The Pac-12 Championship Game saw Oregon take the field as 9.5-point favorites against Washington, even though the Huskies beat the Ducks earlier this season. Now, that 36-33 thriller was on Washington’s home turf, but why they were such big underdogs in Friday’s matchup, I’ll never really know.
That’s not some hindsight 20-20 BS either. I mean, the Huskies had a perfect record and a College Football Playoff berth to protect. Never mind the conference title of it all in the last Pac-12 game ever.
Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was evidently hellbent like Josh McDaniels on Jimmy Gto not let his team lose this one. The sixth-year senior signal-caller was holding the hardware in the end, and had a little something to say about it:
"They tried to write us off, but we ain't write back" ✍️
We saw DeAndre Hopkins reference Geno Smith earlier in the NFL season. Now, Penix pays respect to his fellow Seattle-area QB in the biggest moment of his football-playing life to date. You love to see it.
To be fair, this particular Oregon-Washington tilt wasn’t necessarily decided by the quarterback duel between Penix and his counterpart Bo Nix. Both are expected to be mid-to-late first-round prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Huskies got a decided edge thanks to the prowess of tailback Dillon Johnson, who ran behind a mauling o-line for 28 carries, 152 yards, two TDs, and the game-icing run that denied Nix a final possession to possibly force overtime.
Johnson has apparently been fighting through nicks and bruises and various ailments throughout the season. He was exhausted by the end of Friday’s triumph, but hey, he got the job done for his team and then some.
Conference Championship Saturday will determine who Washington meets in the CFP semifinals. If the current rankings held, the Huskies would take on Michigan in a 2 vs. 3 clash. Considering Iowa is widely expected not to score in the first half against the Wolverines, pretty safe to assume Jim Harbaugh and Co. will roll to the Big Ten title. Georgia has to take care of business against Alabama in an epic SEC showdown to maintain the No. 1 spot.
But let’s give it up for Michael Penix Jr. for a minute. He’s battled all kinds of injury-induced adversity to get to this point. The southpaw throws one of the prettiest footballs you’ll ever see. Total leader to his core. Baller. Can’t wait to see Penix show out on even bigger stages here soon in the CFP and in the NFL.