Washington secures Rose Bowl berth with Pac-12 title game win over Utah

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Nick Bromberg
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Byron Murphy runs for a touchdown in Washington’s win over Utah. (Getty)
Byron Murphy runs for a touchdown in Washington’s win over Utah. (Getty)

Washington is heading to the Rose Bowl.

The No. 11 Huskies (10-3) beat No. 17 Utah (9-4) 10-3 to win the Pac-12 Championship Game Friday night. Washington’s winning margin came courtesy of a pick-six by Byron Murphy in the third quarter.

Byron Murphy’s TD. (via Fox)
Byron Murphy’s TD. (via Fox)

Murphy’s score was a perfect encapsulation of the game. The Utah offense struggled to get yards against Washington’s defense and Murphy was the Utes’ prime antagonist. He sealed the game with his second interception with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

That pick came after Utah had blocked a Washington field goal that would have put the Huskies up two scores. It was the third interception thrown by Utah’s Jason Shelley on the evening and officially ended Utah’s chances at a win.

Utah couldn’t move the ball

Both teams struggled with offensive efficiency. Utah ended up struggling the most. In addition to having three turnovers, the Utah offense had a hard time gaining yardage. Washington held the Utes to just 147 yards of total offense.

Shelley didn’t break 100 yards passing until garbage time while Utah ran for a combined 51 yards. The Utes averaged just over five yards a play and had just eight first downs before a futile final drive.

Washington doubled up the Utes with over 300 yards of offense. The Huskies’ offensive performance was far from dominating given that the offense couldn’t find the end zone. But it was enough with the way that the defense was stifling Utah’s offense.

Washington will face a Big Ten team

The Huskies will make their first Rose Bowl appearance since 2001 when they beat Purdue 34-24. Washington won the Pac-12 two years ago but ended up in the College Football Playoff against Alabama. Washington will face the winner of the Big Ten if it does not make the playoff or Michigan if Ohio State wins the Big Ten title game and makes the playoff.

Utah will likely head to the Alamo or Holiday Bowl.

Huskies have a chance at 11 wins

Washington’s path to double-digit wins has been anything but straightforward in 2018. The Huskies lost to Auburn in Week 1 in Atlanta and seemingly eliminated themselves from playoff contention with the loss.

The Huskies then lost to Oregon and Cal in October to thoroughly ruin any hopes of making the playoff. But thanks to Washington State’s early-season loss to USC, Washington entered the Apple Cup with a chance to win the Pac-12 North. And that’s exactly what it did in forcing Washington State’s Gardner Minshew into his worst passing game of the season in a snowy win.

That set up the matchup with Utah in the Pac-12 title game and the fifth season with 10 or more wins since 1990.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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