Washington beat Texas 37-31 in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl on Monday night, clinching a spot in the CFP National Championship where it will face Michigan.

The Huskies extended their nation-leading winning streak to 21 games as Michael Penix Jr. and the pass game shredded the Texas secondary for most of the evening.

When Penix and a number of his teammates turned down an opportunity to jump to the NFL last offseason, they did so with the belief they could come back and lead UW to a national championship. They talked about winning No. 3. They believed they had what it took to not just win the Pac-12, but win it all.

Every step of the way, Washington was doubted. Every step of the way, Washington rose above.

The Huskies went into the Sugar Bowl as an underdog. They’ll likely be an underdog to Michigan in the national title game.

So far, though, fourteen games have yielded fourteen wins.

One left to go.

Here are three takeaways from the 14th.

Washington’s offense is inevitable

I just have no idea how a defense stops Washington for four quarters.

Someone needs to call up Arizona State and ask what happened, because the Sun Devils were the only ones all season who were able to hold this pass game under wraps. Michael Penix Jr. doesn’t miss. The Husky receivers don’t drop balls. There is no window too tight that Washington’s pass game can’t exploit.

When a player catches this kind of ball, what exactly is a defense supposed to do?

That play went for 52 yards. It was one of nine explosive pass plays for the Huskies in the game. The Texas secondary looked suspect heading into the matchup, and Washington just did whatever it wanted against the group.

If it was going to have a chance against Penix, Texas needed to do what no one else had done this season — sack Penix.

The vaunted interior of the Texas defensive line — Byron Murphy II and T’Vondre Sweat — combined to produce 0.5 tackles for loss, no sacks, and no quarterback hurries. Not only did Texas not sack Penix a single time in the game, Texas didn’t sniff Penix.

You simply cannot let UW sit back and pick your secondary apart, regardless of how good your secondary is. Washington’s receiving trio of Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk, and Jalen McMillan is a better receiving corps than what the Kansas City Chiefs have; if you just took the top three Husky wideouts and dropped them onto the Chiefs’ roster, they’d be the top three guys.

Odunze had 125 yards on six catches. Polk had 122 yards and a touchdown on five catches. McMillan had 58 yards and a touchdown.

Penix rarely missed, completing 29 of his 38 passes for 430 yards. He fired passes into windows that simply did not make sense.

The last time the Huskies were an underdog, they faced Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship. Everyone (myself included) said Oregon looked like the better team in the three-point loss to UW during the regular season, and Oregon would prove in the rematch it was the better team. The difference in the Pac-12 title game? Washington’s receivers were flat better than anyone Oregon lined up across from them. UW’s passing game was just better.

That was the case again on Monday night. Washington’s receivers are just better. The Husky pass game has yet to face its equal. And Washington is marching on to the national championship because of it.

Texas just gave the game away

Ten penalties for 66 yards. (Eleven if you count the declined offsides penalty on a UW field goal in the fourth quarter.) The yardage wasn’t exactly killer. The volume of penalties was. The kind of penalties were inexcusable in a Playoff game.

Texas lined up offsides on the second-half kickoff. It was called for an illegal snap and an illegal shift. It was called for holding twice.

Texas just couldn’t get out of its own way. It faced an average of 9.5 yards to go on its third-down attempts and struggled to string together successful first-down plays for most of the evening. That’s while Washington averaged nearly 9 yards a play on first down.

The third quarter was an absolute mess from the Longhorns, who were outgained 157-34 in the frame. Texas ran five plays to Washington’s 22 in the third quarter. Texas had the ball for just 2:21, gained only one first down, and fumbled the football away on its opening possession of the half.

When Texas took over 17 seconds into the fourth quarter, trailing 34-21, it needed a drive. The Longhorns got 5 yards, then 15, then 7. Jaydon Blue then broke a second-and-3 play for 33 yards well into UW territory, but he ran into his own blocker and dislodged the football.

There was just no rhythm to be found anywhere through the first three quarters. And Texas put itself in too deep a hole to claw out of against too talented an offense.

An injury to Dillon Johnson on UW’s final drive preserved time on the clock for Texas to attempt one last-gasp march. When UW ran into the punt return man and then gave up a 41-yard pass to put Texas right on the edge of the red zone, Husky fans everywhere held their breath and braced against the worst.

But Washington — as it has done all season — came up with just enough plays to scrape by with a victory.

Washington made key plays in huge spots. The secondary was strong to begin the game. Bralen Trice was excellent, coming up with three tackles for loss and two sacks. He also forced one of the two Texas fumbles.

Then, at the very end, Mishael Powell came screaming off the edge on a third down to force an incompletion before Elijah Jackson batted away a fourth-down pass on the very final play of the game.

Grady Gross deserves some love

In the earlier semifinal game at the Rose Bowl, Michigan beat Alabama in overtime despite a ghastly showing on special teams. Michigan muffed a punt, it didn’t punt the ball well itself, and it missed a pair of kicks.

Washington stalled out several times in Texas territory on Monday. But the Huskies didn’t have to play it ultra-aggressive and chase points. Grady Gross supplied Kalen DeBoer with some confidence and went out each time and calmly knocked through his kicks.

Gross hit from 26 yards, 27 yards, and 40 yards. He kicked a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter that helped keep UW ahead and, after some inexplicable late-game miscues, proved to be massive kicks.

The offense slowed a bit in the fourth, with just 65 yards on 14 plays. Washington got a little cute after a fumble recovery and wasn’t able to put the hammer down. It fell a bit out of rhythm in the final frame. But Gross scored the Huskies’ final nine points and that shouldn’t be overlooked.