UW Huskies topple Texas 37-31, punch ticket to national title game

Jan 1, 2024, 9:51 PM | Updated: Jan 2, 2024, 1:12 am

The UW Huskies have earned one more game in their magical season.

The Huskies won the Sugar Bowl 37-31 over Texas on Monday night to advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship. Washington will meet Michigan, which won the Rose Bowl 27-20 over Alabama, in the title game in Houston next Monday, Jan. 8.

Sugar Bowl – UW Huskies 37, Texas 31: Recap | Box score

The Huskies and Wolverines are both perfect at 14-0 and winners of their respective conferences. The two teams will actually be conference foes starting next season in the Big Ten as Washington is leaving the Pac-12.

The Huskies used their high-powered passing attack to topple the Longhorns on Monday with star quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who finished second in Heisman voting this season, passing for 430 yards and two touchdowns in arguably the best game of his already-impressive season.

Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk, the latter of whom is from Texas but was not recruited out of high school by the Longhorns, both went over 100 yards receiving.

Top running back Dillon Johnson had two rushing scores for Washington, but he was hurt on the Huskies’ final offensive drive in what could be a massive loss for next week against Michigan.

Caple’s Takeaways: Biggest win ever? Breaking down UW’s Sugar Bowl victory

The game was tied 21-21 at halftime, but Washington used a big third quarter to jump out to a 31-21 lead to start the fourth quarter. In the third, Texas ran just five plays while the Huskies had the ball for over 12 minutes.

The Longhorns made it much closer late, but a Grady Gross field goal for UW with 2:40 left moved it to 37-28, making a Texas comeback that much harder. The Lonhorns still got four shots at the UW end zone to end the game but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Defensively, the Huskies did just enough against Texas’ offense, which is led by current Longhorns and former UW head coach Steve Sarkisian, to come away with the victory.

Defensive end Bralen Trice led the way for UW’s defense, recording two sacks, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble in what was arguably his best performance of the season.

Washington had already set a school record with 13 wins entering the Sugar Bowl, and that is now extended to 14. The Huskies are also riding a 21-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the nation. Head coach Kalen DeBoer’s record improves to 25-2 in his two years at Washington with the semifinal victory.

CFP title game: UW Huskies vs Michigan

The Huskies and Wolverines will face off in a true clash of styles.

Michigan is a run-heavy team that boasts a physical, stifling defense that’s among the best in the nation in a multitude of statistics.

Washington, meanwhile, is as pass-heavy as it comes, as evidenced by Penix leading the country in passing yards each of the last two seasons. The Huskies also have maybe the best receiver trio in the nation in Odunze, Polk and Jalen McMillan.

As was the case with the Sugar Bowl, Seattle Sports will air the ESPN Radio broadcast of the national championship game live next Monday on 710 AM and the Seattle Sports app.

More on the UW Huskies

RB Dillon Johnson has checked off three goals, with two in sight
Damon Huard: Michael Penix ‘is ready for the NFL’
247Sports’ Huffman: Where UW Huskies’ 2024 recruiting class stands
Kalen DeBoer is AP coach of the year after leading UW Huskies to CFP

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