Michael Penix Jr. Guides No. 2 Washington to 37-31 Triumph Over Texas, Securing a Spot in the National Title Game

Michael Penix Jr. Guides No. 2 Washington to 37-31 Triumph Over Texas, Securing a Spot in the National Title Game

NEW ORLEANS — In a thrilling showdown at the Sugar Bowl on Monday night, Michael Penix Jr. showcased his prowess, passing for 430 yards and two touchdowns, leading the undefeated Washington Huskies to a 37-31 victory over the Texas Longhorns. This triumph secured Washington's spot in the College Football Playoff championship game, where they will face No. 1 Michigan next Monday night in Houston.

The second-ranked Huskies (14-0) are now on the cusp of claiming their first national championship since 1991, while simultaneously representing the beleaguered Pac-12 in their final season before conference realignment. Washington, set to join Michigan in the Big Ten next year, emerged victorious in a hard-fought battle against the third-ranked Texas Longhorns (12-2) in a game that showcased the resilience of both teams.

Washington's journey to the championship game wasn't without its challenges, as they had to fend off a determined Texas squad in the closing moments of the game. The Longhorns, making their first-ever College Football Playoff appearance and bidding farewell to the Big 12 before moving to the Southeastern Conference, fought relentlessly.

In the fourth quarter, kicker Grady Gross extended Washington's lead to 34-21, only for Texas to mount a comeback with a passing touchdown by Quinn Ewers. A subsequent field goal by Gross increased the Huskies' lead to 37-28, setting the stage for a nail-biting finish. Texas managed to secure a field goal with 69 seconds left, making it 37-31, but their hopes for an improbable comeback were dashed as Ewers couldn't connect with Adonai Mitchell in the end zone.

The pivotal moments of the game unfolded in each quarter, with Washington taking an early lead in the 1st quarter after a 4-play, 89-yard drive orchestrated by Penix Jr.'s impressive 77-yard pass to wide receiver Ja'Lynn Polk.

In the 2nd quarter, both teams traded blows, with Washington eventually gaining a brief 21-14 lead after another Penix Jr. and Polk connection. However, a determined Texas responded with a touchdown, tying the game at 21 heading into halftime.

The 3rd quarter saw Washington surge ahead, with a 70-yard drive culminating in a Penix Jr. pass to Jalen McMillan, giving the Huskies a 28-21 lead. A Texas fumble then set up a 26-yard field goal for Washington, extending their advantage.

As the final season of the four-team playoff concludes, all eyes are now on the highly anticipated Pac-12 vs. Big Ten championship clash, mirroring the inaugural matchup in 2024 when Ohio State prevailed over Oregon. The Huskies are eager to make history and claim the championship, providing a fitting conclusion to their Pac-12 era before transitioning to the Big Ten.