can’t be chosen forward of them.