As expected, Washington moved up a spot to No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings and remains on course for an appearance in the College Football Playoff.
If the Huskies beat No. 8 Colorado on Friday in the Pac-12 championship game, they should absolutely expect to be among the four-team field. The only conceivable scenario in which they get left out after a win is if after Saturday, the selection committee decides to leapfrog the Big Ten champion (either Wisconsin or Penn State). If Wisconsin wins, that's very unlikely to happen, but many believe Penn State, on the strength of its win over No. 2 Ohio State, would have a compelling case.
For now, let's assume Washington is in. From there, the playoff rankings would be used to determine whether Colorado or USC goes to the Rose Bowl. It's simple: The higher-ranked team goes to Pasadena. The bowl has no choice in the matter. Colorado jumped Oklahoma to move to No. 8 this week and now sits three spots ahead of No. 11 USC. It still stands to reason that Colorado, which lost to USC, could fall below the Trojans (after a loss to Washington), but there is no fail-safe way to predict how that will play out.
It's possible whichever team does not go to the Rose Bowl could be ranked high enough to end up in the Cotton Bowl, but the clear expectation is that the team would go to the Valero Alamo Bowl. To that point, everything will be dictated by the rankings. The Alamo Bowl could theoretically pass on USC or Colorado for Washington State, but that will not happen.
The Holiday Bowl picks next, and it will have the option of Washington State or Stanford. According to multiple sources close to the selection process, the Holiday Bowl is leaning toward selecting WSU, which beat Stanford 42-16 earlier this season. That doesn't mean the bowl has settled on the Cougars, but there is a widely-held belief that WSU will be the choice.
With WSU off the board, the Foster Farms Bowl would then choose between Stanford and Utah. Again, no decisions have been made, but according to multiple sources, the Foster Farms Bowl would be expected to choose Utah. Stanford played in the game two years ago, and despite Stanford's being local, the bowl isn't keen on bringing the Cardinal back so soon. If the Holiday Bowl selects Stanford, the Foster Farms Bowl would be obligated to choose WSU because its conference record (7-2) is two games better than Utah's (5-4).
That leaves Stanford, the only remaining bowl-eligible team in the Pac-12, for the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
If Colorado beats Washington, the Buffaloes likely wouldn't be able to jump all the way into the top four (though it could happen) and would head to the Rose Bowl. Washington is less likely to drop below USC because of its current ranking and could be in line for a Cotton Bowl appearance (probably against Western Michigan). The Alamo Bowl would then select USC, and everything else would remain the same.
There will be a few 5-7 teams participating in bowls again, but neither of the Pac-12's, California or Arizona State, figure to be among those offered a spot. Cal would need at least two and possibly three teams to turn down invitations for it to wind up with the opportunity. If at that point Cal says no, ASU would be the next option.
College Football Playoff semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Washington
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual: USC
Valero Alamo Bowl: Colorado
Holiday Bowl: Washington State
Foster Farms Bowl: Utah
Hyundai Sun Bowl: Stanford
Las Vegas Bowl: Vacant
Cactus Bowl: Vacant