There’s been plenty of teams that have captivated the eyes of college football fans everywhere. From newcomers like James Madison to usual suspects like Ohio State, there’s plenty to cheer for if you’re a college football fan. That also means that the college football playoff race is going to heat up and two teams are in a heated battle for the No. 4 seed. Headlined by Heisman candidate Michael Penix Jr., the Washington Huskies currently stand at the No. 5 seed in the AP Top 25 with a 9-0 record to show for it. However, the team still stands behind No. 4 Florida State for a spot in the college football playoffs. This raises an interesting question. Could the Huskies manage to grab the No. 4 seed or will the Seminoles hold on for a chance at college football glory? Associate Sports Editor Evan Rodriguez and Campus Correspondent CJ Dexter will argue this question in this week’s segment of point/counterpoint.
I actually had the treat of being able to watch the Seminoles duke it out against the Pittsburgh Panthers over the weekend at Acrisure Stadium. Even without Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson, the program stood resilient and grabbed the dub 24-7. While Florida State struggled at times on both sides of the ball, the one thing to take away from this game is that this squad is still so tough to beat, even when injuries may be holding them back. With that being said, I have confidence that the Seminoles can hold on to the No. 4 seed, especially if the team gets back some of their key contributors on the receiving end. When this team is healthy with Jordan Travis at the helm and weapons like Trey Benson in the backfield, they’ve shown that they’re one of the toughest teams in college football, grabbing victories from teams like LSU and Duke. It’s not going to be easy throughout the rest of the season with games against both Miami and Florida, but if the team continues to show the resiliency that I was able to witness live, I have confidence that they can keep their No. 4 spot.
There is no denying how dynamic Travis and Florida State have been this season. With their remaining schedule consisting of Miami, North Alabama and Florida, I fully believe that they will finish the season unbeaten and take down No. 11 Louisville in the ACC championship to get to 13-0. With that being said, if Penix and the Washington Huskies can get to 13-0, they should, without hesitation, get the final CFB spot (assuming Georgia, Ohio State and Michigan all make it in). The Huskies have already taken down No. 6 Oregon, No. 23 Arizona and USC this season. Additionally, they’ll have three more games against resume-boosting opponents before the season ends. I have great confidence that Penix and Co. will take care of business against No. 13 Utah, No. 12 Oregon State and coast into the PAC-12 championship game against Oregon or USC. There’s no doubt Washington will have a tougher time trying to get to the finish line at 13-0, but if the program succeeds at that task, it should be a seamless decision for the committee to put the Huskies in over the Seminoles. Florida State currently has one win against an AP Top 25 opponent and will have just one more chance to grab another in the ACC championship. Washington currently has two wins against AP Top 25 opponents and will have three more chances to tally that number even higher. It’s less likely that Washington gets to 13-0 due to their grueling remaining schedule. But, if the Huskies run the table, they should without a doubt get favored over the Seminoles in the CFB playoff selection.
The Huskies have certainly had an insane run thus far and there’s no doubt about that. Regardless of what happens, you have to admit that Penix himself has had an absolutely legendary season. As for the criteria for Washington, both wins over Oregon and Arizona are undoubtedly impressive, but the win over USC is not as impressive considering that the Trojans defense has not been great before Alex Grinch’s firing. When you combine that with an offensive superstar in Penix opposing USC’s shaky defensive effort, the odds don’t spell well for the program. Furthermore, other than the team’s win over Oregon, I wouldn’t say Washington’s run has been vastly more impressive than Florida State’s. Even discussing some of the unranked opponents that the Seminoles have beaten, the program has a win over Clemson, who just beat No. 22 Notre Dame. Additionally, I don’t disagree that it’s going to be tough to not admit Washington if they win out against two ranked opponents, though, that’s a huge “if.” Oregon State and Utah are both great programs and specifically with the Beavers, that’s going to be a Pac-12 road game for Penix and Co. It’s going to be a battle for the program and if the Huskies end up dropping just a single game, it will be all but decided for Florida State. Finally, if the Seminoles go into the ACC championship with their entire offensive core healthy, I have confidence that the team not only will win against No. 11 Louisville, but it may not even be close. When you take all those factors into account, I think the committee will narrowly give the edge to Florida State in this one.
There is no doubt that if Washington should lose one game, they will take a backseat to Florida State in the CFB Playoff rankings. But Washington has what it takes to win out and submit a bolstered resume to the CFB playoff selection committee. In addition to having the Heisman Trophy favorite at quarterback, the Huskies have one of the best wide receivers in the nation in Rome Odunze, who is fifth in the nation in receiving yards and is projected to go in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. In addition to Penix and Odunze, running back Dillon Johnson’s absurd six yards-per-carry adds another layer to this high-flying offense. Defensively, the Huskies have allowed 28.5 points per game in conference play, which isn’t good. But, the offense has been unstoppable with 509 yards and 41.7 points per game, which are both good for fourth in the FBS. I don’t see anyone slowing down this offense and should they finish 13-0, a spot in the college football playoff will be waiting for them.