Nov 18, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) drops back in the pocket against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles during the third quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

QB Will Rogers changes course, will stay at Washington

Former Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers is honoring his commitment to Washington after all.

The graduate transfer initially re-entered the transfer portal after coach Kalen DeBoer left for Alabama.

On Tuesday, Rogers informed new Huskies coach Jedd Fisch that he is staying and has resumed taking classes.

Rogers left Mississippi State as the Southeastern Conference’s No. 2 all-time leading passer with 12,315 yards.

He completed 69.3 percent of his passes with 94 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in 43 games from 2020-23.

Rogers explained his reasons for remaining with Washington in a phone interview with ESPN.

“Some of the guys at Washington,” he said. “The team went 14-1 last year. If we can pick up where we left off, obviously it’s going to be a tough task. But I think it’s why you come to Washington.

“It’s obviously a new conference and things like that. But I have a lot of faith in Coach Fisch and feel like he’ll be ready to have us compete at a high level.”

Rogers will be the favorite to replace Michael Penix Jr. as the starter in 2024. While Penix is headed to the NFL, the Huskies also lost transfers Dylan Morris (James Madison), Austin Mack (Alabama) and Will Haskell. Haskell entered the portal earlier this month.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2024; New Orleans, LA, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver Germie Bernard (4) watches a video review during the fourth quarter of the 2024 Sugar Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington WR Germie Bernard to enter transfer portal

Washington wide receiver Germie Bernard is entering the NCAA transfer portal, he told ESPN on Monday.

Bernard had 34 receptions for 419 yards and two touchdowns for the Huskies this season, his first in Washington after spending the 2022 season at Michigan State. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.

The move comes on the heels of an announcement Sunday that the Huskies hired former Arizona coach Jedd Fisch to replace Kalen DeBoer, who took the Alabama job last week. DeBoer guided the Huskies to the College Football Playoff national title game, where they lost to Michigan 34-13 on Jan. 8.

Bernard’s decision also comes after quarterback Will Rogers re-entered the transfer portal after a brief stint with the Huskies. The former Mississippi State QB announced his transfer to Washington on Dec. 15 and was even with the team, wearing a Huskies uniform with his name on it and throwing some pregame passes, at the title game. His re-entry to the transfer portal keeps his options open, including the possibility to return to Washington.

Similarly, tight end Tre Watson, who joined Washington from Fresno State in December, re-entered the portal over the weekend and committed to Texas A&M on Sunday.

Washington also will be without wide receivers Ja’Lynn Polk and Rome Odunze and running back Dillon Johnson, who all declared for the NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Jan 6, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Huskies offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb talks to the media during media day before the College Football Playoff national championship game against the Michigan Wolverines at George R Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Washington OC Ryan Grubb won’t be head coach, leaves program

Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said he has been passed over for the Huskies’ head-coaching position and is leaving the program.

Following his announcement late Saturday on social media, several outlets reported Sunday that Grubb is expected to join his old boss, Kalen DeBoer, named Thursday as the head coach at Alabama.

“Though I wanted to be, I will not be the next head coach at the University of Washington,” Grubb wrote. “It would have been a dream to stay here and fight to maintain the standard that had been reestablished. I showed up every day early and stayed late gladly to fight for my family … and with tears in my eyes I know my last day in Husky Stadium has come.”

Grubb arrived at Washington with DeBoer before the 2022 season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after working with him at Fresno State. He previously worked at Eastern Michigan, Sioux Falls and South Dakota State.

In his first season, the Huskies led the nation in passing offense (369.8 yards per game) and third-down conversions (57 percent) and finished second in total offense (515.8 yards).

The prior season, Washington was 73rd in pass offense and 114th in total offense in the nation.

In 2023, the No. 2 Huskies (15-1) reached the College Football Playoff final, losing 34-13 to No. 1 Michigan. They were second in the nation in passing offense (343.7 yards per game) and 12th in total offense (462.1 yards).

–Field Level Media

Dec 1, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) celebrate after the Pac-12 Championship game against the Oregon Ducks Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

CFP notebook: Washington can give Pac-12 a champion’s farewell

The College Football Playoff title game against Michigan is Washington’s final contest as a member of the Pac-12.

The Huskies move into the Big Ten next season, and one of their nine conference games in their debut season will be against Michigan.

The Wolverines are scheduled to visit the Huskies in Seattle on Oct. 5.

“Certainly, they’re on our schedule a year from now and it’s a whole different deal that we’ll be involved with as far as a new conference,” Washington coach Kalen DeBoer said. “I think this year where we’re at right now in the season, this is all about really us representing the Pac-12 and going to win a national championship for our program and finishing off this season for this group of guys that have worked really hard.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is trying to keep the rematch as a topic for another time.

“Yeah, I guess I have thought about that,” Harbaugh said of the 2024 matchup. “I’m thinking more about the here and now for sure.”

–While Harbaugh repeatedly taps around questions regarding Michigan sign-stealing allegations, quarterback J.J. McCarthy made some pointed comments this week involving the team’s fiercest rival while trying to defend the Wolverines.

“I also feel like it’s so unfortunate because there’s probably — I don’t want to say a crazy number, but I’d say a good number — 80 percent of the teams in college football steal signs,” McCarthy said. “It’s just a thing about football. It’s been around for years.

“We actually had to adapt because in 2020 or 2019 when Ohio State was stealing our signs, which is legal and they were doing it, we had to get up to the level that they were at, and we had to make it an even playing field.”

Harbaugh was suspended for the final three games of the regular season due to the issue. The NCAA is still investigating the situation.

Harbaugh also served a three-game suspension at the outset of the season for his role in NCAA violations involving recruiting and coaching time.

Michigan players continue to say that suspensions and scrutiny of the program have been fuel for their success.

“Things happen along the way that don’t kind of fall into place,” Wolverines defensive tackle Mason Graham said. “We’ve overcome a lot of adversity this season. I’ve felt like it’s brought us closer together, and I think everyone is starting to see this in the outside world.”

–Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has received considerable acclaim for a stellar season that includes being named Heisman Trophy runner-up.

His top receiver, Rome Odunze, operates in a relative vacuum despite setting a program record with 1,553 receiving yards, third-most in Pac-12 history. Odunze also has 87 receptions and needs eight catches on Monday to set that school mark as well.

“I think a big thing is his consistency,” Penix said of Odunze. “You see that each and every week on a consistent basis. He doesn’t just do it on game day, either. He shows up in practice, always giving the best looks, the best reps that he can to help his team, and that’s what I think makes him so special.”

Odunze had six receptions for 125 yards in the CFP semifinal win against Texas. The 100-yard outing was his 10th of the season.

–Michigan running back Blake Corum’s decisive touchdown against Alabama in the Rose Bowl was his 56th career rushing score, snapping a tie with Anthony Thomas (55 from 1997-2000) for the school record.

Corum is second in Michigan history with 354 career points, tied with former kicker Garrett Rivas (2003-06). Former kicker Jake Moody (2018-22) holds the school mark of 355.

–Field Level Media

Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) pass the ball during the Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semi-finals at the Ceasars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 1, 2024. The Huskies won the game over the Texas Longhorns 37-31.

Washington, Michael Penix Jr. take aim at Michigan in CFP title clash

Michael Penix Jr. claims he doesn’t remember much about slaying Michigan in 2020 when he was the quarterback at Indiana.

It’s safe to say what happens Monday night, good or bad, will stick in his memory bank much longer.

Penix will lead No. 2 Washington into the College Football Playoff national championship game against No. 1 Michigan on Monday in Houston, where the pair of 14-0 teams both will look to end long title droughts.

The Wolverines haven’t claimed the national title since winning in split fashion in 1997. The Huskies’ drought is a little longer, dating back to another season of co-champions in 1991.

The matchup is the last of the four-team CFP era. A 12-team playoff system will begin next season.

The contest also could be the final one at Michigan for coach Jim Harbaugh as NFL coaching rumors are flying fast and furious.

To get that title, Harbaugh’s defense must slow Penix, the Heisman Trophy runner-up who is third all-time in Washington history in passing yardage (9,289) and touchdown passes (66) despite playing in just 27 games for the school since transferring from Indiana.

Harbaugh hasn’t forgotten that Penix carved up the Michigan defense to the tune of 342 yards and three touchdowns in Indiana’s 38-21 win in 2020.

“He’s a super great player. My impressions of him when he played at Indiana were the same,” Harbaugh said this week. “Big-time arm talent, tremendous presence in the pocket, sees the field really well. He is so polished. … Yeah, it’s at an elite level.”

Yet Penix insists he has very little recall of what was a major deal for the Hoosiers — ending a 24-game losing streak to the Wolverines.

“I don’t really remember much. I just remember winning, really,” Penix said. “That was during the COVID year and it’s a totally different ballgame.”

Said Washington coach Kalen DeBoer: “I think the irony is that, yeah, he’s playing another Big Ten team that he’s faced before. It’s a cool moment for us as a team and for him as well.”

Washington leads the FBS with 21 consecutive wins after outlasting No. 3 Texas 37-31 in the CFP semifinals at the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. The Huskies’ last 10 games have all been decided by 10 or fewer points.

Michigan continued its stellar season by rallying for a 27-20 overtime victory over No. 4 Alabama in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

Wolverines star running back Blake Corum scored the decisive points on a 17-yard run in OT before the defense stuffed the Crimson Tide on fourth down to end it.

Corum has set the Michigan single-season rushing touchdown record with 25 while also topping 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season. He has 1,111 rushing yards this season.

“I feel like he in my eyes is the most valuable player of our team,” Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy said. “… I feel like he’s one of the guys that makes our offense go.”

Hanging over the Michigan program is the sign-stealing controversy that led to a three-game suspension for Harbaugh to complete the regular season.

There is speculation that the program could be stripped of wins or perhaps even the national title if it should win.

“I don’t know if you want to live in rumorville or speculation,” Harbaugh said, “but we just don’t really have any room to be doing that at this point.”

Michigan holds an 8-5 lead in the all-time series and defeated the visiting Huskies 31-10 in 2021. Corum rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns.

That game seems like a distant memory to defensive end Bralen Trice, one of the Washington players who played that day in Ann Arbor.

“Yeah, that was a while back, completely different team, different group of guys, but now we have a whole different team, whole different coaching staff, and we have a way better team, way better thing going out here,” Trice said. “But the level of preparation and the mindset that this team has is a lot different than that in the past. It’s a different time, it’s a different era, and this is a team of winners.”

Washington running back Dillon Johnson (leg) is expected to play despite being hurt late in the victory over Texas. He has rushed for 1,162 yards and 16 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9), center, and his teammates watch as confetti begins to fall after winning the Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semi-finals at the Ceasars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 1, 2024. The Huskies won the game over the Texas Longhorns 37-31.

No. 2 Washington hungry, expected to be in Houston

For the 28th and final time as head coach and quarterback, Kalen DeBoer and Michael Penix Jr. take the field on Monday exactly where they expected to be — with a chance to walk away national champions.

The combination of DeBoer and Penix Jr. was introduced to a wider audience on New Year’s Day with a Sugar Bowl shootout win over Texas that pushed their record in two seasons together to 25-2. They’re 9-0 against ranked teams.

“This guy was on another mission to make sure this happened,” DeBoer said of Washington reaching the championship game.

A sixth-year quarterback, Penix Jr. has 4,648 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2023. He was 29 of 38 for 430 yards and two touchdowns in the takedown of Texas.

‘The job’s not finished. It’s definitely going to take more,” said Penix Jr., the Heisman Trophy runner-up.

Penix Jr. isn’t a new name for Michigan, and the Wolverines know the coach, too. DeBoer passed through Indiana as offensive coordinator in 2019. His current QB, the Indiana transfer Penix Jr., beat the Wolverines in Bloomington, Ind., in 2020, before one of his four season-ending injuries (torn ACL). He was 30 of 50 for 342 yards with three TD passes against Michigan.

“He’s a super great player,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday. “My impression of him at Indiana was the same. Big time arm talent. Tremendous presence. Sees the field really well. He’s so polished. Just an elite player.”

DeBoer doesn’t mind his offensive line being overlooked in the national narrative ahead of the game despite being recognized as the best in the country with the Joe Moore Award. Texas defensive lineman T’Vondre Sweat called UW’s line “nothing special.”

DeBoer continues to credit his front five with great execution of the team’s game plan. While Penix Jr. was pressured 20 times by Texas in the Sugar Bowl, he wasn’t sacked.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said Michigan’s front seven set the tone for the Rose Bowl, causing quarterback Jalen Milroe to hesitate against some looks and speed up reads and throws on others.

Wolverines sophomore defensive tackle Mason Graham, defensive MVP of the win in Pasadena, stressed Michigan wants to avoid letting Penix have time to make plays in our outside of the pocket.

“Obviously Penix is a great player. I feel like they have a great offensive scheme, just a great group of guys on the offensive side of the ball that can really make plays happen, and he’s one of the ones — he is the one — that makes their offense go. It all starts with him,” Graham said.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2024; New Orleans, LA, USA; Washington Huskies running back Dillon Johnson (7) is helped into the medical examination tent after being injured against the Texas Longhorns in the 2024 Sugar Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington OC: Dillon Johnson (foot) expected to play in title game

Washington running back Dillon Johnson should be able to play in next week’s College Football Playoff championship game, according to Huskies offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb.

In an interview with KJR-FM in Seattle on Tuesday, one day after the No. 2 Huskies beat No. 3 Texas in the CFP semifinal at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Grubb said Johnson’s X-rays were negative after reinjuring his foot late in the contest.

Johnson played through pain in the foot late in the regular season. He said before the Sugar Bowl that he “wouldn’t have been able to play” in the Pac-12 championship game without the assistance of painkillers.

Then, Johnson was brought down by the legs in the final minute of the Sugar Bowl and had to be helped off the field.

Johnson had 49 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Texas in the Huskies’ 37-31 win. He is Washington’s leading rusher with 1,162 yards and 16 touchdowns on 222 carries this year.

Washington (14-0) will meet No. 1 Michigan (14-0) in the national championship game on Jan. 8 in Houston.

–Field Level Media

Dec 1, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer reacts as players celebrate after the Huskies defeated the Oregon Ducks 31-34 to win the Pac-12 Championship at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Washington’s Kalen DeBoer voted AP Coach of Year

Kalen DeBoer was voted the 2023 Associated Press Coach of the Year on Tuesday after guiding Washington to a 13-0 record, the Pac-12 championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff.

The Huskies are 23-2 in two seasons under DeBoer, who received 30 of the 52 first-place votes and 113 total points in the balloting by the AP’s Top 25 poll voters.

Florida State’s Mike Norvell (57 points) finished second, followed by Missouri’s Eli Drinkwitz (38) and Jedd Fisch of Arizona (28).

“It’s all about the people around me. This is a team award,” DeBoer said told the AP. “When you win, I tell the players this, you win football games, you’re going to get recognized and more awards are going to get shared. I’m fortunate enough to kind of be the figurehead of our team and receive these cool awards. Just really blessed.”

DeBoer, 49, is the first Washington coach to win the award and the first Pac-12 coach honored since Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre in 2016.

Before inheriting a Huskies team that finished 4-8 in 2021, he was 67-3 with three NAIA championships at his alma mater Sioux Falls (2005-09) and 12-6 in two seasons at Fresno State (2020-21).

No. 2 Washington will face No. 3 Texas (12-1) in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day in New Orleans. The winner will play either No. 1 Michigan or No. 4 Alabama for the national championship on Jan. 8 in Houston.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) passes the ball against the Oregon Ducks during the first half at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Penix Jr., No. 7 Washington squeeze past No. 8 Oregon

Michael Penix Jr. threw four touchdown passes, including an 18-yarder to Rome Odunze with 1:38 remaining, as No. 7 Washington edged No. 8 Oregon 36-33 in a Pac-12 Conference showdown Saturday afternoon in Seattle.

Oregon’s Camden Lewis just missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt wide right on the final play that would have forced overtime.

The Huskies (6-0 overall, 3-0 Pac-12), stopped Oregon (5-1, 2-1) three times on fourth-and-3. Two of those were in the red zone and the other came with 2:11 left in the game as the Ducks went for it from Washington’s 47-yard line.

Penix completed a 35-yard pass to Ja’Lynn Polk, then hit Odunze down the left sideline for the winning score.

Penix was 22-of-37 passing for 302 yards, with Odunze making eight catches for 128 yards and two scores. Dillon Johnson rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

Oregon’s Bo Nix was 33 of 44 for 337 yards and two touchdowns. Bucky Irving rushed for 127 yards and a score, and Troy Franklin had eight receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown.

Oregon took a 33-29 lead on Jordan James’ 10-yard run up the middle with 12:58 remaining.

The Huskies’ drove to Oregon’s 1-yard line on their next possession but failed to gain any yards on two consecutive runs. On fourth down, Tybo Rogers was stopped for a 1-yard loss by defensive lineman Taki Taimani, a transfer from Washington.

The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, leaving the Huskies with a 29-26 advantage.

Penix threw a 17-yard scoring strike to Odunze to put Washington up 29-18, and Nix tossed a 30-yarder to Franklin and a two-point conversion pass with 1:36 to go to pull the Ducks within three.

The Huskies took a 22-18 halftime lead as Penix threw a pair of 26-yard touchdown passes — to Giles Jackson and Polk — and the defense made a late goal-line stand.

The pass to Jackson gave Washington a 7-0 lead with 10:49 left in the first quarter.

The Ducks responded with a 90-yard drive, with Irving scoring on a 12-yard run up the middle. Tight end Patrick Herbert rushed for the two-point conversion to give Oregon an 8-7 lead.

Penix hit Polk in the back right corner of the end zone to make it 14-8 after the first quarter.

Nix threw an 11-yard scoring strike to Herbert early in the second as the Ducks regained the lead, 15-14.

Johnson scored on a 7-yard run and Penix threw a two-point conversion pass to Jack Westover to put the Huskies up 22-15.

Lewis kicked a 45-yard field goal with 2:04 left in the half to make it 22-18.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2023; Stanford, California, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) celebrates with fans after defeating the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Washington, No. 8 Oregon prepared for marquee matchup

So just how big is Saturday’s matchup between No. 7 Washington and No. 8 Oregon?

It’s the first time both programs have been ranked in the Top 10 when meeting in the rivalry’s 123-year history.

ESPN’s “College GameDay” will be on hand in Seattle.

And the matchup features a pair of quarterbacks who are Heisman Trophy candidates: Oregon’s Bo Nix and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.

“This is what we tell young people: This is why you come to UW, for games just like this,” Huskies co-defensive coordinator William Inge said.

Both the Ducks (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) and Huskies (5-0, 2-0) are coming off bye weeks that helped them get healthy.

Huskies wide receiver Jalen McMillan is expected to return after missing the past two games with a leg injury suffered at Michigan State. Fellow receiver Rome Odunze appeared to injure his midsection while recovering an onside kick Sept. 30 at Arizona, but UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said Odunze is “ready to go.”

Two starters in Oregon’s secondary, cornerback Khyree Jackson and safety Bryan Addison, are also expected back after getting banged up Sept. 30 at Stanford.

The Huskies defeated the Ducks 37-34 last season in Eugene, Ore., on a 43-yard field goal with 51 seconds remaining.

Penix threw for 408 yards and two touchdowns, including a 62-yarder with 3:07 to go that tied the score. Nix passed for 280 yards and two TDs and rushed for 55 yards and another score.

Penix is the current Heisman frontrunner at +200, while Nix is the No. 3 betting favorite at +600, according to the latest odds from BetMGM.

Penix is averaging 399.8 yards per game with 16 touchdowns; Nix has an 80.4 completion percentage with 15 TDs.

Ducks coach Dan Lanning, previously the defensive coordinator at Georgia when the Bulldogs won a national title, said he’s never seen a conference with the quarterback talent the Pac-12 has this season.

“I think it’s really impressive. There’s great quarterback play in this league right now,” Lanning said. “And we’re going to see all of them. So this is certainly, I think, one of the best, if not the best, that we’ve seen so far.”

This will be Lanning’s first trip as a head coach to Husky Stadium, one of the loudest venues in the country.

“Hostile can be fun,” he said. “I think this one will be one of those environments where there’s gonna be a lot of distractions, a lot of pieces going on outside the puzzle, but we’re really focused on being the eye of the storm, the calm within the storm. And I think our guys will handle that well.”

Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer, like Lanning in his second season, also learned a lot about the rivalry last year.

“It’s fun, and it’s special,” DeBoer said. “It was big going on the road at that time, getting a win there. … You get so caught up just preparing, and you live in your own little world just as far as what the game plan is going to be.

“You learn a lot just so far as the excitement and the passion … Obviously, (Nos.) 7 and 8 in the country. So, a lot of great football is going to be played on (Saturday) for sure.”

–Field Level Media