The conference placed five teams in the second CFP rankings of the season
Washington and Oregon remained at the top of the second College Football Playoff rankings, with five Pac-12 teams making the cut — none from Los Angeles.
For the second week in a row, the Huskies were ranked fifth, followed by the Ducks in sixth place. Oregon State climbed four spots to No. 12, while Utah remained at No. 18.
Meanwhile, Arizona made its first appearance in the CFP rankings since 2017, landing in the No. 21 spot after beating UCLA for its third consecutive win.
“The three straight wins, two of their losses coming in overtime, a seven-point loss to Washington and the job that Coach (Jedd) Fisch has done out there is really something,” selection committee chair Boo Corrigan, the N.C. State athletic director, said on a media teleconference.
USC and UCLA dropped out of the rankings following losses to Washington and Arizona, respectively.
Washington was the lowest-ranked of the major conference’s five undefeated teams, trailing Ohio State, Georgia, Michigan, and Florida State, while Oregon was the highest-ranked of the one-loss teams.
Corrigan avoided specifics when asked why the Ducks were ranked higher than Texas and Alabama.
“It’s not one single metric, but we spent a lot of time on it, and we want to make sure we get it right,” he told reporters. “It’s not as if we do it once and then move on.” We’ll do it once and then come back to it again and again until everyone is satisfied with where we are.”
The current state of affairs at the top highlighted a growing reality for the Pac-12’s top-10 teams: bitter rivals are also best friends. Each team relies on the other to continue winning.
With threats circling, the conference requires the best possible matchup in its championship game to position the winner for a playoff berth.
That matchup would pit 12-0 Washington against 11-1 Oregon, a matchup that would only happen if both teams won their final three regular-season games.
Utah, Oregon State, and Washington State are among the opponents for the Huskies.
The Ducks have games against USC, Arizona State, and Oregon State.
If both teams sweep their respective stretch runs, the championship game winner’s resume will be playoff-worthy: Washington as an undefeated Power Five champion, Oregon as a one-loss Power Five champion.
However, if either team loses before the title game, the odds of the Pac-12 champion qualifying for the CFP plummet dramatically. Why? Because the number of potential threats is increasing.
Unless the Huskies finish 13-0, in which case they are a lock for the playoffs, the Pac-12 champion must be concerned about:
— Texas, Big 12 champion with one loss.
— Alabama as SEC champion with a single loss.
— Florida State, the ACC champion with a single loss.
— And possibly the one-loss loser of Michigan-Ohio State.
There’s another factor to consider for the Huskies and Ducks: they need the conference’s top teams to keep winning so the Pac-12 is well represented in the committee’s final rankings.
This could be a problem because No. 12 Oregon State will play both Washington and Oregon, while No. 18 Utah will travel to Washington. The possibility of an eat-your-own finish to the season may devalue the Pac-12 champion’s resume.
One last point: The Ducks need Texas Tech to finish strong.
Oregon won the Week 2 matchup in Lubbock, but the result doesn’t mean much because the Red Raiders are 4-5 with no quality wins.
Late-season victories over Kansas or Texas, on the other hand, would boost their resume and, in turn, raise Oregon’s profile.
With so many moving parts and possible outcomes, every data point is important.