Top 25 playoff teams: Washington

Chris Petersen and the Huskies will have a tough path in the Pac-12. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

From May 27-July 3, Insider's college football experts will preview the season for the 25 teams with the best chance to make the inaugural college football playoff, based on Brian Fremeau's post-spring projections. This is the entry for Washington.

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Fremeau's projection

Projected finish: 9-4 (5-4)
Chance to make playoff: 1 percent
Chance to win Pac-12: 2 percent
Toughest games: Sept. 27 versus Stanford (31 percent), Oct. 18 at Oregon (13 percent), Nov. 8 versus UCLA (44 percent)

Why they'll make the playoff

1. The Huskies return a lot of talent on defense

The Huskies bring back five of seven starters in their front seven, which is tied for the most in the Pac-12. Last year, this group held up fairly well against the run (161.3 rushing yards allowed per game in 2013, fifth in the conference) and did a superb job of getting after the passer. Washington finished second in the conference in sacks (41) and lost only 3.5 of those sacks to graduation.

The best of this bunch may be defensive end Hau'oli Kikaha, who rated as one of the best bowl-game performers in the Pac-12.

The Huskies also get back their best cornerback, Marcus Peters, who was the club's top ball hawk (team-leading five interceptions) and did a stellar job in coverage. According to STATS LLC, his 3.9 yards allowed per passing attempt (YPA) ranked fifth nationally among defensive backs with 30 or more targets last season.

2. Washington has a powerful offensive line