Jan 8, 2024 - Sports

Washington Huskies lose national championship to Michigan

Michael Penix Jr, the Huskies' quarterback, pulls back to throw while surrounded by Michigan players.

Michael Penix Jr. of the Washington Huskies passes during the CFP national championship game on Monday. Photo: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Washington Huskies won't enter the Big Ten conference next year as the reigning national football champions, as fans had hoped.

Yes, but: The Huskies nevertheless proved they are serious college football contenders who shouldn't be underestimated, after being billed as underdogs throughout much of the season.

Driving the news: The Huskies' 34–13 loss to Michigan in Monday's College Football Playoff national championship ended their 21-game winning streak that started last season, leaving Washington's season record at 14–1.

  • The Dawgs entered Monday's game as the No. 2 team in college football, a rank they haven't achieved in decades.
  • But the Huskies' normally explosive offense couldn't get a rhythm going against Michigan's defense, which held UW to its lowest points scored this season, including only one touchdown.
  • Heisman runner-up Michael Penix Jr., the UW quarterback, suffered an apparent injury mid-game that didn't help the Huskies' efforts to come back from behind.

The big picture: The UW brought national attention to the Pac-12 conference in the final year the league will exist as we know it.

  • Washington, Oregon, UCLA and USC are joining the Big Ten this fall, while four other Pac-12 teams are headed to the Big 12 and two are going to the ACC.
  • That leaves Washington State and Oregon State as the sole remaining members of the conference that has defined college sports on the West Coast for decades.

Between the lines: Even without a national trophy, the UW's near-perfect season is likely to be a boon for the Huskies' fall recruiting class, helping secure top high school prospects and transfer players.

  • That's important because the team will soon lose some of its stars.
  • Penix and 11 other Husky seniors are in their final year of eligibility, with no option to play another college season, the Seattle Times reports.
  • Meanwhile, Husky wide receivers Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja'Lynn Polk may depart early for the NFL draft, as could five other underclassmen, per the Times.

What's next: Probably a big raise for UW head coach Kalen DeBoer, who was recently named AP coach of the year.


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