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Washington Huskies make the College Football National Championship

University of Washington’s football program made their first national championship game since 1991, before falling to the University of Michigan
Sam Nocera
The Huskies took on the Michigan Wolverines in the National Championship game but fell short in the end.

The UW finished their season with a 34-13 loss in the national title game. While many people were critical of the season’s ending and the way Washington lost in the final game, the process and run which the Huskies were able to
accomplish was shocking in itself. Last season, the Huskies finished with a 11-2 record. Heading into this season, it’s safe to say their fans did not exactly predict a breakout season. Taking the world by storm, the Huskies went 13-0
during the regular season, winning many of their games in close, gut-wrenching battles.
Many students had been following the playoff run and were thrilled with the results, one of them being
junior Caleb Bolan. “It was an extremely successful season, I expected around 10 to 11 wins going in but didn’t
think they’d get a natty berth,” Bolan said. “I was extremely but pleasantly surprised at how well they
did but I knew they had the potential to pull that off at the beginning of the year.” One of the main surprises of the season was the Huskies breakout star quarterback (QB) Michael Penix Jr. who finished the season second in Heisman voting, and now will head into the NFL Draft where he hopes to be selected within the first round. Penix
finished the season with 4,903 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, leading the team
to a perfect regular season record and taking the Huskies to the coveted national championship game.
“I feel that I had more faith in Penix than most national media outlets,” Bolan said. “I always believed he was a top QB and a heisman contender, most media didn’t give him that praise.” Forming a dynamic duo through the air with
Penix Jr. was 21-year-old wide receiver Rome Odunze. Odunze led the team in receiving with 92 catches, 1640 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, and will also head into the NFL draft alongside his college QB.
During the process of the season, there were many hard-fought nail biting games where the Huskies came out victorious. In week six, the Huskies hosted the Oregon Ducks, where they won 36-33 off a missed field goal. In one of the most exhilarating games of the season, Penix Jr. threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Similarly, to clinch their national championship game berth, the Huskies beat the Texas Longhorns 37-31, in a game which came down to the final drive. Penix Jr. threw for 430 yards and two touchdowns, leading the way in the Sugar Bowl.
“My favorite moments were definitely the home win against Oregon and the Sugar Bowl win against Texas,” Bolan said. “Obviously I was extremely excited to see them play in the national championship, they were all incredible to watch.” Following the College Football National championship game, UW head coach Kalen DeBoer left the school to replace NCAA all-time coach Nick Saban at the University of Alabama. Replacing DeBoer is former Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch, who led his Wildcats to a 10-3 record (third best in PAC-12), and capped the season off with an
impressive 38-24 victory over the then-ranked #12 University of Oklahoma Sooners to win the Valero Alamo bowl.
Many fans were upset by the supposed betrayal of DeBoer, after he had just led the squad to a National
Championship berth. “I understand why he made the move, [but] I think he could’ve been a bit more open-minded,”
Bolan said. “He could’ve given the program another chance after coming so close to winning.” One of the biggest things that UW achieved during their playoff run was creating a positive community and connected fanbase.
“I met a lot of new people through UW football, there was a group of shared fans and it helped build a great community,” Bolan said. “I was sad of course when they lost, but I believe it was still a historic year for the program and something to build upon, especially in the community and fanbase.” Despite losing many of their spotlight players and their head coach, the Huskies will hope to rally and be back in this same position next year.
“Of course they’ll be back with coach Fisch and Will Rogers next year,” Bolan said. “I believe they can win nine to 10 games next year if everything goes well.”

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