The College Football Playoff committee decided to make a strong statement on Tuesday night: Strength of schedule, particularly in the nonconference, matters.
And for the Washington Huskies, that's not a good thing.
They have an undefeated record, a Heisman candidate, an impressive road win, but a down year in the Pac-12 and a soft nonconference lineup have left them with a weak strength of schedule ranking at No. 69.
One-loss Texas A&M checked in ahead of Washington at the No. 4 spot in the first rankings, thanks largely to their strength of schedule -- No. 26 in FBS. The Aggies' one loss is a quality loss to No. 1 Alabama and as a result the Huskies were ranked No. 5, putting them on the outside looking in.
"The committee in our mind believes that Texas A&M has played a stronger schedule at this point in time of the season over Washington," said Kirby Hocutt, Texas Tech athletic director and chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Hocutt pointed out that the Aggies have four wins over teams that have winning records while the Huskies have only two wins of that nature.
But it's important to have a bit of perspective here, and for the Washington fans who were quick to pop open their favorite IPA: relax.
Over the past two years, just three of the top eight teams from the initial rankings made the playoff. Meaning, there's plenty of time and space for Washington to make its move.
But this also means there's no margin for error. With as weak as the scheduling is for the Huskies, they must win out -- and win out convincingly -- to find themselves in the top four when it truly matters.
According to ESPN's FPI, the Huskies have a 29.7 percent chance of winning out.
Of the other three undefeated Power 5 teams, that's the lowest odds in ending the season undefeated. No. 1 Alabama sits with a 42.2 percent chance of winning out, with the Crimson Tide's toughest matchup coming next weekend at No. 13 LSU (Alabama has a 65.5 percent chance to win that game). No. 2 Clemson holds a 58.9 percent chance to win out (toughest matchup: Pitt) and No. 3 Michigan has a 39.6 percent chance to win out (toughest matchup: No. 6 Ohio State).
So, Husky fans, since you might need a bit of help from some of the teams in front of Washington, it's time to cheer on the Tigers, Panthers and Buckeyes. Because there's only a 2.9 percent chance that all four of the undefeated Power 5 teams will enter the bowl season with that undefeated record.
Looking forward, the Huskies' toughest matchup, per FPI, will come in the Apple Cup when Washington faces 25th-ranked Washington State, but the Huskies still have at least a 70 percent chance to win every game in the regular season.
At Cal: 82.3 percent
Vs. USC: 75.9 percent
Vs. Arizona State: 93.7 percent
At Washington State: 70.3 percent
Those four games present opportunities to pick up wins, and with South-leading Colorado in the rankings (No. 15), as well as a Washington win over No. 16 Utah, the Huskies will continue to have chances to impress the committee.