Okay, look, the Washington State Cougars need some help. They are clearly the best team in the Pac-12, as Friday night’s slap fight of a Championship Game showed. (Six offensive points. SIX!) There is no earthly reason why they shouldn’t be in a New Year’s Six bowl game, except ... well ... the College Football Playoff committee has deemed them not worthy (thus far) of a slot in the big time. For reasons only they understand.
But we are not here to rehash those arguments. No, despite the inconsistency of the CFP’s reasoning throughout the course of the latter half of the season, there is still a sliver of hope that, based on the results of Saturday’s conference championship games, the committee will pull its collective head out, see the light, and put WSU into a New Year’s Six bowl. Here’s what we think needs to happen. Cross your fingers, toes, and vestigial appendages, sacrifice a small animal or seven, commune with whatever deity and/or demonic entity you ascribe meaning to. Because we need some mojo.
12:00 EST - Red River Redux
#5 Oklahoma vs. #14 Texas
The first iteration of this game was a wild one. Texas jumped out to a two score lead in the first half, then a three score lead heading into the fourth quarter. Oklahoma came storming back to tie the game, only to see Cameron Dicker win it for Texas on a 40-yard field goal. The loss was enough to cost then Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mark Stoops his job. Ruffin McNeill stepped in to take over the reins of the defense and things haven’t really gotten much better for the Sooner defense. As such, this figures to be another shootout. It is the Big XII, after all. Defense only exists in theory.
FOR MAXIMUM WSU BENEFIT: We’d like to see an Oklahoma win, but not a convincing one. The Big XII champion goes to the Sugar Bowl, unless they happen to go to the playoff. In that case, the loser of the title game takes the Sugar Bowl slot. So OU in the playoff means that Texas, probably ranked somewhere around eighteenth, goes to New Orleans and takes away another potential NY6 bowl slot from the Cougs. A Texas win bumps them up into the Top 12 (and above WSU) without dropping Oklahoma out of the Top 12 (and still above WSU). So that’s the Sugar Bowl and a second NY6 bowl slot. That is bad for us.
3:30 EST - The Champions try to stay alive
Memphis @ #8 UCF
Another rematch game. Memphis gave UCF all they could handle back in October, blitzing the Knights on their way to a 30-14 lead late in the second quarter. And then never scoring the rest of the game, as McKenzie Milton led UCF all the way back to escape with a one point win. This time around, UCF will be without their signal caller, as he suffered one of the more devastating knee injuries you’ll see last week against USF. Darriel Mack, Jr stepped in and performed well. It remains to be seen if he can be The Guy.
And yeah, okay, as a fan base they have gotten pretty annoying as the year has gone by. But I think most of us, as rational fans of college football, agree that an expansion to the playoff is a good thing. Whether you think it should be six, eight, sixty-four, or something a little more simple, the larger point is that we need more teams in the bracket. UCF continuing to bang the door has to help with that. HOWEVER.
FOR MAXIMUM WSU BENEFIT: A Memphis win. Yes, I know, whether it’s UCF or Boise State or Fresno State, a Group of 5 team is going to be in a NY6 bowl. That’s fine. What we, as fans of WSU, are hoping for is movement above us and by us. I think it’s a little easier for the committee to justify maybe sliding the Cougs up a spot if there are as many parts moving around as possible. If UCF slides out of the Top 12, maybe the committee can just use some sleight of hand and pop WSU above Penn State. I’m sure no one east of the Continental Divide would notice.
4:00 EST - The Rematch of the Title Game Rematch, Which might be the Preview of the Semifinal Rematch and oh god we’re caught in a loop someone please god get me off this ride it’s starting to smell like purple
#4 Georgia vs. #1 Alabama
These two locked up their respective divisions in June. I’m sure that’s right, don’t worry about checking. So we all get to enjoy Ali-Frazier III. Golden State-Cleveland III. The Last Crusade. The Return of the King. Other names of the third version of things. It’s probably going to live up to the hype, too. The SEC has it down to a science, and Atlanta is just about the perfect setting for a championship game, for a multitude of reasons. But let’s say Georgia wins. Would the committee have the audacity to vault Georgia to #1 and stick Alabama in at #4 to set up an immediate rematch? I put nothing past them. And that would be good for us.
FOR MAXIMUM WSU BENEFIT: A Georgia win is probably the best scenario. Georgia’s not going to fall far if they lose, but it would be enough to put in either Oklahoma or Ohio State, depending on the results of those games. Either of which is not good for the Cougs. Even with one-loss, there’s no way you can objectively say that Alabama is not one of the best four teams in the country. So a loss for the Tide does not knock them out of the playoff, which potentially opens up another spot in the NY6. Also maybe it makes that LSU loss look a little worse? But it makes the LSU win over Georgia look better so maybe not I don’t know I hate all of this and this sport is dumb.
8:00 PM EST - The ... wait, who won the division? Seriously? Well. I’ll be damned ... games.
#6 Ohio State vs. #21 Northwestern
#2 Clemson vs. Pittsburgh
B1G West: Hey, someone has to win this division, right?
Pac-12 South: No really, someone is definitely contractually obligated to be named champion, right?
ACC Coastal: [Loudly belching for 10 seconds straight]
FOR MAXIMUM WSU BENEFIT: Ohio State by a little and Clemson by a lot. Ohio State and Oklahoma are kind of the same deal for us. Ohio State’s going to the Rose Bowl unless they murderkill Northwestern while Oklahoma and either Georgia or Clemson lose. If that happens, Michigan goes to the Rose Bowl, so that doesn’t really change anything for us. Michigan’s going to be in a NY6 bowl regardless. So we just don’t want Northwestern winning, because that’ll mean three B1G teams in the NY6 which oh god why would you ever want that?
Clemson, on the other hand, needs to win big. Like.... really big. Like Georgia Tech over Cumberland big. This might be the game that has the most direct (indirect?) influence over WSU jumping a team. Penn State is getting a résumé bump, presumably, from beating a division champion. Never mind that that division champion is probably going to end up 7-6 and won the worst division in college football this year and that win was in September which might as well be in the Carter administration it was so long ago. But I digress. If Clemson annihilates Pitt, like they should, that might take some of that shine off Penn State. That might be the justification the committee needs to vault WSU above Penn State.
Or it might not.
Because who even knows with this committee.
But hey, stranger things have happened.