February 22, 2024

There wasn’t a single play Michael Penix Jr. couldn’t make Monday evening. When Texas blanketed his receivers, the Washington quarterback fired lasers throughout the center. When the Longhorns introduced strain, Penix peppered his checkdowns. And when he discovered his favourite weapons streaking down the sector? Penix’s volley of rainbows raced Washington additional towards the top zone.

In Washington’s 37-31 thrilling shootout win over Texas within the Sugar Bowl, Penix might have produced his magnum opus to launch the Huskies right into a nationwide championship recreation date with Michigan subsequent Monday evening.

There have been 592 first-place Heisman votes given to gamers aside from Penix. The 23-year-old performed Monday evening like he was attempting to ship private recreation tape to all 592 of these voters.

Penix accounted for over 460 complete yards (430 by the air, 31 on the bottom) on 29-of-38 passing and a pair of touchdowns. He performed each the function of orchestrator — working 5 totally different scoring drives of eight-plus performs — and magician, thrilling the New Orleans crowd with a barrage of 20-plus yard performs. Penix was named the offensive MVP of the sport, with Bralen Trice incomes the defensive honor.

He fed Rome Odunze, his season-long favourite goal, with six catches for 125 yards, every lengthy strike extra backbreaking than the final.

Penix and the Huskies offense didn’t take lengthy to heat up, as he related with Ja’Lynn Polk for a 77-yard bomb on Washington’s fourth play of the sport. Working again Dillon Johnson plowed in a 2-yard rating seconds later — the primary of Johnson’s two scores — to open the floodgates.

Polk completed with 122 yards on 5 catches and a landing.

To Texas’ credit score, the Longhorns by no means crumpled in opposition to the buzzsaw. Quarterback Quinn Ewers confronted nonstop strain from Washington’s relentless entrance seven, and when the Longhorns passer wasn’t being sacked he was usually discovering targets in all corners of the sector.

Regardless of struggling to get the ball to his star receivers Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell, Ewers completed with 318 yards on 24-of-43 passing with a landing, whereas driving the Longhorns into the crimson zone repeatedly, leading to three extra speeding scores.

However ultimately, Penix’s greatness was suffocating. Regardless of Ewers’ regular play, premature turnovers meant the Longhorns managed simply 5 offensive performs. By the point Texas received off its sixth offensive snap of the second half, Washington had racked up 13 game-swinging factors.

The thrilling second half got here on the heels of a neck-and-neck first half during which the 2 powerhouses scored three touchdowns and racked up over 500 yards earlier than the third quarter started.

Ewers and the Longhorns saved driving till the ultimate horn — placing collectively a 10-play landing drive of their very own within the fourth quarter — however ran out of time to proceed their season of future. With one second to play, the Longhorns had one closing likelihood to take the lead and stun the Huskies, however Ewers’ finish zone shot to Mitchell fell incomplete, saving Washington from an unthinkable comeback.

The wild closing drive

After a failed onside kick try, Texas’ protection received a three-and-out cease and the clock stopped with 50 seconds left when Washington’s Johnson went down with an harm. That gave the Longhorns a chance to place collectively a nine-play drive within the closing minute that went 56 yards, highlighted by a 41-yard catch by Jordan Whittington and a 16-yarder by Jaydon Blue.

Ewers received 4 pictures for a landing move within the closing 15 seconds and the Huskies’ secondary stepped up, with security Makell Esteen getting the game-saving move breakup in opposition to Mitchell on the ultimate play of the evening to clinch the Huskies’ journey to the nationwide title recreation. — Max Olson, senior school soccer author

Penix was as near good as a QB can get

Penix completed second within the Heisman Trophy race however may need received if the voting befell after the Faculty Soccer Playoff. On the most important stage of his profession, he was magnificent, throwing for 430 yards and two touchdowns on 29-of-38 passing.

His accuracy and arm expertise had been on full show all through the sport, and he started the second half by finishing his first 11 passes. The Indiana switch has been riddled with accidents all through his profession however stayed wholesome in his two seasons in Seattle after rebooting his profession by reuniting with new Washington coach and former Indiana OC Kalen DeBoer. His first move of the day was a 77-yard rainbow to Polk and that was simply the appetizer. Time after time, he escaped sacks and acquired time earlier than firing downfield. He’s been doing this all season, nevertheless it was a virtuoso efficiency with the most important viewers of his profession to place Washington on the doorstep of a nationwide title. — David Ubben, school soccer senior author

Washington was an underdog, once more, and received, once more

Texas is No. 5 within the 247Sports Workforce Expertise Composite. Washington is No. 26. However the undefeated Huskies, rankled for a month at being underdogs once more like they had been in opposition to Oregon within the Pac-12 title recreation, stayed undefeated by as soon as once more beating a extra proficient workforce. Washington, a workforce with 9 sixth-year gamers together with its quarterback, didn’t make the errors the Longhorns did to resolve the sport.

Aside from a muffed punt within the first half, they managed the large stage and a crowd that was closely pro-Texas contained in the Superdome. The Huskies had been the primary workforce to go undefeated for the reason that Pac-10 grew to become the Pac-12 and for the second time this season, received outright as an underdog away from dwelling. — Ubben

What went flawed for Texas?

Texas had just a few too many self-inflicted errors in important moments in opposition to a veteran Washington squad that didn’t make many errors. A fumble by freshman working again CJ Baxter on Texas’ first offensive play of the second half set Washington up for a simple area purpose to go up 10 factors, and one other fumble by Blue on the finish of a 33-yard catch and run killed a possession that Texas was pushing into scoring place. These takeaways by the Huskies loomed massive in what ended up being a one-score recreation.

Texas’ protection deserves credit score for getting clutch stops within the fourth quarter to offer its offense an opportunity at a game-winning drive, however its secondary had a troublesome evening in opposition to Penix and at one level let him go on a run of 12 consecutive completions and 19 of 20. Texas’ proficient D-line completed with zero sacks of Penix on the evening and solely three tackles for loss. — Olson

What’s Texas’ outlook for 2024?

Ewers has but to announce whether or not he’s returning for his junior season, however that definitely appears to be the expectation because the Longhorns’ 2023 season involves an finish. There are lots of extra key Texas gamers who’ll need to make NFL Draft selections within the subsequent few weeks, and the way these all shake out will definitely affect the upside for this program going into its debut season within the SEC.

Their 2024 schedule consists of some big-time ballgames together with a nonconference street take a look at at Michigan, a house recreation vs. Georgia and its first assembly with rival Texas A&M since 2011. Nonetheless, there’s sufficient thrilling younger expertise on this roster that the expectation going ahead for coach Steve Sarkisian and his workers after this breakthrough 12 months can be contending for the 12-team Faculty Soccer Playoff on an annual foundation, at the same time as they transfer right into a a lot harder convention. — Olson

Required studying

(Picture: Ken Murray / Icon Sportswire through Getty Photos)