• Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Washington fends off Texas in thrilling half, advances to CFP National Championship

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The Pac-12 is going out with a bang.

Months after the storied conference disintegrated due to conference realignment, the Washington Huskies will play for the national championship against Michigan after defeating Texas 37-31 on Monday night. 

Jalen McMillan celebrates a touchdown

Jalen McMillan #11 of the Washington Huskies celebrates with teammates after a touchdown during the third quarter against the Texas Longhorns during the CFP Semifinal Allstate Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome on January 01, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The Longhorns’ late rally in the fourth quarter was a valiant effort led by quarterback Quinn Ewers, but Washington was able to pull away behind Michael Penix Jr.’s dominating performance in the second half. 

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The ​​Heisman Trophy finalist finished 29 of 38 for 430 passing yards and two touchdowns.  

Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the first half to start the third quarter tied at 21. Washington then pulled ahead with Penix’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Jalen McMillan and Grady Gross’ two successful field goal attempts of 26 and 40 yards. 

Texas clawed their way back to a six-point deficit. A string of penalties by Washington would get the Ewers within reach of the endzone, but after four attempts, including a batted down ball by cornerback Elijah Jackson, the Huskies move on in search of their first national championship since 1991 and the Pac-12’s first since 2004.

Elijah Jackson bats down the ball

Elijah Jackson #25 of the Washington Huskies breaks up a pass to Adonai Mitchell #5 of the Texas Longhorns on the final play of the CFP Semifinal Allstate Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome on January 01, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

MICHIGAN RALLIES BACK, ADVANCES TO CFP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WITH OVERTIME VICTORY OVER ALABAMA

The win comes as the Pac-12 prepares for a new look. Washington is one of 10 schools leaving the conference for other Power Five conferences next year, with the Huskies headed to join Michigan in the Big Ten.

But first, Washington will face off against the undefeated Wolverines in the CFP National Championship in Houston, Texas on Jan. 8 after Michigan outlasted Alabama in the Rose Bowl on Monday. 

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Michael Penix celebrates winning the Sugar bowl

Michael Penix Jr. #9 of the Washington Huskies and Edefuan Ulofoshio #5 celebrate with the trophy after a 37-31 victory against the Texas Longhorns in the CFP Semifinal Allstate Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome on January 01, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Senior running back Blake Courm ran for his 56th career touchdown in Michigan’s opening drive of overtime to solidify Big Blue’s place in the championship and became the program’s all-time rushing touchdown leader in the process. 

Fox News’ Joe Morgan and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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