National Treasure: Washington, Michigan Punch Tickets

By Ron Johnson

Next Monday, it will be a true battle of undefeated teams. The last set of perfect teams will do battle for the National Championship in the last Final Four College Football Playoff before the field expands to 12 next season. While Florida State is still acting salty, and Ohio State is putting missing flyers about their offense on milk cartons, two former National Champions will do battle for the right to hoist up the trophy one more time.

And it is NOT who most expected…which makes the end simply amazing.

Michigan Rolls Tide in Overtime

Before this game even started, everyone was talking about how it will be great for Nick Saban to finally hoist up the National Championship for the first time in over three years. They were discussing how the Tide have shocked the world once this season with their win over Georgia, and they will do it again in the Rose Bowl.

Those same critics and experts just forgot to tell Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines.

With the spotlight solely on Pasadena, California, the Wolverines put the final nail in the coffin of the Crimson Tide after forcing overtime in the 110th Edition of The Rose Bowl Game. Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy went to work in the final 90 seconds of the game and found Roman Wilson for a 4-yard touchdown to send the game into overtime, and Blake Corum bobbed and weaved through that nasty Alabama defense to the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown in the first extra period to give Michigan the lead.

But it was the defense that stood tall when it mattered in this game.

On Alabama’s turn to play the overtime period, Jalen Milroe, who had been a thorn in the side of Michigan all game long, managed to move the ball all the way down to the 3-yard line to set up a fourth-and-goal situation. Everyone watching on television and in the stands knew exactly what was going to happen next…except Milroe was stopped short on the QB Keep. Milroe attempted to rush up the middle in an effort to get into the end zone, but an Army of Blue presented the Ultimate Roadblock to the Ultimate Game Changer. 

In the end, the Michigan faithful cheered loudly and went into a frenzy as Michigan held on to defeat Alabama 27-20 to not only win The Granddaddy of Them All but also punch their ticket to Houston for the CFP National Championship Game. This will be Michigan’s first trip to the National Championship Game under the CFP Format and first victory in three trips to the CFP Semifinals. 

Washington Hooks the Horns in High Scoring Affair

In a shootout for the ages, the Texas Longhorns and Washington Huskies lived up to all the hype surrounding the schools heading into the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. While Washington was the clear-cut favorite from the jump, Texas was embracing its underdog status in every way. While Texas became the dream team that hoisted the Big XII Championship for the final time last month, it was Washington proving that it is indeed the team of destiny in this story.

And for them, the story continues.

Heisman Runner-Up Michael Penix, Jr. lit up the smashmouth defense of Texas for 430 yards through the air to go with a pair of touchdowns, and the defense did everything in its power to stave off a comeback by Quinn Ewers to help the Washington Huskies stay perfect, win the Sugar Bowl 37-31, and punch their ticket to the National Championship Game against Michigan this upcoming Monday.

But that is not to say that the Longhorns did not put up a fight until the end.

Following a 41-yard pass on third down with about 20 seconds left to Jordan Whittington, Ewers got to work trying to avenge the final loss of the Longhorns’ previous campaign. But it was the final play that brought the stadium into a massive frenzy. 

Adonai Mitchell had a chance to catch the game winning catch in the end zone, but it was Huskies cornerback Elijah Jackson who decided to be Mutombo on this occasion as he batted away the ball and watched as it dropped to the ground in the end zone to seal the victory for Washington. 

And Then There Were Two…


This Monday night, January 8th, it is the Team of Destiny versus America’s Villains as Washington will look to finish another perfect season the same way it finished its last perfect season: As National Champions. For Michigan, it is indeed the perfect redemption story as they will look to hoist up the National Championship for the first time in almost three decades.

After a year of adversity, two teams that were written off as stepping stones for a potential all-SEC National Championship will do battle to determine who truly is the absolute best. This also marks a huge moment for Jim Harbaugh as he has a chance to join familiar company. Only a handful of legends (Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, Pete Carroll) have coached both a Super Bowl and National Championship. All three of those coaches won a Super Bowl and National Championship, and while Harbaugh did not get to win the Super Bowl he was in (a loss to brother John and Baltimore in the Harbaugh Bowl), he will have a chance to hoist this championship up next week.

As for the Huskies, it’s all about Penix. He has gone through any and every shred of adversity that one can think of in his collegiate career, so to say that he is focused on this game is an understatement. 

Through all the misery, nailbiting moments, controversy both on and off the field as well as the drama of having the country root against you, how can you not get hyped for this Championship Game of Ultimates?