Washington vs. Michigan: Huskies weather first-half storm to stay close
Washington enters the halftime break of the College Football Playoff National Championship trailing Michigan 17-10.
As bad a first-half showing as it looked through the first 20 or so minutes, things flipped dramatically late in the second quarter.
Michael Penix Jr. missed throws he hasn’t missed, really, at any other point this season. He and Rome Odunze weren’t on the same page, and it cost Washington a touchdown in a crucial spot in the second quarter. The Husky defense struggled to fit against the run and Michigan just gashed them early.
The story for much of the first half was written on first down, where Michigan averaged 9.7 yards a play and 11.1 yards a run. Nine runs on 14 plays, and Washington simply could not stop it.
But then something flipped in the second quarter. Michigan decided, for some reason, to let quarterback JJ McCarthy drop back and air out the ball.
In the first quarter, Michigan ran it nine times for 174 yards and McCarthy completed three of his four passes for 55 yards. With Washington committed to trying to stop the run, McCarthy was able to hit a ball over the top for 37 yards on a drive that ended in a score.
In the second quarter, UW fit better and Michigan happily left the door open for the Huskies. Michigan threw eight times and McCarthy missed on six of them. McCarthy started 3-for-3 and missed seven of his last nine throws.
No incompletion was bigger than a fourth-and-3 throw that UW linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio broke up on the sideline with less than five minutes to play. Ulofoshio was showing blitz on the play before dropping out and covering the flat. The speed to close on the ball and knock it loose was impressive, and it proved to be pretty consequential.
— Video from: @TSV__1 (@TSV__1) January 9, 2024
Washington took over at its own 38 with 4:43 to play, trailing 17-13. The Huskies then put together an 11-play, 61-yard drive over four minutes that ended with a touchdown throw from Penix to Jalen McMillan on fourth-and-goal from the Michigan 3.
WASHINGTON ANSWERS BEFORE THE HALF 🔥
— ESPN (@espn) January 9, 2024
Throughout the season, we’ve seen Washington find ways to hang around when it didn’t have its best. And when the Huskies are finally able to get things rolling, the tenor of the game flips drastically.
Penix ended the half 13-for-21 passing for 128 yards. Odunze was targeted six times, but brought in just three receptions for 35 yards.
Washington has made a habit of making winning plays in tight games. Will we see more of the same in the second half, when the Huskies start with the football?