The Pac-12 won’t have a team in the College Football Playoff for a second straight season.
No. 8 Washington State’s slim playoff hopes were extinguished 28-15 on a snowy evening in Pullman by rival Washington. The No. 16 Huskies will represent the Pac-12 North in the conference title game next Friday against Pac-12 South champion Utah.
It’s the sixth straight win for Washington over Washington State and it happened thanks to the Huskies’ second-half running game as Myles Gaskin scored his third touchdown of the evening in the fourth quarter on an 80-yard run. The score, coupled with a two-point conversion by Salvon Ahmed, put Washington up 13 points and the Cougars never got any closer.
Washington State entered Saturday on a seven-game win streak and as the only Pac-12 team with a single loss. But thanks to a weak non-conference schedule, the Cougars needed a win over Washington on Friday night, a win over Utah in the Pac-12 title game and some help from a few of the teams ahead of them in the rankings for a playoff chance.
The first step in that plan clearly didn’t happen, meaning the conference will assuredly miss out on the playoff for the third time in the format’s five-year existence. Only Oregon (2014) and Washington (2016) have represented the conference since the playoff followed the BCS.
Gardner Minshew has his worst game of the season
The Cougars’ 2018 success was powered largely by quarterback Gardner Minshew, who became a fringe Heisman candidate as he led the nation in passing yards and completed over 70 percent of his passes. Like Washington State’s playoff hopes, Minshew’s Heisman candidacy disappeared in the Pullman snow. Minshew was 26-of-35 passing for just 151 yards and two interceptions. It was the first time all season that he had not thrown a touchdown pass and also the first time he failed to crack the 300-yard mark, let alone the 200-yard barrier.
Jake Browning goes 4-0
On the other side, Washington quarterback Jake Browning became the first quarterback to go 4-0 in an Apple Cup. Browning threw an interception in the first quarter and had a fumble in the third that gave Washington State some life but was otherwise solid. He threw for 207 yards on just 11-of-14 passing.
Gaskin was the star of the show. Now healthy after missing time in October, Gaskin ran for over 100 yards in his third straight game and had his first three-touchdown game of the season. He had 27 carries for 170 yards while Ahmed added 88 yards on nine carries.
With Washington State out of the playoff picture, the Pac-12’s top bowl assignments are pretty clear. The winner of Washington-Utah will play in the Rose Bowl while Washington State will likely play in the Fiesta Bowl.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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