Powered by unique veteran presence, Washington eyes national title after latest clutch showing in Sugar Bowl


NEW ORLEANS — In the wake of No. 2 Washington’s dramatic 37-31 win over No. 3 Texas in the Sugar Bowl, a victory that set up the Huskies to play for the College Football Playoff National Championship against No. 1 Michigan on Monday, it’s impossible to ignore the unique run this team has been on throughout the 2023 season. 

No other team in college football’s modern era has won 10 consecutive games decided by 10 points or less. Even teams that have a tendency for drama or bear something resembling the “clutch gene” don’t consistently come out on top week after week like the Huskies. It’s a unique roster that we may never see again, with six sixth-year seniors and veteran presence throughout the depth chart that has allowed Washington to be led by the players. 

That leadership starts with star quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who had one of the most prolific performances in College Football Playoff history with 430 yards passing against the Longhorns. On the eve of the Huskies CFP semifinal matchup with the Longhorns, Penix assembled the team to deliver a message in advance of the program’s first playoff appearance since 2016. 

“I don’t know what the meeting was about, but he asked to get the guys together,” Washington coach Kalen DeBoer explained after the win. “I think just sharing his mind, sharing his heart. Certainly, as a leader of this football team, those guys respond, and you saw that today. Those guys play with a passion, and it starts with No. 9 right here.”

DeBoer said Penix was on “another level” all month leading up to the game, setting a standard in practice that let the Huskies coach know his star signal-caller was going to do everything possible to find a way to win. All of Washington’s coaches and players have pointed…

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Author : Chip Patterson

Publish date : 2024-01-02 15:13:17

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