National Title Set: No. 3 Washington Will Play No. 1 Michigan Next Monday After Beating Texas 37-31 In Another Nail-Biting Semifinal


NEW ORLEANS – Washington became the first Pac-12 Conference champion team in history to not get to play in the Rose Bowl this season.

But the Huskies will gladly take the College Football Playoff championship game next Monday in Houston instead. Washington will play No. 1 Michigan, an overtime winner over Alabama in its semifinal, in what amounts to a retro-fitted Rose Bowl between the Pac-12 and Big Ten.

No. 2 Washington beat No. 3 Texas, 37-31, in the CFP semifinal at the Sugar Bowl Monday night in front of 68,791 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to reach the title game. Washington (14-0) will play Michigan (14-0) on Jan. 8 at Reliant Stadium (7:30 p.m., ESPN).

Washington And Michigan To Play In Non-SEC CFP Title Game

The Wolverines defeated No. 4 Alabama, 27-20, in overtime earlier Monday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Michigan’s win over Southeastern Conference dynasty Crimson Tide means the CFP title game will be the first since the first year of the CFP in the 2014-15 season not to have an SEC team. Ohio State beat Oregon that year for the national title.

The Texas loss also made the SEC fall to 5-6 in bowl games this season, counting the current members of the league and two new ones entering in 2024 – Oklahoma and Texas.

Michigan leads the all-time series with Washington that began in 1953 by 8-5, including a 31-10 win in the last meeting in 2021. The two programs have split four Rose Bowl games, 2-2.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. shredded Texas’ defense throughout the night. The senior Heisman Trophy runner-up completed 29-of-38 passes for 430 yards and 2 touchdowns while also rushing three times for 31 yards.

“He was on a mission,” Washington coach Kalen DeBoer said. “The whole last month of the season. And finishing second in that (Heisman) vote may have done something to him.”

Penix shouted to the crowd, “We got one more to go.”

The Huskies had to hold their breath at the end, though, as Texas reached the 12-yard line in the final moments behind quarterback Quinn Ewers. But after a completion for a yard loss, Ewers had three shots from the 13-yard line and threw incomplete each time.

On the last one with :01 remaining, Ewers had wide receiver Adonai Mitchell open in the end zone on a fade and threw it accurately to him. But Washington cornerback Elijah Jackson swatted it away just in time for the win.

“We didn’t want it to be that close, but Elijah came up with a big-time stop,” Penix said. “It was great. It was amazing.”

Texas running back Jaydon Blue is hoisted into the air by Texas offensive lineman Jake Majors after scoring a touchdown in the first half at the Sugar Bowl playoff game Monday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Huskies took the lead three times in the first half – 7-0, 14-7 and 21-14 before Texas tied the game for the third time at 21-21 with 17 seconds to go in the second quarter. Washington took a 28-21 lead with the opening possession of the third quarter on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Penix to wide receiver Jalen McMillan and never relinquished that advantage.

Washington Huskies Led Texas For Most Of The Game

Texas did cut it to 34-28 on a perfectly thrown, 1-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Quinn Ewers to the right corner of the end zone. Wide receiver Adonai Mitchell jumped up and caught it with 7:23 to play.

Washington extended its lead to 37-28 on a 27-yard field goal by Grady Gross with 2:40 to go. Texas cut that to 37-31 on a 25-yard field goal by Bert Auburn.

The Huskies won for the third time in their last four games as an underdog. Washington also won its 10th straight game by 10 points or less, which is the longest such streak in college football history.

Ewers completed 24-of-43 passes for 318 yards with a touchdown and rushed eight times for 54 yards. The back of Ewers’ head slammed to the ground on a sack in the second half. After Washington took over following a punt, Texas backup Arch Manning warmed up on the sidelines as medical trainers checked on Ewers.

But Ewers returned to the game and came within a few inches of winning it.

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