What Stands Out: Brock Huard on UW punching ticket to title game

Jan 2, 2024, 2:42 PM

UW Huskies Rome Odunze NFL Draft...

UW Huskies WR Rome Odunze reacts during the Sugar Bowl against Texas on Jan. 1, 2024. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

(Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

In a Sugar Bowl that came down to the very final second, it was the No. 2 UW Huskies that prevailed in the College Football Playoff semifinal over No. 3 Texas to clinch a spot to play for the national championship.

Hot Take: Why UW Huskies’ Penix was so amazing in Sugar Bowl

According to Yahoo Sports’ college football writer Ross Dellenger, no matter who wins next Monday in Houston – UW or No. 1 Michigan – this will be just the fourth time since 2000 that the championship is won by a team that didn’t sign a top-five recruiting class in the preceding four years.

You can imagine Monday was pretty exciting for former UW Huskies quarterback Brock Huard, who is now a FOX college football analyst and co-host of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

“Brock has not slept since the Huskies won last night,” said Mike Salk, Huard’s co-host, Tuesday morning on Brock and Salk. “Describe your emotions.”

“Multiple times, I was slapping the fireplace mantle,” answered Huard, who then set the scene from where he watched the UW Huskies’ victory. “I think I sprained Tom Nelson‘s wrist. I don’t know if it was me or Shane Pahukoa, the former national champion on the ’91 team. It was a room full of a lot of excited Huskies.”

Huskies don’t dwell on the negative

UW has claimed two previous national titles in its school’s history, one in 1960 when it defeated Minnesota in the Rose Bowl (despite Associated Press and United Press International ranking Minnesota as the national champion in polls conducted after the regular season) and a split title in 1991 with Miami.

Next Monday will be the Huskies’ first national championship game appearance since college football’s playoff system began in 2014. If UW defeats Michigan, it would also be the Pac-12’s first national title since USC won in 2004.

But getting to this point hasn’t been easy, as the last 10 victories for UW have been decided by 10 points or less. Against Texas, running back Dillon Johnson – who authored a 1,162-yard, 16-TD season in his lone year with UW – went down with an injury that stopped the clock, saving Texas precious seconds for its final drive to steal the game from the clutches of the Pacific Northwest.

“Once Dillon stayed down, I was screaming because I know what’s going to happen,” Huard said. “I start pacing around the room to the kitchen and I’m screaming like, ‘Just hobble off, carry him off once he’s down.’ It should have been an instant lesson for those guys. The linemen pick him up, get him off the field… If you’ve got a broken leg, if you’ve got a dislocated knee, I don’t care, crawl off the field. You have got to get off the field because it’s 45 seconds to play for the national title.”

Huard said that if Texas had pulled off the miracle comeback, it would have been a worse loss than the Seattle Seahawks’ in Super Bowl XLIX. But Kalen DeBoer, head coach of the UW Huskies, doesn’t operate on negativity.

“DeBoer said after the game that the team doesn’t think negative thoughts, right?” Huard stated. “We go for it on fourth down in our own territory, we don’t think about negative thoughts. We go for it on our own 29 in the Apple Cup and run an end-around reverse, flip behind us, because we don’t think about negative thoughts. We don’t live in the negative. Yours truly lives a little more of a, ‘Oh my gosh, this can be worse than the Super Bowl if they lose this game.'”

UW’s draft prospects

This year’s NFL Draft could be a big one for UW. After having zero players drafted into the pros last year, six UW players rank among the top 200 prospects of this year’s draft class. Eight players were drafted from UW in 2019, the most in a single year for the university since 2000. In 2015, three players were drafted in the first round, the most for the school since 2000.

Among the players eligible for the draft is the man under center, Michael Penix Jr., who not only has a strong chance of being the sixth quarterback taken from UW since 2000 but could be Washington’s second QB taken in the first round, joining Jake Locker (drafted No. 8 overall in 2011). The Huskies also have another player who is almost sure to go in the first round, wide receiver Rome Odunze.

“Can we stop saying that he’s going to be a late first-round pick?” Salk asked on-air. “He’s a top-five pick in the NFL Draft.”

“He’s going to go in the top 10,” Brock added. “We’ll see what’s wrong. I mean, Rome is going to push Marvin Harrison Jr. They’re going to be top 10,” Huard said. “The only reason against Penix is what you referenced, just the medicals. Two ACLs, two shoulders, but he’s played now for 20-something games. He just won his 21st game in a row with that coach. He has just slayed every question-asker and doubter game after game after game.”

Listen to the Brock and Salk Show weekday mornings from 7-10 a.m. on Seattle Sports. Hear the podcast of this discussion at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on UW Huskies in the CFP

Title game matches UW Huskies’ prolific Penix vs Michigan’s elite D
UW Huskies topples Texas to punch ticket to national title game
Recap: Penix leads UW Huskies over Texas 37-31 in Sugar Bowl
Damon Huard: UW Huskies’ Michael Penix ‘is ready for the NFL’
247Sports’ Huffman: Where UW Huskies’ 2024 recruiting class stands

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What Stands Out: Brock Huard on UW punching ticket to title game