In the end, the Huskies were able to outlast the Utah Utes 10-3, in a defensive battle where both offenses couldn’t score.
From the start, it was clear that both teams were trying to set the tone and impose their will on defense.
On the opening drive of the game, the Huskies drove the ball 52 yards on 13 plays and came away with zero points.
The Utes defense had the bend but don’t break mentality and were stout all night long in the red zone.
The clear-cut game plan for Utah was to sell out and stop the run and force Husky quarterback Jake Browning to throw the ball.
Browning played a smart and efficient game overall and finished with a stat line of 21 of 33 for 187 yards and 0 TD’s.
Offensively, the Huskies were able to move the ball on the Utes but the red zone inefficiency came back to haunt them again.
Credit goes to Utah, they were sound defensively and had a great game plan to slow down the Huskies running game.
It was tough sledding for Husky senior running back Myles Gaskin ,as he finished with a hard-earned 71 yards on 23 carries.
It wasn’t the most exciting game in the first half, with defense being the storyline, and offensive drives stalling.
The Huskies finally broke through at the end of the first half with a 29-yard FG, taking the lead 3-0 at halftime.
On the opening play of the second half, Utah wide receiver Britain Covey injured his knee on the kickoff return and did not return to the game.
Coming into the second half, Utah had the ball first and found a way to answer with a score of their own, gaining some momentum.
Utah field goal kicker Matt Gay, who is regarded as a top field goal kicker in the nation, connected on a 53-yard field goal.
The score was tied 3-3 with a good old fashioned slugfest going back and forth with both teams looking to take the advantage.
That game changing play came towards the end of the third quarter, as Husky sophomore cornerback Byron Murphy picked off Utah quarterback Jason Shelley.
Murphy was able to keep his concentration when the ball bounced off Utah receiver Siaosi Mariner, as he fell to the ground, popping the ball straight up.
“As soon as the ball came in, I knew I had to get my hands on it and get the pick-six,” Murphy said after the game.
What ensued was Murphy running the ball back to the house for a TD and changing the entire complexion of the game!
“It’s one of those plays that, ‘How does that happen?’” UW head coach Chris Petersen said.
In the fourth quarter, the Huskies were able to take control of the clock, and reel off a drive that lasted 10:03 minutes.
The Huskies tried to convert a 38-yard field goal but Peyton Henry‘s attempt was blocked and the Utes still had some life left to them.
Utah didn’t run their first offensive play of the fourth quarter until there was 5:10 left in the game, which was remarkable.
Down the stretch the Huskies made one more game changing play with another interception by Byron Murphy.
The Huskies offense stalled on the following drive, and had to punt the ball back to Utah with 3:24 left on the clock.
Defensively, the Huskies had to get one more stop to secure the win and they got it as they stopped Utah on downs with 27 seconds left.
Browning took a knee and the rest was history, as the Washington Huskies won the Pac-12 Championship Game, the second conference title in three years.
“We’re going to enjoy this one and get ready for the Rose Bowl! It was a pretty special game and a pretty special team to bounce back from what we went through and end our season on top of the Pac-12.” Browning said afterwards.
The Husky defense was “lights out” all night and entirely shut down the Utes offense all night long. The suffocating defense held Utah to 188 total yards of offense the entire night.
“That is what championship defense looks like, and I’m damn glad they’re on my side.” Senior right tackle Kaleb McGary said after the game.
Byron Murphy was named the MVP of the game with his two game changing interceptions. It was the second time that a Husky defensive back was named MVP of the Pac-12 Championship game, as junior defensive back Taylor Rapp won the award two years ago, as a true freshman.
Being crowned champions of the Pac-12 was an incredible cap to the end of the season for the Huskies, as they finished 4-0 in their last four games.
Rose Bowl bound after an 18-year drought! Music to the ears of Husky Nation! Incredible night for the Husky Football team! Much deserved!!
“The actual Rose Bowl is going to be pretty sweet! We’re excited to go back down to Pasadena. It’s where this program belongs.” Senior linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven said.
Next up for the Huskies (10-3 overall, 8-2 in-conference), is a matchup against Big Ten Conference winner (TBD) in the Rose Bowl Game on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California. Kickoff will commence at 2:00pm PST.
Below is a Pac-12 Championship Highlights Video….