It’s championship week in the 2023 college football season, and the action kicked off with a monster matchup on Friday night, as No. 5 Oregon took on No. 3 Washington in the Pac-12 title game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Heisman Trophy hopefuls Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. had a prime-time stage to leave one last impressive on voters, and the rivals were likely playing for a berth in the College Football Playoff.
And the backdrop to all of this is the fact that this is the last Pac-12 game as we know it, as while the name of the conference might live on in some fashion, every school in the league — other than Oregon State and Washington State — is heading to other conferences next year. Washington and Oregon will be Big Ten Conference rivals, while their respective state rivals try to keep the Pac-12 going in some form with the help of an alliance with the Mountain West.
Earlier this season, Washington beat Oregon 36-33 in a thriller in Seattle, and this one was just as exciting. Washington built a 20-3 on Friday night, but Oregon rallied with 21 unanswered points to take the lead. From there, it was battle to the end, with Washington ultimately coming away with the victory.
Michael Penix Jr. passed for 319 yards and a touchdown, and was named player of the game.
Dillon Johnson balanced Penix with 152 yards of tough running and a pair of scores on the ground.
Now, Washington awaits a likely berth in the CFP on Sunday.
Here are the top moments!
No. 3 Washington 34, No. 5 Oregon 31
WASHINGTON WINS PAC-12 CROWN
2:14 4Q: DUCKS STRIKE BACK!
Thought this was over? Think again. Oregon went 75 yards on two plays, a 30-second drive that was capped by a 63-yard pass from Bo Nix to Traeshon Holden. Washington leads 34-31 with just over 2 minutes to go.
2:44 4Q: TOUCHDOWN, HUSKIES!
What a drive by the Huskies, who went 82 yards on 12 plays, taking a 34-24 lead with 2:44 to go on a 2-yard TD pass by Michael Penix. The drive took more than 6 minutes off the clock. Will it prove to be the dagger? If Washington wins, it will be 3-0 in Pac-12 championship games, having previously won in 2016 and 2018.
9:04 4Q: Huskies on the move
Washington forced Oregon to punt after a brief 11-yard drive, and the Huskies had a chance to take control of this back-and-forth contest.
12:26 4Q: TOUCHDOWN, HUSKIES!
Washington retook the lead with some tough running from Dillon Johnson, who scored his second TD of the game and went over the 100-yard mark in the process.
14:52 4Q: Washington catches a break
Michael Penix was ruled to have fumbled deep in Oregon territory. But on review, the call was overturned and ruled an incomplete pass, as Washington kept possession.
0:18 3Q: Huskies on the move
Washington was driving as the third quarter came to a close, setting the stage for a dramatic finish.
2:04 3Q: TOUCHDOWN, DUCKS!
Oregon took the lead on a wild sequence. First, a long scramble by Bo Nix for a 44-yard gain, which took Oregon deep into Washington territory. Then, a Nix fumble that was recovered by an Oregon lineman and initially ruled a touchdown. Nix was ruled down after a review, but Oregon scored on the next play anyway, a 6-yard run by Jordan James, to take a 24-20 lead.
3:38 3Q: Penix sacked on fourth down
Oregon came up with a huge stop on fourth down, sacking Michael Penix to turn it over and take possession on their own 38.
6:40 3Q: Penix, Nix trade interceptions
On third-and-long, Oregon brought some pressure and this time it forced a bad throw from Michael Penix. Kyree Jackson came up with the interception, and Oregon was in business.
But Bo Nix gave it right back, throwing it right to Washington’s Mishael Powell. The back-and-forth continued.
9:39 3Q: TOUCHDOWN, DUCKS!
Oregon went for it on fourth down again, this time on fourth-and-goal from the 2. Bo Nix connected with Terrance Ferguson for the second time in this game.
The Ducks have now sandwiched back-to-back scores around the halftime break to pull within 20-17.
13:34 3Q: Oregon gets aggressive
Fourth-and-5? No problem! Bo Nix connected with Troy Franklin to keep the drive alive.
0:09 2Q: TOUCHDOWN, DUCKS!
Oregon put together a huge drive before the half to pull within 20-10 on a pretty 2-yard toss from Bo Nix. The Ducks will receive the ball to start the second half. Nix has completed 11 of his last 14 passes. The drive was aided by an … interesting … pass interference penalty.
1:43 2Q: Washington tacks on a field goal
Washington went 64 yards on seven plays before Oregon held firm. Gabe Gross then nailed his second field goal to increase the Huskies’ lead to 20-3.
4:31 2Q: Penix → Odunze
Michael Penix and Rome Odunze have been one of the most dangerous combos in the nation this season. They beat double coverage on this play.
5:25 2Q: Another three-and-out for Oregon
The Washington defense has continued to make big plays, earning another stop with a nice tackle in the open field.
Note from FOX Sports research: Washington won the first matchup against Oregon this season 36-33. Regular season winners are 7-1 in rematch Pac-12 title games. The lone team to avenge its loss was Oregon in 2014 (won 51-13 vs Arizona).
6:48: TOUCHDOWN, HUSKIES!
If you’re going to blitz Michael Penix, you’d better get home, otherwise he might connect on a long pass, as he did on a 45-yard gain to Jalen McMillan. One play later, Germie Bernard scored from 4 yards out to make it 17-3.
8:49 2Q: Oregon on the board!
Oregon’s first good drive of the game covered 72 yards in 11 plays before stalling out in the red zone. A 36-yard field goal pulled Oregon within 10-3.
9:30 2Q: Troy Franklin sets a record
Oregon has put together a nice drive, with Troy Franklin making plays, including an 11-yard gain off a short pass in which he danced away from multiple defenders. That play was his 78th catch of the season, an Oregon record.
End of 1Q: Washington leads 10-0
There is a lot of football left, but the Huskies have dominated so far. Washington leads in time of possession (13:13-1:47), total plays (25-6) and total yards (117-9).
2:31: Oregon’s offense in slow motion so far
Oregon has run six offensive plays so far and has yet to earn a first down. Another drive, another punt for the Ducks.
3:46 1Q: TOUCHDOWN, HUSKIES!
A fine punt return set Washington up with a short field, and the Huskies took advantage with a six-play scoring drive. Dillon Johnson punched it in with a 6-yard run around the left end. Johnson already has 53 rushing yards on nine carries, an average of 5.8 yards per carry.
7:24 1Q: Three-and-out
The prowess of Oregon’s offense is well-documented, but Washington’s defense had a strong start. The Huskies even got a little help from an (un)official extra defender.
7:38 1Q: Huskies strike first
The Huskies put together a 15-play drive for 54 yards before Oregon came up with the stop. A 38-yard field goal put Washington up 3-0.
11:10 1Q: Close call!
Michael Penix almost tossed an interception on Washington’s opening drive, due to a miscommunication with receiver Rome Odunze.
The Pac-12 is taking over Las Vegas.
The quarterbacks arrived in style ahead of a huge moment for both of them.
Both schools released hype videos — of course — and they brought chills.
Joel Klatt offered a special goodbye message to the Pac-12.
Both teams received well-wishes ahead of the game from notable alumni Warren Moon, Kayvon Thibodeaux and more.
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