Gold: Key takeaways from Sunday's CFP Alamo Bowl rematch announcement
Talk about an idle W.
The Washington Huskies’ 34-31 Pac-12 Championship Game win over No. 5 Oregon was almost always certainly going to guarantee the conference title winner a College Football Playoff spot.
But then Georgia had to go and lose to Alabama, and now the Huskies are up to No. 2 in the final CFP ranking, set to square off with the No. 3 Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
The Huskies getting Texas instead of Alabama is an absolute gift from the college football gods pic.twitter.com/CfL2uN4inJ
— George Jarjour (@GeorgeOnTap) December 3, 2023
Here my key takeaways from the Huskies’ big day…
Huskies set for a Texas Two-Step
The stakes are unfathomably higher, but Washington and Texas are now set to square off in the postseason for the second straight season.
Last year, the Huskies beat a Bijan Robinson-less Longhorns squad in the Alamo Bowl, 27-20, as Michael Penix Jr. and Quinn Ewers had an epic showdown. Ewers had 369 passing yards and a touchdown while Penix had 287 yards, 2 scores, and 1 interception in the win, which went down to the wire after Texas made a game of it late.
After Washington went up 27-10 early in the 4th quarter on a Penix-to-Jalen McMillan touchdown connection, Texas scored 10 straight points to avoid the blowout.
Healthy Huskies ready to roll
Speaking of McMillan: The difference between “playing” and “fully healthy” was evident in the win over Oregon. Really, the difference between just one game to the next was startling.
McMillan, who has been banged up for much of the season — rendering the Huskies vaunted trio, with McMillan joined by Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk, an afterthought — looked like he was back in business on Friday night.
After catching just 5 passes for 26 yards in the Huskies’ Apple Cup win over Washington State — his most action in weeks — went for 131 yards on 9 catches against the Ducks.
His return added a huge downfield element to the Washington passing attack.
Rather play Texas or Alabama? It’s a toss-up.
The CFP committee couldn’t sideline an undefeated Power 5 champion, could they? Turns out, yeah, Florida State is out and Bama is in.
The Huskies were geared up to potentially play the Seminoles in the semifinals, presuming they would move up to No. 3 from their previous No. 4 ranking.
Alas, Jordan Travis’ season-ending injury — compounded by backup Tate Rodemaker’s absence on Saturday in the Noles’ 16-6 win over Louisville in the ACC title game — kicked them out of the playoff completely.
So now there really is no layup. It was thought that Michigan might be the big victor with what would’ve been the breeziest semifinal matchup.
Can Huskies shut down Quinn Ewers?
The Texas quarterback took his game to another level this season, but he was arguably at his best in Texas’ convincing 49-21 Big 12 Championship Game win over Oklahoma State.
Ewers went 35-of-46 for 452 yards and 4 touchdowns with one pick in the big win, matching his career high for passing touchdowns and demolishing his previous yardage high.
With the sensational Robinson off to the NFL, the Longhorns turned to the pass more often this year but still managed to rush for nearly 190 yards per game.
The Roses are dying
In some ways, it’s downright depressing that we were robbed of what could have been an iconic Rose Bowl matchup — and a fantastic preview of things to come in the Big Ten.
But if you’re Washington, are you really complaining?
The Huskies avoid arguably the top defense in the country, but fans miss out on one last classic Rose Bowl between the Pac-12’s best and the B1G’s brightest.
Huskies could have their hands full in the red zone
Texas’ biggest strength might just be its red zone defense. The Longhorns allowed just 25-of-35 opposing red zone scoring opportunities, including only 16 scores.
The red zone has been a bit of a weakness for Washington, as well. Despite a vaunted and high-powered offense, the Huskies ranked 8th in the league in red zone offense this year. Washington converted 49 of its 58 opportunities.