Recipe for WSU football playoff berth

Cougars have a shot at making it to Miami to play in Orange Bowl



Freshman running back Max Borghi attempts to break through Oregon defense in order to gain yards during the game against Oregon Saturday at Martin Stadium.

JOHN SPELLMAN, Evergreen reporter

No. 14 Cougar football had an amazing Saturday, with a successful College GameDay and an impressive win against a tough then-No. 12 University of Oregon football team.

The victory also put then-No. 25 WSU at six wins on the season, already making the team bowl-eligible after seven games. Though it is hard to tell what bowl WSU might end up playing in, the Cougs have high hopes.

Surprisingly, WSU has a viable path to two prestigious bowl games. The first one just happens to be a semifinal game for this year’s College Football Playoff (CFP).

This game would be the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. The Orange Bowl usually features a team from the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). However, that is not the case for this year’s playoff game.

The Orange Bowl Committee was actually in Pullman this past weekend for College GameDay to meet with WSU Head Coach Mike Leach and Athletic Director Pat Chun, who used to work on that same committee.

The CFP features the top four teams in college football selected by the playoff committee. Through eight weeks in the season so far, it looks very likely that the Orange Bowl will feature a game between the first- and fourth-ranked teams due to the proximity of either No. 1 University of Alabama or No. 2 Clemson University (likely the future No. 1 seed) to Miami, Florida.

The Cougs would need to jump up 10 spots to have a shot at getting into the playoff. One likely requirement to make it into the playoff is that a team needs to have one or no losses on the season. However, I have come up with a path for the Cougs to make it to the College Football Playoff.

The Cougs have one loss already, so any further losses would take WSU out of the title picture. However, the Cougs are the sole one-loss Pac-12 team remaining, meaning they are the last Pac-12 team that has a chance to get to the national championship.

Even if WSU won the rest of its games, which would include the Apple Cup and the Pac-12 Championship Game, it would still need some outside help to make the final four.

Step 1: WSU needs to win every game remaining on the schedule. The only chance the Cougs have to make it to the CFP is by winning every game remaining this season, including the Pac-12 Conference Championship.

Step 2: Alabama beats No. 4 Louisiana State University next week. The Cougs need only one SEC team to make the playoff. Alabama (8-0) and LSU (7-1) are the two most likely playoff teams in the SEC right now and an Alabama win over LSU would increase the chances of only one team from the SEC making the playoff.

Step 3: Alabama wins the SEC Championship over No. 6 University of Georgia (6-1). If Georgia were to beat Alabama, that would put Georgia and most likely Alabama in the playoff, making it nearly impossible for the Cougs to get in.

Step 4: No. 2 Clemson or No. 3 University of Notre Dame loses one more game. Clemson (7-0) and Notre Dame (7-0) look well on their way to making the playoff with both teams having an easy schedule for the rest of the season.

However, if either one were to lose, their playoff hopes would be crushed and it might open the door for another team to sneak in. Since Clemson plays in the ACC, which is having a miserable year with its teams, the lack of any challenging opponents would really hurt Clemson if it came down to a head-to-head with WSU.

Notre Dame has no ranked teams on its remaining schedule, but a loss would really hurt since it is not a part of any conference. Therefore, it cannot play in a conference championship game which is a key factor for one-loss teams trying to get into the final four.

Step 5: The winner of No. 5 University of Michigan (7-1) and No. 11 Ohio State University (7-1) finishes the season with either two losses or loses the Big Ten Conference Championship Game.

This is always a good rivalry game on the last week of the season. Since both teams still have to play each other, at least one of them will lose two games this year. However, if both of these teams lost one more game, the Cougs would be in a much greater position to make the playoff.

One wrinkle to this is No. 18 University of Iowa (6-1). It would need some help to make the Big 10 Conference Championship Game; however, if it was able to miraculously win its conference, the team would likely make the playoff.

Step 6: The Big 12 Conference champion finishes with two losses. The Big 12 currently has three teams in the playoff picture: No. 6 University of Texas (6-1), No. 8 University of Oklahoma (6-1), and No. 13 West Virginia University (5-1).

The results from this conference are very important to the Cougs because the top two teams meet up in the Big 12 Conference Championship Game. The Cougs would likely lose the case for getting into the playoff against a Big 12 team with the same record, so it is crucial for the Big 12 Conference champ to have two losses.

The best way for that to happen would be if Texas lost a conference game before winning the rest of its games, including the conference championship. This is possible because Texas lost a non-conference game already, so if it loses a conference game it would have the same conference record and own the tiebreaker over Oklahoma, who the team already beat.

There is a lot that has to happen to say the least, but there is a chance the Cougs can make the playoff. Only time will tell what will happen, but the one thing that is guaranteed is that the rest of the season will be fun to watch.