The Washington Huskies defeated the Utah Utes on Friday 10-3 to win the Pac-12 Championship and secure a trip to the Rose Bowl. Depending on who you are as a person, you either saw last night’s match up as a defensive masterclass, or a tale of two terribly mediocre offenses. But the most likely scenario is that you didn’t see the game at all.
In front of a mostly-barren Levi’s Stadium, both teams put up some putrid offensive stat lines. Utes quarterback Jason Shelley threw 17-of-27 passing for 137 yards and the three interceptions while Huskies quarterback Jake Browning completed 21 of his 33 passes for 188 yards and one pick. Their post-game QBR’s were 9.3 and 42.9, respectively. ESPN Stats & Info noted that 13 combined points are the fewest in a conference championship since 1992, when the SEC played the first conference championship game. The previous low was 15 and came during the 2006 ACC title game between Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.
The only touchdown of the game happened with 1:07 left in the third quarter when redshirt sophomore Byron Murphy snatched a ball that had bounced off of a receiver’s hands and leg and ran in the interception for a touchdown.
The Utes did have a chance to tie up the game with their final drive coming with 3:03 remaining in the fourth. After moving 51 yards down the field, the team was forced into a 4th-and-12 at Washington’s 42-yard line. Shelley threw a pass down the middle to receiver Siaosi Mariner, who was unable to make the catch thanks to some early contact from Murphy.
This sort of ending wasn’t much of a surprise given the Pac-12's track record for awful officiating. In a game between USC and Washington State earlier this season, a controversial targeting penalty was reversed after an untrained executive personally overruled the call.
After the missed call, the Utah-supporting side of the stadium shouted boo’s for the remainder of regulation. However, in a beautiful moment that displayed two fan bases putting aside their differences to unite under a common cause, Huskies fans joined in on the jeers during the trophy presentation. The ire drawn from the announced crowd of 35,134—the smallest crowd since the conference moved to a neutral site in 2014, per The Athletic—was directed towards Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. It was arguably the loudest the sparse crowd was all night.
It wasn’t until Murphy was given the game’s MVP trophy that the booing began to subside—only from the Washington side, though, as Utes fans likely never stopped. But even at the point where the athletes were being celebrated, who could blame anyone for booing? The game sucked, tickets sold for embarrassingly low prices and the most impressive thing anyone in the stadium saw on Friday was the obnoxiously large flag during the anthem. The only upside was that the game lasted less than three hours.