No. 3 Washington rallies to beat No. 5 Oregon 34-31 and secure playoff spot

by Gabriel Martinez
College Football Playoff

In a thrilling Pac-12 Championship showdown, No. 3 Washington mounted a remarkable comeback against No. 5 Oregon, ultimately securing not only the conference title but also a coveted spot in the College Football Playoff with a 34-31 triumph.

The game unfolded with a sense of high-stakes drama as Washington initially built a commanding 17-point lead, only to witness Oregon claw their way back, briefly taking a four-point lead. However, the Huskies responded with a pivotal game-changing drive that underscored their resilience and determination.

Throughout the second half, Washington remained composed, a testament to their recent regular-season victories, where they triumphed in three consecutive one-possession games, collectively won by a mere 12 points. Oregon, on the other hand, entered the contest riding a six-game winning streak, with five of those victories secured by double-digit margins.

Michael Penix Jr., Washington’s quarterback and the game’s Most Valuable Player, showcased his prowess by passing for an impressive 319 yards and adding a touchdown to his tally. Speaking about the team’s ability to excel in close contests, Penix Jr. noted, “The love and trust we have on our team is unmatched. We’ve been doing it each and every week. We’re not going to say we want those games to be close.”

The significance of this Pac-12 Championship was underscored by the fact that it might very well be the last, as ten out of the twelve teams are set to move to different conferences in the upcoming season. Only Oregon State and Washington State will remain, tasked with preserving the conference’s rich tradition in some form.

For Washington (13-0), this victory marked their return to the College Football Playoff, their previous appearance dating back to the 2016 season. Despite being 9 1/2-point underdogs, the Huskies mounted a late surge, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to establish a 34-24 lead. Oregon (11-2) managed a late touchdown, but their hopes dwindled as they failed to recover the crucial onside kick.

Dillon Johnson, the standout running back for the Huskies, was instrumental in their success, amassing an impressive 152 rushing yards and notching two touchdowns. Two Washington receivers, Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze, both eclipsed the 100-yard mark, with McMillan making nine receptions for 131 yards, and Odunze, a Biletnikoff finalist, contributing eight catches for 102 yards in a memorable return to his hometown.

Oregon’s Bo Nix, considered a Heisman Trophy frontrunner before the game, displayed his skills by passing for 239 yards and three touchdowns while adding 69 rushing yards. Despite the disappointment of defeat, Nix acknowledged the inherent nature of competition, stating, “That’s what is the good and bad about any kind of competition is there has to be a loser. As bad as it feels, that’s why you play the game.”

If this indeed proves to be the final chapter in the Pac-12 Championship, it will be remembered as a fitting culmination, with Oregon and Washington once again engaging in a high-scoring contest characterized by big plays. The Huskies had previously won their regular-season encounter 36-33 in Seattle in October.

Washington seized an early 20-3 advantage, but Oregon mounted a spirited comeback, narrowing the deficit to 10 points with a late touchdown before halftime. The Ducks’ resurgence continued into the second half, as they converted two crucial fourth downs, culminating in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Nix to tight end Terrance Ferguson, pulling within three points. Oregon surged ahead 24-20 with 1:51 remaining in the third quarter after Jordan James’ 6-yard touchdown run.

Yet, Washington promptly countered with a scoring drive of their own. Penix connected with McMillan on a 31-yard pass to advance to Oregon’s 20-yard line, setting the stage for Johnson’s 1-yard rushing touchdown, which propelled the Huskies to a 27-24 lead they would not relinquish.

Head coach Kalen DeBoer lauded Penix’s performance, emphasizing his ability to make crucial plays when needed. DeBoer stated, “When you’ve got (Penix) right here, you give him a chance to touch the football and make plays. He’s been through it all. He’s got all these experiences to draw upon and knows when to take the risk and when not to, how to put the team on his back and keep moving.”

This encounter marked the second time both teams entered the top 10 rankings when facing each other, with the previous instance occurring earlier in the season. Washington extended their perfect record in Pac-12 Championship games to 3-0, while Oregon’s record fell to 4-2 in this prestigious contest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about College Football Playoff

What was the final score of the Washington vs. Oregon Pac-12 Championship game?

Washington emerged victorious with a final score of 34-31 against Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship.

Who were the key players in the game?

Washington’s quarterback, Michael Penix Jr., was the game’s MVP, passing for 319 yards and a touchdown. Dillon Johnson, Washington’s running back, made a significant impact with 152 rushing yards and two touchdowns. On the Oregon side, Bo Nix played a pivotal role, passing for 239 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 69 yards.

Did this victory secure Washington a spot in the College Football Playoff?

Yes, Washington’s 34-31 victory over Oregon secured them a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Why was this Pac-12 Championship game significant?

This game was potentially the last Pac-12 Championship, as ten of the twelve teams were set to move to different conferences in the upcoming season, leaving uncertainty about the future of the conference.

How did the game unfold in terms of the score?

Washington initially held a 20-3 lead, but Oregon mounted a comeback, taking a brief lead at 24-20. However, Washington responded with crucial scoring drives, ultimately securing the victory.

Were there any standout individual performances in the game?

Yes, several players had outstanding performances. Michael Penix Jr. from Washington was named the game’s MVP, and Dillon Johnson had a remarkable game with 152 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Oregon’s Bo Nix also had an impressive performance, passing for 239 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 69 yards.

Has Washington won the Pac-12 Championship before?

Yes, Washington has previously won the Pac-12 Championship, with their previous title coming in the 2016 season.

How did the previous regular-season meeting between Washington and Oregon end?

In the regular-season meeting between Washington and Oregon, the Huskies emerged victorious with a 36-33 win in Seattle in October.

More about College Football Playoff

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StatsGeek December 2, 2023 - 8:14 pm

Washngton’s Pac-12 champshp histroy’s intrestin, check it out!

SportsFan22 December 2, 2023 - 10:23 pm

great game but orgeon could have won it if they played bettr in the 4th quater!

DuckNation December 2, 2023 - 11:26 pm

Oregon gave a good fight, nxt year will be our year for sure!

FootballFreak December 3, 2023 - 7:11 am

Penix did amazin job passn and Dillon rushin, wow, just wow!


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