Washington gets past Oregon to win Pac-12 title. What it means for College Football Playoff

One team is already locked into the College Football Playoff.

Washington capped an undefeated regular season with a thrilling 34-31 win against Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game and is guaranteed to finish somewhere in the top four of the final playoff rankings, depending on how things play out across the rest of the Power Five.

The second win on the season against the Ducks is the ultimate response to doubters who dismissed the Huskies' chances in this game and place among the elite teams in the Bowl Subdivision.

In case it wasn't clear: Washington is a deserving playoff team and a dangerous matchup for any team in the semifinals.

Quarterback Michael Penix completed 27 of 39 attempts for 319 yards and a touchdown and keyed two enormous touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to reverse Oregon's 24-20 lead. Washington led 20-3 in the second quarter but was in danger of letting the Pac-12 championship slip away before the offense reasserted itself against the Ducks' worn-down defense.

All that's left to decide is where the Huskies fall in the final rankings, which depends on how things play out in the SEC championship game between Georgia and Alabama along with the Big Ten championship between Michigan and Iowa. Regardless, Washington will become the first Pac-12 team to reach the playoff since the Huskies did so under former coach Chris Petersen in 2016.

Also on Friday, Liberty beat New Mexico State 49-35 to capture the Conference USA championship. The Flames are one of only a small handful of unbeaten teams in the Bowl Subdivision and a contender for the Group of Five's bid to the New Year's Six, but there's a roadblock of teams in their way, as we'll see.

What Washington's win means for the playoff

Washington has completed a perfect regular season in one of the top leagues in the FBS and can sit back and wait to see how the rest of the Power Five landscape unfolds during Saturday's games.

The only question is where the Huskies will land: whether as high as No. 1 or as low as No. 3. There is no chance Washington falls to No. 4 with a second win against the Ducks.

Getting to No. 1 requires two upsets: Alabama over Georgia and Iowa over Michigan. The Huskies will probably stick at No. 3 should both favorites win, though beating Oregon twice could be enough for the committee to push them above the Wolverines.

Then it's a question of matchups. The most likely is opposite Michigan as the second or third seed in the Rose Bowl, the earlier of the two semifinals on New Year's Day.

Should Michigan lose and Florida State win, the Huskies would rise to No. 2 and take on the Seminoles. In the scenario where the Tide, Hawkeyes and Seminoles win to bump UW to No. 1, the matchup would come against Texas, Georgia or Michigan.

Michael Penix and the Heisman Trophy

Penix was the Heisman front-runner for a good chunk of the regular season before losing his grip in November, and went into Friday night third in the pecking order behind Oregon QB Bo Nix and LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels. The win should change things.

But maybe not enough. Penix was very solid in the first half but less so in the second, and he probably would've needed a more complete, eye-opening sort of game to make up ground he'd ceded to Nix and Daniels.

The good news is that Heisman voters probably can't vote for Nix over Penix, given the Huskies' two head-to-head wins this season. That's if many voters hadn't already sent in their ballots in advance of the weekend, which is always a possibility.

The bad news for Penix is that Daniels isn't going anywhere. For those torn between Nix and Daniels, Friday's result might not mean a switched vote to Penix but an embrace of the LSU senior as the obvious Heisman pick.

Can Washington win the national championship?

Any team that can beat Oregon once, let alone twice, is good enough to beat any opponent on a neutral field and win the national championship.

This second win erases the idea that the earlier victory at home was the result of coaching decisions on Dan Lanning's part or catching the Ducks on an off day. Washington was the more aggressive team and was very effective at the point of attack, offsetting the misguided belief that Oregon would be the more physical team on the line of scrimmage.

Overall, this performance should open some eyes. Far more than just a borderline upset — Oregon was more than a touchdown favorite despite the previous loss — the win should lead to a reevaluation of the Huskies' chances against opponents such as Georgia, Michigan or Texas.

Let's wait to see who Washington draws in the semifinals and, if they're fortunate, the championship game. But there's no doubt the Huskies have the offense, quarterback, coaching staff and mindset to shine on college football's biggest stage against some of the biggest brands in the sport.

Is Liberty going to make a New Year's Six bowl?

The odds are slim even after the win against New Mexico State. While beating the Aggies will help boost Liberty's reputation with the selection committee, the Flames are still looking up at the winner of the American, especially if Tulane beats SMU in the conference championship game.

While SMU was not in the latest playoff rankings, the Mustangs are expected to move ahead of Liberty should they beat the Green Wave.

Basically, the Flames did all they could do during the regular season and will still come up short of the New Year's Six. That's not due to bias or lack of deep thinking on the part of the committee but a reflection on Liberty's extremely weak schedule.

The Flames did not play a Power Five opponent and have six wins against bowl teams, two coming against the Aggies. Outside of NMSU, the team's best win is either Jacksonville State or Bowling Green. That's not nearly enough to justify coming in ahead of the AAC champion.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How Washington winning Pac-12 impacts the College Football Playoff