STANFORD, Calif. — It was already unlikely when the night began, but Friday night’s 30-22 loss to Stanford just about sealed it: Washington — and the Pac-12, by extension — won’t be making a return trip to the College Football Playoff.
The ninth-ranked Huskies were the Pac-12’s last one-loss team, and the number of unlikely results it would take to propel one of the two-loss outfits (No. 11 USC and No. 19 Washington State are the others) to a top-four ranking isn’t worth considering.
Not only are the Huskies out of the playoff chase, their Pac-12 title hopes took a huge hit as well. At 5-2 in the conference, Washington needs to beat Utah and Washington State and see Stanford lose to California next week to win the Pac-12 North.
Coming into the game, ESPN’s Football Power Index estimated a Stanford victory would give the Cardinal an 82 percent chance at winning the division, but Stanford (7-3, 6-2 Pac-12) also needs help. It would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker against Washington State, which plays at Utah on Saturday before the Apple Cup in Seattle on Nov. 25.
Not only did the Cardinal keep their conference-title hopes alive, running back Bryce Love remains very much a part of the Heisman Trophy discussion after running for 166 yards on 30 carries against a defense that ranked No. 1 in the nation in yards allowed (240.9) per game coming in. Prior to Friday, the Huskies had allowed just three rushing touchdowns all season; Love had three by himself.
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield remains the clear favorite, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Love doesn’t earn an invitation to the Heisman ceremony. For the Pac-12, that would be the highlight of the season.