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See you at the Rose Bowl! Huskies smother Utes for Pac-12 Championship: Reactions

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The Huskies win a slug fest 10-3 without scoring an offensive touchdown.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Conference Championship-Utah vs Washington Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

THE HUSKIES ARE GOING TO THE ROSE BOWL OMG OMG OMG BYRON MURPHY!

It’s no surprise that this game was a slog given the two defenses and each team’s inconsistent offenses. From the start, the Huskies went to Gaskin early and had moderate success moving the ball. Washington’s most consistent receiver early on was Andre Baccellia who used his speed for first down yardage on screens. But as has happened most of the season, the offense stalled in the red zone. Washington went for it on a 4th and 5 in the 1st quarter and couldn’t convert, forgoing the option for a 42 yard field goal. Jake Browning typically had time in the pocket but Utah’s defense did a great job in coverage and didn’t allow any explosive plays. Trick plays and misdirection by the Huskies were routinely snuffed out, in both halves. Washington finally got on the board with a Peyton Henry 29 yard field goal late in the 2nd quarter.

Utah’s fortunes on offense were even worse. While the Huskies could at least move the ball somewhat, Utah wasn’t getting yards on the ground and Jason Shelley didn’t know where to go with the ball when he dropped back. The Huskies sent Myles Bryant and Taylor Rapp a lot on blitzes early. They didn’t cross the 50 yard until about 1 minute left in the half and both teams went into the locker rooms with UW leading 3-0.

Utah started the 3rd quarter with the ball and all of sudden found an offense. Jason Shelley hit open receivers downfield and took advantage of Washington’s blitzes. An Elijah Molden missed tackle led to a big gain for Utah WR Jaylen Dixon, but a few plays later Joe Tryon batted down a pass and forced Utah into a 4th down. Utah K Matt Gay scraped the back of the goal post on his 53 yard field goal, just squeezing it through. Game tied, 3-3. Washington’s ensuing drive ended yet again in frustration, as Chris Petersen seemed to not trust Peyton Henry and preferred to go for it on 4th and 12. Again, turnover on downs.

When the Utes got the ball, it looked like they might take the lead the way they were moving the ball and playing physically. Then Byron Murphy happened. A Shelley pass hit a falling Ute receiver who bounced the ball back up into the waiting arms of Murphy who took the ball to the house to make it 10-3. It was actually the 2nd foot-ception of the game, as the Utes corralled a ball that Ty Jones deflected off his leg in the first half.

With the game at 10-3, Utah started getting more aggressive and the Huskies took advantage. Right after a pass interference call against him, Jordan Miller came down with an interception, killing the Utah drive. The Huskies then went on their longest drive of the night from the late 3rd quarter and through most of the 4th. Yet again they drove the ball but didn’t score as Utah blocked Peyton Henry’s 38 yard field goal. Another Byron Murphy pick gave the ball back to the Huskies, who again promptly punted. Utah had 3 minutes to tie the game with a TD, and on a 4th and 15 on Washington’s side of the field, the pass fell incomplete after Byron Murphy got his hand on the ball.

PAC-12 CHAMPION DOTS:

  • The MVP naturally went to Byron Murphy. He had the play of the game and Washington’s only defensive touchdown of the season on what I’m sure will be dubbed the “immaculate interception 2.0”. He had a second interception later in the half and broke up the final play of the game on Utah’s 4th and long desperation pass which would have been completed if he wasn’t there. That’s Washington’s 2nd DB winning the MVP award in this game (Taylor Rapp in 2016).
  • Backups or not, holding to Utah to under 100 yards rushing is a huge feat. All in all, they mustered 51 yards on the ground compared to 119 for the Dawgs.
  • Kickoffs weren’t as much of an issue this game but getting a short field goal blocked is another black mark on the Husky’s special teams unit this year.
  • Despite an overall rough night for the offense, Andre Baccellia had 8 catches for 65 yards with nice gains on crossing routes.
  • Not a huge night for Myles Gaskin but he had 71 tough yards and at least a few 3rd conversions finding the space for a crucial yard or two. He was huge in Washington’s late 3rd quarter/4th quarter dive that took around 10 minutes off the clock.
  • Shout out to the defensive line for completely shutting down Utah’s run game tonight. I don’t think they had a sack but they occupied Utah’s OL for the linebackers to make tackles.
  • Real nice for Keith Taylor too. He covered well and made a huge TFL on a Utah screen. Hell, all the DBs came up huge in this one. Jordan Miller shook off a PI call and came down with a pick the next play. He had a TFL earlier too. Myles Bryant had a sack and Taylor Rapp provided numerous pressures.
  • I guess Jake Browning avoided a truly catastrophic mistake but had two interceptions early bounce off Utah defender’s hands. The pass that actually did get picked was probably his best of the night to that point, that went off Ty Jones’ hands. He did have a couple first down pick ups with his legs, though.
  • Washington out gained Utah 306-188 and won the possession battle 38:32 to 21:28. It was the Byron Murphy big plays that made all the difference.
  • Lots more to discuss in the coming days, but for now, let’s be happy that the Huskies are 10-3, have won the Pac-12 for the second time in three years, and are going to their 3rd straight NY6 Bowl Game. And that game just so happens to be the FREAKING Rose Bowl.