Washington wins Pac 12, likely clinches playoff spot on a night that belonged to...USC?

SANTA CLARA—Friday was a championship night for Washington. A great, commanding, night of purple majesties.

But how about those USC Trojans?

If you can believe it, the Trojans may have won the day.

Washington had to work hard for its spoils; USC didn’t have to lift a finger.

Washington may now have to play Alabama and why would USC want to try that again?

Most teams have to play their way into the Rose Bowl--USC may have watched its way in.

First things first. Washington clinched the Pac 12 title with a decisive, 41-10 win over Colorado at Levi’s Stadium. That win likely secured a spot in the four-team playoff, unless the playoff committee thinks it should now drop its No. 4 team after a 31-point blowout win.

You never know with these people. The first year of the playoff, TCU got short-sheeted after a 55-3 win over Iowa State.

Chairman Kirby Holcutt said this week the committee was “struggling” with No. 4 Washington vs. No. 5 Michigan, seen as some as a warning shot to Seattle.

The committee might be able, now, to put some separation between the “razor thin” margins between these two candidates.

Washington finished 12-1 to Michigan’s 10-2. Washington won its conference; Michigan failed to win its division.

Washington beat Colorado, 41-10, on a neutral field. Michigan beat Colorado, 45-28, in Ann Arbor.

Leaving Washington out of this year’s playoff after Friday night would be an unpardonable sin, a gaffe equal to leaving USC out of the 2003 title game.

So, naturally, Washington is worried.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

“I mean we are not in yet,” Huskies safety Taylor Rapp, named the Pac 12 championship game’s MVP, said. “We still have to see what the committee says but I mean we have a pretty good chance.”

It always seems like Pac teams have to do more and prove more.

Rapp’s two interceptions, early in the second half, flipped a 14-7 into a rout. Rapp jumped in front of quarterback Sefo Lifau’s first pass of the second half and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. A second pick on the next drive, led to a field goal.

The bad news for Washington is that winning probably sends the Huskies to the playoff guillotine against Alabama in the Peach Bowl.

Hmmm, let’s see. Alabama defeated USC, 52-6, and USC defeated Washington, 26-13.

Good luck, though. We hear Alabama offers a blindfold and a last cigarette.

USC came out of the night whistling past the candy store.

Colorado’s loss may have been severe enough to drop the Buffaloes behind USC in the final committee ranking on Sunday.

That would put USC in the Rose Bowl. Who could have imagined that in September?

The bet going into Friday was that No. 8 Colorado was going to hold off No.11 USC in the final ranking accountant.

There is understandable sentiment in not punishing the loser of a conference title game—Iowa earned a Rose Bowl bid after losing the Big Ten championship game.

The bet coming out of Friday night, though, is that Colorado may have played itself out of Pasadena.

“We’d love to play in the Rose Bowl,” Coach Mike MacIntyre said after Friday’s loss.

How do you feel, coach, about the Alamo?

All the puzzle pieces haven’t been put in their places.

A Clemson win over Virginia Tech tomorrow is going to leave the committee with the prospect of leaving out the two-loss Big Ten champion. If that champion is Penn State, watch out below.

The best guess in this press box on Friday night is that USC, if it makes the Rose Bowl, will meet Wisconsin-Penn State winner in tomorrow’s Big Ten championship game.

These are all just guesses.

The only thing that got answered was the legitimacy of Washington, which won its first Pac title since 2000.

There should be no committee waffling now. No more “struggling” with a tough decision.

The Huskies didn’t play a perfect game and quarterback Jake Browning probably lost any chance of winning the Heisman with a sub-par performance against a solid Colorado defense.

Browning completed only 9 of 24 passes for 118 yards (he did have two touchdown passes).

“Our passing game was awkward, for lack of a better word,” Washington Coach Chris Petersen said.

Instead, Washington unleashed its backfield duo of Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman, who combined for 160 yards.

Washington, which has led 80% of its games this year, took the lead for good Friday with 6:38 left in the first.

Washington is good. Not Alabama good, but good.

Still, stomachs well be queasy until Sunday. Holcutt’s comments about Michigan put everything in limbo.

Gaskin, Washington’s star back, seemed perturbed his team’s merits are still being debated.

“That’s up to a bunch of people I don’t even know,” he said.

Petersen stepped in, as good coaches do, to calm nerves.

“I think they’ll do what they should do,” he said, “which is the right thing.”

We’ll find out Sunday.[/membership]