College Football Winners and Losers from Week 14

College Football Winners and Losers from Week 14

Washington coach Kalen DeBoer celebrates with the trophy after the team's win over Oregon in the Pac-12 championship NCAA college football game Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

AP Photo/David Becker

Washington punched its ticket to the College Football Playoff in grand fashion—somehow squeezing out its second three-point victory over Oregon this year, 34-31, in an epic Pac-12 title game showdown.

Coach Kalen DeBoer embraced Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Michael Penix Jr. at midfield afterward, a touching moment following a career that saw the signal-caller suffer four season-ending injuries. Now, he’s got the opportunity to be a title winner.

The unbeaten Huskies were double-digit underdogs this go-round against the Ducks. Throughout the last half of the season following the narrow win over Oregon on October 14, they’d walked plenty of tight ropes.

Single-digit victories over lowly Arizona State and Stanford, tough shootout wins over USC and Utah and nail-biters over Oregon State and Washington State left many questioning the Huskies. Meanwhile, Dan Lanning’s Ducks were steamrolling teams.

But Washington proved it’s worthy of college football’s final four. After blowing an early 17-point lead, the Huskies out-toughed the Ducks.

DeBoer’s team grinded out a 10-play, 75-yard drive to pull ahead 27-24 after they’d fallen behind for the first time. While Penix was the catalyst, running back Dillon Johnson’s four crucial carries for 15 yards and the go-ahead score set the tone.

Penix and Johnson again played pivotal roles in a 12-play, 82-yard drive that masterfully whittled off 6:20 from the clock and gave the Huskies a 10-point advantage. After a quick-strike Ducks TD made it a three-point game, Johnson willed the Huskies to run out the clock.

“They gave me everything,” DeBoer told ABC of his offensive line afterward.

While Penix will get the headlines for out-dueling Bo Nix in a Heisman Trophy grudge match, throwing for 319 yards and a score, Johnson added 152 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Huskies proved the more physical, battle-tested team.

“We just continued to believe that, you know, we have what it takes, and that’s all we need,” Penix told ABC after the game. “We just had to go out there and execute, and that’s what we were able to do at the end of the game.”

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