Arrow-right Camera
Subscribe now
University of Washington Huskies Football

UW Huskies earn No. 2 seed, Sugar Bowl rematch with No. 3 Texas in College Football Playoff

Washington running back Dillon Johnson waves his arms toward the Oregon crowd after scoring his second rushing touchdown in the Huskies’ victory over the Ducks in the Pac-12 championship game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday.  (Tribune News Service)
By Mike Vorel Seattle Times

Washington (13-0) has been awarded the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff and will meet No. 3 Texas (12-1) in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, the CFP selection committee announced Sunday morning.

Big Ten champion Michigan (13-0) received the No. 1 seed and will encounter No. 4 Alabama (the 12-1 SEC champ) in the Rose Bowl. The winners will collide in Houston for the national championship game on Jan. 8.

That decision excluded No. 5 Florida State – despite the Seminoles’ undefeated 13-0 record and ACC title – as well as back-to-back national champ Georgia (12-1), which slid five spots to No. 6 after being upset by Alabama in the SEC championship game.

“I think it’s all about just enjoying the competition, being in the moment, enjoying the challenge, the opportunity that you have,” UW coach Kalen DeBoer said on ESPN’s selection show Sunday. “The mindset of just enjoying the challenge, embracing it. You know, that’s what it’s all about.”

Of course, the Huskies would have clearly preferred to play in the Rose Bowl, a superior site for fan travel purposes and convenience. According to the CFP media guide, “When assigning teams to sites, the selection committee will place the top two seeds at the most advantageous sites, weighing criteria such as convenience of travel for its fans, home-crowd advantage or disadvantage and general familiarity with the host city and its stadium. Preference will go to the No. 1 seed.”

Preference certainly went to the No. 1 seed, as Michigan avoided playing a quasi-road game against Alabama in New Orleans. Instead, UW (and its fans) were put at a distinct disadvantage against the lower-seeded Longhorns.

Said announcement comes two days after UW defeated No. 5 Oregon 34-31 in the final Pac-12 championship game, downing the Ducks for the second time this season.

Texas, meanwhile, obliterated No. 19 Oklahoma State 49-21 Saturday to win a Big 12 title and position itself for a playoff run. Longhorn quarterback Quinn Ewers completed 76.1% of his passes and threw for 452 yards and four touchdowns (with one interception) along the way.

The Huskies had a legitimate argument to secure the No. 1 spot. Their four ranked wins (over No. 5 Oregon twice, No. 15 Arizona and No. 20 Oregon State) are more than Michigan’s three (over No. 10 Penn State, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 16 Iowa). They also touted a superior strength of record and strength of schedule.

UW and Texas also met in the Alamo Bowl last December, with Washington picking up a 27-20 win. The Huskies led 27-10 in the fourth quarter, before surrendering 10 late points in what was essentially a Texas home game in San Antonio. UW quarterback Michael Penix Jr. threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Wayne Taulapapa added 108 rushing yards with 7.7 yards per carry and another score.

This also sets up a rematch with Texas coach Steve Sarkisian, who went 34-29 at Washington from 2009 to 2013 and called the rematch “kind of ironic.”

“Washington still holds a special place to me. I got my first head-coaching opportunity there and had five just tremendous years in trying to rebuild that program,” Sarkisian said on the broadcast.

“Ironically, you know, we played them in the Alamo Bowl a year ago and I think there’s some familiarity there,” he continued. “They’ve got a heck of a team. … We know we’re going to need this extra preparation to get ourselves prepared to play, but I know our kids are excited. Any time that you get an opportunity to play a team the quality of Washington, an undefeated team and Pac-12 champ, it’s a great challenge, but one we’re looking forward to.”

DeBoer echoed Sarkisian’s sentiments, and said he expects a physical rematch.

“There’s been additions to their roster, additions to our roster, but there is an understanding that hey, it’s going to be a physical football game,” DeBoer said. “They’re going to be well coached. You know, there’s playmakers in all areas that they’ll put on the football field and it’s going to be a great battle, you know, one, we’re really excited for.”