Washington vs. Oregon score: Huskies fight back to win Pac-12 title, clinch College Football Playoff berth

No. 3 Washington held on to win a wild Pac-12 Championship Game, storming back to defeat No. 5 Oregon 34-31 on Friday. The win not only gives the Huskies the final Pac-12 football title, but it clinches the program's second College Football Playoff berth (2016) as they improve to 13-0 on the season.

The Huskies started hot out the gate, jumping to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and dominating on both sides of the ball. However, the Ducks fought their way back into the game, cutting the deficit to 20-10 at halftime and scoring the first 14 points of the second half to take a 24-20 lead. It was the only lead they'd have in the game, however.

Washington quickly answered with a touchdown drive of its own. Then, after getting a defensive stop, the Huskies put together a 12-play, 82-yard touchdown drive that gave the Huskies a two-score lead and melted nearly half half the fourth quarter away. The Ducks scored a quick touchdown to cut the lead back to three, but the Huskies salted away the rest of the clock after recovering an onside kick.

Running back Dillon Johnson was the star of the game for the Huskies. He rushed for 152 yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground, while also throwing a touchdown for good measure. Michael Penix Jr. finished with 319 yards passing with a touchdown.

Oregon's Bo Nix finished with 239 yards passing, 69 yards rushing and three touchdowns, but his third-quarter interception proved costly. It came after a Penix interception at a time the Ducks had all the momentum, but it was quickly lost with the turnover.

  • Washington is now 7-0 in one-score games. No other team in the country has won more than four one-score games without at least one loss.
  • This is the ninth straight game in which Washington has played amid a one-score deficit in the fourth quarter.
  • Washington will return to the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2016 when it won the Pac-12 and lost a semifinal to Alabama.
  • This was Washington's third appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game. It's won all three.
  • Johnson's 152 rushing yards are his second-highest total in a game this season. He rushed for 256 against USC.
  • Nix's 239 passing yards were the fewest he's had in any game this season. The previous low was 248 yards in a 35-6 win over Utah.

Keep it locked here as CBS Sports provides takeaways from the 2023 Pac-12 Championship Game below. 

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Washington first to clinch College Football Playoff berth

The Huskies got it done Saturday night in the Pac-12 Championship Game, completing a season sweep of the Ducks, capturing their conference title and clinching a spot in the College Football Playoff. Washington entered the game No. 3 in the CFP Rankings and will end the season no lower than that come Selection Sunday.

There is an argument to be made that Washington should be ahead of Michigan for No. 2. The Huskies have played a better schedule and have better wins this season, even if the Wolverines beat No. 16 Iowa on Saturday in the Big Ten Championship Game.

However, the CFP Selection Committee has not been impressed with the Huskies' relatively close wins this season. Their last nine wins have come by 10 points or less, and Washington's seven one-score victories are the most in the FBS this season. By comparison, Michigan is the No. 1 team nationally in scoring margin.

Ultimately, it is unlikely for the committee to make this move. If No. 1 Georgia and Michigan both win their conference titles, Washington will sit No. 3 in the CFP field.

Check out the playoff paths for the remaining seven teams in contention.

College Football Playoff, bowl projections: Scenarios for five contenders in the hunt for four-team field
Jerry Palm
College Football Playoff, bowl projections: Scenarios for five contenders in the hunt for four-team field
December 2, 2023, 4:58 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 11:58 pm EST
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I will miss the Pac-12

I am not a fan of what conference and playoff expansion is doing to college football, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop enjoying the sport or stop watching it. But while I'm not going anywhere, that doesn't mean I'm not going to miss the Pac-12.

I will. While it hasn't been a dominant league as far as the national title picture is concerned, it has typically been one of the most entertaining leagues in the sport since its inception. The parity that so many college football fans claim they want in the sport has always been a part of the Pac-12, yet not enough people paid attention.

In the end, that was the league's downfall. While the schools that are leaving for greener pastures will continue playing football and new rivalries will develop, I can't help but believe the league dissolving will only hurt the sport on the West Coast.

Goodbye, Pac-12. You deserved far better than what you got.

December 2, 2023, 5:12 AM
Dec. 02, 2023, 12:12 am EST
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Bo Nix's Heisman case came to an end tonight

Honestly, I don't know how strong Nix's Heisman chances actually were, but there's no denying he had a great chance to improve his odds with a strong game -- preferably in an Oregon win -- in Las Vegas. Neither happened. Nix threw for three touchdowns and didn't play poorly, but he picked a bad time to have his lowest passing output of the season considering the entire country was watching.

The question now becomes whether Penix did enough to sway voters to his side? Penix's final stat line wasn't incredible, but we can't ignore the fact some voters will refuse to vote for LSU's Jayden Daniels simply because LSU has too many losses in their eyes.

I'm not taking a side here, just stating facts about how the voting process works. It's not always about who had the best season. Sometimes, it's who played the best at the end on the best team.

December 2, 2023, 5:08 AM
Dec. 02, 2023, 12:08 am EST
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Dillon Johnson was the best player on the field

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. won the Pac-12 Championship Game MVP award, but as well as Penix played (exceptionally well), the wrong player was honored. Running back Dillon Johnson is the player who deserved it. Johnson not only ran for 152 yards and two touchdowns, he threw as many touchdown passes as Penix (one)!

Something tells me Johnson won't care. His career is a strange one, and I don't know if he's a genius or what. How a running back as good at running the ball as he could choose to start his college career in an Air Raid offense at Mississippi State, I'll never understand. Perhaps the Mississippi native wanted to stay close to home. That's the only possible reason.

Johnson had 229 carries in three seasons at MSU. He's had 201 with the Huskies this year alone. Ironically, his time at Washington is almost a mirror image of his entire career. He had only 69 carries through Washington's first seven games but finished with 132 in the final six games.

Whatever the reason behind his choices, it's hard to argue that he hasn't been a huge part of Washington's run. The Huskies' ability to lean on Johnson in the run game has not only helped make the offense more difficult to defend (you can't afford to leave light boxes anymore), but it's helped the defense, too. They get more time on the sideline to catch their breath between possessions.

December 2, 2023, 4:57 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 11:57 pm EST
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Truly remarkable run for the Huskies

I don't know how Washington fans or coaches do this. I don't know that my heart could stand the stress of watching this team play football every week. I'm a neutral, and it gives me anxiety to watch.

Tonight's win is Washington's seventh one-score victory this season. No other team in the country has won more than four one-score games without losing at least one. It's also the ninth straight time the Huskies were involved in a one-score game during the fourth quarter.

But perhaps that tension is this team's greatest strength. There is no pressure scenario capable of shaking the Huskies' confidence given they've been in this spot so many times before. Compare that to Oregon, which played three one-score games all season. There was a 38-30 win over Texas Tech in Week 2, and then there were the two losses to Washington.

In crunch time, Washington didn't wilt. Oregon did.

December 2, 2023, 4:56 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 11:56 pm EST
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First down Washington

Oregon gets two stops on first and second down, but the Huskies convert the third down with a short pass to Jalen McMillan, and that should wrap things up. Oregon has only one timeout left.

December 2, 2023, 4:38 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 11:38 pm EST
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There's the quick touchdown!

Wow. You tell Oregon it needs to score quickly, and Oregon is nothing if not attentive. The Ducks put together a two-play touchdown drive that includes a 12-yard run from Bo Nix and then a 63-yard touchdown pass to Traeshon Holden, who catches a deep crossing route and then runs through the entire Washington secondary en route to the end zone. It took 30 seconds off the clock. It's 34-31 with 2:13 left, and Oregon has all three of its timeouts. 

December 2, 2023, 4:32 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 11:32 pm EST
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Touchdown Huskies

Washington may have just clinched a Pac-12 title and punched a ticket to the College Football Playoff.

It's a 12-play, 82-yard touchdown drive that melts 6:20 off the clock and finishes with Michael Penix Jr. floating a 2-yard touchdown pass to Quentin Moore. It was a mix of everything on that drive as Penix hit Ja'Lynn Polk for two big receptions, while Dillon Johnson kept his legs churning on the ground. The touchdown gives the Huskies a 34-24 lead with only 2:44 to play. The Ducks need to respond quickly and then get the ball back even quicker.

December 2, 2023, 4:26 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 11:26 pm EST
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Washington gets a big stop

The Ducks manage to get a first down on the next possession but are stonewalled from there. Bucky Irving loses a yard on first down, Nix completes a short pass on second, and on third the Huskies bring more blitzers than the Ducks can handle and Nix is dragged to the ground for no gain.

Oregon's forced to punt for the first time in the second half and Washington gets the ball back at the UW 18. It'll be interesting to see if the Huskies keep their foot on the gas or look to burn clock and take things a little slower.

December 2, 2023, 4:13 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 11:13 pm EST
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Washington is back in front

Dillon Johnson caps off a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive by crashing into the end zone from a yard out. There was near disaster as Michael Penix threw an incompletion that was initially ruled a fumble before being overturned on review.

Johnson is now up to 101 yards rushing with two touchdowns, and don't forget, he threw for a touchdown as well. If Washington holds on to win the game he should be the favorite to win the game's MVP award, though voters do love QBs and narratives, so I wouldn't be surprised if Penix won.

But I digress!

There's still a lot of football to play, and considering how Oregon's offense has performed in this second half, I would bet we haven't seen the final lead change of the night.

December 2, 2023, 4:06 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 11:06 pm EST
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Washington was an inch or two away from disaster

The first play of the fourth quarter was initially ruled a fumble, but was overturned following a quick review.

December 2, 2023, 4:00 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 11:00 pm EST
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END 3Q: Oregon 24, Washington 20

It's been a tale of two halves in Las Vegas as Oregon has stormed back from being down 20-3 with less than two minutes left in the first half to a 24-20 lead as the third quarter comes to an end.

The Ducks came out of the locker room with their feathers on fire, scoring two touchdowns in the quarter and gaining 135 yards in the process. It could've been even more if not for a Bo Nix interception two plays after Washington's Michael Penix Jr. threw an interception of his own.

This game is far from over, however, and Oregon's lead is far from safe. Washington will begin the fourth quarter with the ball in the red zone. That's been a problem for the Huskies so far tonight. They've scored on their first four red zone possessions, but had to settle for two field goals. They'll be looking to cash this trip in with at least six points.

December 2, 2023, 3:54 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 10:54 pm EST
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Oregon has the lead for the first time tonight

Bo Nix's 44-yard scramble sets the Ducks up in the red zone, but it's Jordan James finishing the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run. It's a three-play, 62-yard touchdown drive, and Oregon is up 24-20 late in the third.

This has almost been a mirror image of the first quarter that saw Washington dominate. Oregon is outscoring Washington 14-0 in the second half and has outgained the Huskies 135 yards to 29. It's also a mirror image of the first meeting, as Oregon is the team that's 2 of 2 on fourth downs tonight while Washington is 0 of 1.

Who knows what the final 17 minutes will bring?

December 2, 2023, 3:48 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 10:48 pm EST
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Oregon is in the red zone

The dangers of playing man coverage.

December 2, 2023, 3:45 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 10:45 pm EST
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Allegiant Field turf makes a big stop

Washington runs an end around to Dillon Johnson on third-and-2. Johnson fakes a toss to Odunze on a reverse and is left with a lot of open field in front of him, but the Turf Monster makes a huge play, and trips Johnson up.

It leaves Washington with a fourth-and-2, and the Huskies go for it, but Penix is sacked from behidn by the blitzing corner Nikko Reed. It's a turnover on downs and the Ducks have the ball at the UO 38.

December 2, 2023, 3:39 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 10:39 pm EST
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We've lost our minds here

We have our first turnover of the evening. Washington's drive starts out nicely with a long Dillon Johnson run to approach midfield, but a false start puts Washington in third-and-long. Oregon gets pressure on Penix who fires a pass off his backfoot that sails over his target and into the arms of Oregon's Kyhree Jackson.

So what does Oregon do to take advantage? Bo Nix throws a pass directly to Mishael Powell. He plays for Washington.

For those keeping track at home, that's no turnovers in the first 84 plays of the game, but two turnovers in the last three plays.

December 2, 2023, 3:30 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 10:30 pm EST
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And just like that, it's a one-score game

That's a tremendous start to the second half for Oregon as the Ducks take the ball and fly down the field for a 75-yard touchdown drive. It even included the first fourth-down conversion of the game. Maybe that's what the Ducks need to get the juices flowing. It would not be the last fourth-down conversion, though.

Bo Nix hits Terrance Ferguson for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 2 to finish a 15-play, 75 yard drive to cut the Washington lead to 20-17. We've got a game in Vegas, folks.

December 2, 2023, 3:20 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 10:20 pm EST
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We're underway in the second half

And Oregon is already in the red zone.

December 2, 2023, 3:15 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 10:15 pm EST
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HALFTIME: Washington 20, Oregon 10

What once felt like a blowout quickly turned into a tense affair. No. 3 Washington leads No. 5 Oregon 20-10 at halftime of the Pac-12 Championship Game as a late touchdown from the Ducks has changed the vibe of this one.

Washington dominated most of the first half, jumping out to a 10-0 lead and holding Oregon to only 9 yards of offense in the first quarter. Oregon was finally able to get on the board with a field goal, but Washington quickly responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive to go up 17-3. The Huskies extended the lead to 20-3 with less than two minutes remaining in the half. Oregon then marched down the field in 90 seconds to score its first touchdown with 9 seconds left in half to cut Washington's lead to 20-10 at the break. That's huge because Oregon will get the ball to start the third quarter.

The Ducks will have to play a lot better in the second half if they want to come back to win the game, though. Washington has 255 yards of offense to Oregon's 142, and Michael Penix Jr. is 16-of-22 passing for 192 yards. Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan have been his top two targets, with Odunze pulling in seven passes for 91 yards while McMillan has 74 yards on three catches. Bo Nix has thrown for 117 yards, but most of those came on the final drive of the half.

December 2, 2023, 2:51 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 9:51 pm EST
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The Ducks have shown up

Oregon puts together its most impressive drive of the night when it needed it most. The Ducks answer the Washington field goal with a seven-play, 75-yard drive that took only 90 seconds with Bo Nix hitting Terrance Ferguson for a 2-yard touchdown.

There was also a pass interference call on a deep ball to Troy Franklin that helped quite a bit, though Washington fans will feel it was a bad decision. Oregon fans, however, think the refs got it right. I hate all pass interference calls, so it's best not to ask me.

It's now a 20-10 game and Oregon will get the ball to start the third quarter.

December 2, 2023, 2:46 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 9:46 pm EST
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Huskies settle for three

Penix and the Huskies are dealing. It's a seven-play, 64-yard drive highlighted by a 34-yard connection with Rome Odunze on a corner route that featured an incredible throw from Penix. Then there was a double-reverse flea-flicker that resulted in a first down, but probably wasn't worth all the hassle, to be honest. Still, we appreciate the effort. Grady Gross' 37-yard field goal finishes the drive and it's now 20-3 Washington with 1:39 left in the half.

This is a huge possession for the Ducks. They'll get the ball to start the third quarter, so if they can get points here before the half, they'll have a chance to cut two scores off the deficit before Washington gets the ball again.

December 2, 2023, 2:38 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 9:38 pm EST
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It's another three-and-out for Oregon

We may be on the verge of a blowout. Oregon is now 0 of 4 on third-down conversions as Bo Nix's short pass to Terrance Ferguson isn't nearly enough to convert the third-and-9 as Kam Fabiculan comes flying into make the tackle immediately.

I'm not sure what the answer is for the Ducks. It's clear they aren't excited to have Nix drop back and throw deep, and it's understandable. The deep ball is not Nix's strength. The usual plan is to lure the defense in with the short passes and hit the home run when it's there. To this point, Washington has kept everything in front of them and done such an effective job that it's taking the Ducks out of their gameplan. Complicating matters is Oregon can't run the ball. Bucky Irving has been held to 13 yards on five carries.

In other words, everything is working for Washington right now, and little is working for the Ducks.

December 2, 2023, 2:29 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 9:29 pm EST
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Washington is back in the end zone

That's a lightning fast answer. The Huskies go 75 yards in four plays, with the biggest being a 45-yard pass to Jalen McMillan to set up a first-and-goal. Germie Bernard catches a pop pass on the next snap to score from 4 yards out, and the Huskies are up 17-3.

Michael Penix Jr. is now up to 137 yards passing but doesn't have a touchdown because it was Dillon Johnson lined up in the wildcat on the touchdown play. Raise your hand if you had Dillon Johnson throwing a touchdown tonight before either Penix or Bo Nix.

December 2, 2023, 2:21 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 9:21 pm EST
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The Ducks are on the board

After finally getting a stop on defense, Oregon manages its best offensive possession of the game, though it was a low bar to clear. Oregon goes 72 yards in 12 plays but the drive is halted in the red zone following the incompletion to Franklin (who is on the sideline being attended to by trainers).

After a 1 of 5 start, Bo Nix went 6-of-7 passing on the drive for 59 yards. It's 10-3 Huskies with 8:46 left in the half.

December 2, 2023, 2:13 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 9:13 pm EST
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Oregon WR Troy Franklin is down and being looked at

Franklin was the intended target on third-and-4 but the pass was broken up. More concerning is that Franklin is yet to get up after the play. My best guess -- and I stress guess -- is an injury to his left shoulder. It looks like he came down hard on it with his arm outstretched. Hopefully it's not too serious; Franklin is Oregon's leading receiver, and if he's hurt, it'll be a ginormous loss for the Oregon offense.

December 2, 2023, 2:10 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 9:10 pm EST
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END 1ST: Washington 10, Oregon 0

Nobody told the Washington Huskies they were underdogs tonight. It's been a dominant display by Washington in the first quarter as the Huskies are not only ahead 10-0 on the scoreboard, but have outgained Oregon 117-9 in total yardage. Washington marched down the field on its opening possession but was finally halted by a sack and settled for a field goal. After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Huskies quickly moved the ball 50 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to two scores.

Oregon hasn't managed a first down yet. Bo Nix is 1-of-5 passing for 8 yards to start the game, while Michael Penix Jr. is 9 of 13 for 66 yards. Huskies running back Dillon Johnson has rushed for 52 yards, caught a pass for 7 yards  and scored the game's lone touchdown. Washington begins the second quarter with the ball and a chance to go ahead three scores and really put the Ducks in their crosshairs.

December 2, 2023, 1:58 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 8:58 pm EST
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Injury to monitor

December 2, 2023, 1:54 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 8:54 pm EST
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What an absolute disaster for the Ducks

It's another three-and-out for Oregon. Bucky Irving gets the Ducks into a third-and-1 following an 8-yard reception, but Bo Nix is chased out of the pocket by Washington's Mishael Powell and is forced to throw the ball away. Oregon punts again and Washington gets the ball back at the UW 22.

December 2, 2023, 1:51 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 8:51 pm EST
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The Huskies take advantage of the short field

Which one of these teams was nearly a 10-point underdog? The Huskies go 50 yards in six plays with Dillon Johnson lowering his shoulder to finish the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. The Huskies have now run 20 plays for 98 yards and 10 points, while Oregon is yet to pick up an offensive yard. It's already 10-0 and Washington is absolutely dominating this contest. There's a long way to go, but with the ease of Washington's offense, it already feels like the Oregon offense is in must-score territory.

December 2, 2023, 1:45 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 8:45 pm EST
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Not an ideal start for the Oregon offense

The Ducks waited a long time to get on the field, and when they do, they go three-and-out. Bo Nix's first pass hits the umpire, and his next two are off target. The punt only makes things worse as Washington's Ross James returns it 32 yards to the 50.

December 2, 2023, 1:38 AM
Dec. 01, 2023, 8:38 pm EST
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