While it may feel “too early”, the national rankings are beginning to matter for teams hoping for an NCAA playoff bid. When Penn State faces Ohio State this weekend, Washington Football fans would be wise to cheer PSU
The Washington Football team is 6-1, the same record as the Ohio State Football team. This weekend, Ohio State faces 7-0 Penn State. But who should Washington Football fans root for? While you may be tempted to say “Ohio State”, think again.
With four spots for the NCAA playoffs, and Alabama a sure pick for one spot, there are three remaining places. Should Penn State fall from the unbeaten ranks, Ohio State would simply lay claim to that playoff spot.
Buckeyes or Nittany Lions?
An Ohio State victory helps Ohio State, but does nothing to benefit Washington. At least not in the grand scheme of NCAA rankings. In the end, there will never be a tie of Washington and Ohio State with the east coast bias. Records? Yes. Production? Yes again. But the views of decision makers, many of whom sit east of the Mississippi River, will never witness enough Pac-12 football to judge objectively.
And when they do see Pac-12 teams, like the USC versus Notre Dame blowout, it merely reinforces the bias.
So a Penn State loss elevates Ohio State. A loss to Ohio State plunges OSU to the two-loss tier in the rankings, and behind Washington.
Washington has plenty of work left to do
Now, there is still the order of business for Washington to win their games outright for the rest of the season. And so far, that appears to be plenty on the plate of Huskies fans. UCLA is a formidable team, and the Washington offense is not exactly getting top marks this season.
That defense is stellar. But the offense remains an enigma. We think switching to a trio of tight ends would be a step in the right direction for the team. But however the team sets the offense, they need to win the battle at time of possession. The Washington defense is good, but through injuries, the ranks are slowly depleting. Already down two of the team’s top cornerback, the team must now face top passer in the Pac-12, UCLA’s Josh Rosen. The team must ground that aerial assault for the entire game. The best way to do that is to control the ball for most of that game.
But while we wait for our game, how do you root for the best conditions for your team to get that playoff invite? Well, in the case of PSU vs. OSU, there is a distinct advantage to cheering for PSU.
At least for this one game.