Pac-12 gives us one last night to remember as Washington punches Playoff ticket
There were lots of tears in Sin City. Some from the happy Huskies, others from the sad conference staffers who knew this would be the last night of its kind.
LAS VEGAS — Start with the bittersweet, because the backdrop of this top-five clash of titans was always going to have a hint of melancholy.
One hour and 48 minutes after Washington beat Oregon, 34-31, to win the last Pac-12 title game, conference and network employees gathered on a stage on the Allegiant Stadium field to watch a video montage.
The soundtrack to the rolling credits? Green Day’s “Good Riddance,” better known as “Time of Your Life.”
There were tears, all right. Lots of hugs, too. It was about as sad of a sight as you could witness on a football field, and it was a stark contrast from the tears that had been pouring out of Huskies players and coaches on this same surface in the preceding hour-plus.
There are a lot of uncertain futures in the Pac-12 right now, tons of employees who poured their hearts out for the place for many years and who don’t know what comes next.
That they would go to bed Friday night knowing they had a College Football Playoff team for the first time in seven years was likely mildly comforting, after Washington left no doubt whatsoever about the conference’s seat among the elite, at least this year.
The Huskies jumped out to an early 17-point lead. They outgained Oregon by 118 yards. They held the ball for almost 15 minutes more than the Ducks. They punted only once.
Michael Penix Jr. might not have won the Heisman Trophy, but he and his team all but certainly kept Bo Nix from winning it.
This was a master class from Kalen DeBoer, who is quickly becoming the best coach in the sport right now not named Kirby Smart or Nick Saban. He’ll be on the game’s center stage in exactly one month — likely joined by at least one of those two-time title winners — after he took a team that was a sizable underdog in a rivalry rematch and did exactly what it did seven weeks ago, which is also exactly what it did one year ago: beat the Ducks by 3 points.