Injury-Plagued Michael Penix Jr. Falls Short as Washington Succumbs to Michigan in College Football Playoff Championship

HOUSTON (AP) — In a College Football Playoff championship game that fell short of a fairy-tale ending, Michael Penix Jr., the quarterback with two surgically repaired knees, faced a tough battle as No. 2 Washington fell 34-13 to top-ranked Michigan. Despite throwing for 255 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, Penix couldn’t overcome a challenging start by his team’s defense.

Penix returned for a sixth season with the hope of leading the Huskies to a title. However, even the performance of the Heisman Trophy runner-up wasn’t enough to secure the victory. Washington struggled in the first quarter, allowing Michigan to gain 174 rushing yards and 229 total yards, resulting in a 14-3 deficit.

Although Penix managed to close the gap with a 3-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter, his elite precision eluded him throughout the game. Known for his accuracy in deep passes, Penix missed several downfield attempts. Reflecting on his performance, Penix acknowledged his shortcomings and emphasized the importance of executing plays and making better reads.

Adding to his struggles, Penix endured numerous hits during the game. After the match, he limped towards Washington’s locker room, his face covered by a towel and his right arm protecting his seemingly tender side. An interception on the first play of the second half further diminished Washington’s momentum, preventing Penix from leading his team to score in the remaining time, ultimately ending their 21-game winning streak.

Despite experiencing multiple injuries throughout his collegiate career, including two ACL tears and shoulder injuries, Penix showcased his resilience during his time at Washington. He led the nation in passing yards this season and finished second in Heisman Trophy voting.

Washington coach Kalen DeBoer, who previously served as Penix’s offensive coordinator at Indiana, expressed his admiration for Penix’s decision to join him in Seattle. DeBoer recognized the quarterback’s potential and the trust he placed in him.

While disappointed with the game’s outcome, Penix expressed gratitude for his journey and remained optimistic about his health. Although not completely healthy, Penix mentioned being in a better condition compared to three years ago. He reassured that his injuries were not major and stated his commitment to giving his all for the team.

Moving forward, Penix will transition to the NFL, while Washington will be part of the new Big Ten conference this summer, along with nine other schools. As Washington bids farewell to the Pac-12, DeBoer acknowledged the conference’s history and the impact made by alumni in their tradition of big games.

In the face of Monday’s disappointing finish, DeBoer believes that Penix has solidified himself as one of the greats in Washington’s football history, and he hopes that Husky Nation will always hold him in high regard.

Washington’s defeat to Michigan in the championship game marks the end of their season, highlighting the dominant performance of the Wolverines. Despite their incredible journey, Washington was unable to overcome the challenges posed by their opponent, resulting in a 34-13 loss.