PULLMAN – Washington State cracked the top 10 of the initial College Football Playoff rankings, checking in at No. 8 in the country when the rankings were unveiled Tuesday afternoon on ESPN’s weekly College Football Playoff show.
It’s the highest ranking for the Washington State program since the College Football Playoff format was introduced in 2014. The Cougars debuted last season at No. 25 and climbed up to No. 13 before falling to No. 14 and eventually down to No. 18 after a loss to Washington in the Apple Cup.
The Cougars, who own a 7-1 overall record and 4-1 Pac-12 mark, came in at No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 Sunday and No. 11 in the Amway Coaches’ Poll.
“I think Washington State is up there in striking distance,” ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said as the top 10 of the CFP Rankings were released. “The one thing at the end of the day if they keep winning that could hurt them is their nonconference schedule.”
The top 10 of the first CFP rankings are: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 8 WSU, No. 9, Kentucky and No. 10 Ohio State.
The Cougars are the only Pac-12 team inside the top 10 and one of two teams from the conference ranked. Utah, which lost 28-24 at Martin Stadium on Sept. 29, came in at No. 15.
There will be five more installments of the College Football Playoff rankings, which are determined by the CFP Committee, between now and the end of the season. On Dec. 2 – “Selection Day” – the committee will release the final edition of the rankings and determine which four teams will advance to the four-team playoff.
The Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl, both scheduled on Dec. 29, will serve as this season’s semifinal games. The national championship game will take place on Jan. 7, 2019, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.