Jan 2, 2024 - Sports

Longhorns come up short in College Football Playoff

A Washington defender breaks up a pass to Texas receiver Adonai Mitchell on the final play of last night's College Football Playoff Semifinal in New Orleans. Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The University of Texas was 13 yards away from a trip to the national championship game Monday night — but came up just short, losing 37-31 to the University of Washington in the Sugar Bowl.

  • It was agonizing.

Why it matters: This was the closest Texas has come to a national championship game since 2009. The Longhorns haven't won a championship since the 2005 season.

  • Washington last won a national title outright in 1960. They split a championship with the University of Miami in 1991.

What happened: Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. diced up the Texas defense from the opening drive. The Huskies had more than 300 yards of offense in the first half alone, but at halftime the game was tied 21-21.

  • Washington continued the onslaught in the second half, taking a 13-point lead by the end of the third quarter.
  • The Longhorns brought the game to within a touchdown and had the ball on the Huskies' 13 in the game's final seconds.

Yes, but: Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers threw an incomplete pass as the clock ticked to zeroes.

Catch up fast: Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian has revived the vaunted football program. The Longhorns were 12-1 coming into the game, ranked third in the nation.

  • Washington was undefeated, ranked second.

Context: Amid tectonic shifts in the college football landscape, both teams will move to new conferences starting next season.

  • Texas will leave the Big 12 to join the SEC. Washington is leaving the PAC 12 and joining the Big Ten.

By the numbers: Penix finished the game with a whopping 430 yards passing and two touchdowns.

  • Ewers threw for 318 yards and one touchdown.
  • Texas had 10 penalties, twice as many as Washington.

Between the lines: Though the Sugar Bowl was played in New Orleans, a neutral site, the game was essentially a Texas home game, with Longhorn supporters outnumbering Huskies fans at least 6 to 1.

  • Throughout the game, the stadium regularly erupted into cheers of "TEXAS! FIGHT!"

The curse: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was spotted at the game. Cruz was blamed by some Houston Astros fans for "jinxing" the team when they lost the American League Championship Series to the Rangers in October.

  • Cruz was also blamed when the Houston Rockets were eliminated from playoff contention during a game he attended in 2018.

Meanwhile: The University of Michigan beat the University of Alabama 27-20 in overtime in the Rose Bowl earlier in the day.

What's next: Washington will play Michigan for a national championship Monday in Houston.

  • Texas fans will have to settle for a great final season in the Big 12 — even if it ended earlier than they hoped.
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