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BC Eagles soar

Michigan, Washington to face off in college bowl championship

Jimmy Myers
BC Eagles soar
BC quarterback Thomas Castellanos breaks free against SMU in the Wasabi Fenway Bowl. PHOTO: COURTESY BOSTON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

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While New England college football fans relish the Boston College Eagles’ 23-14 upset of 24th-ranked Southern Methodist University in the second-ever Wasabi Fenway Bowl, the top football headlines belong to the No.1 ranked Michigan Wolverines and second-ranked Washington Huskies, who recorded tension-filled victories in their respective NCAA Division 1 college football playoff games.

The weather was a crucial factor in the BC-SMU contest as the Mustangs from Dallas struggled all day with Fenway Park’s rainy and cold, 35-degree conditions. The BC Eagles, basically playing a home game, used the elements to their advantage, rushing for 262 yards —156 by University of Central Florida transfer quarterback Thomas Castellanos. He also made an occasional play with his arm while SMU freshman quarterback Kevin Jennings completed just 50% of his passes (24-for-48 — for 191 yards) while overthrowing several receivers on downfield plays.

BC snapped a three-game losing streak to finish its season with a 7-6 record, and its first bowl game win since 2016.

SMU, the champions of the American Athletic Conference, came into the contest riding a 10-game win streak. They ended up closing out their year with an 11-2 mark, the highest win total since 1982.

The two teams will meet again in Dallas, Texas, when SMU joins the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. The SMU players left the 35-degree weather of Boston with revenge on their minds. It should be a spirited rematch when the two teams meet again. 

Michigan running back Donovan Edwards shares a congratulatory handshake with teammate after their Rose Bowl win. PHOTO: COURTESY NCAA

The race for the national championship of Division I College Football is now down to two combatants, No. 1 Michigan and No. 2 Washington.

The top-ranked Wolverines needed a late fourth-quarter drive to tie the Rose Bowl contest at 20, forcing an overtime session, the second overtime in 110 editions of the Rose Bowl game. Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy and star running back Blake Corum (a huge 27-yard reception on a fourth down and two situations) made the big plays in a 75-yard drive, which culminated with a McCarthy to Roman Wilson 4-yard game-tying touchdown with one minute and 34 seconds left in regulation. Michigan got the ball first in the overtime period.

Corum rushed for 8 and 17 yards on just two plays (Note: overtime rules give each team possession of the ball from the opponent’s 25-yard line) to score what proved to be the game-winning touchdown. Corum’s 56th career rushing touchdown moved him into the number-one spot on the school’s all-time list. Alabama saw its overtime possession end on a failed rushing attempt by quarterback Jalen Milroe on a fourth down from the 3-yard line.

The Rose Bowl triumph is the first College Football Playoff win for Michigan following losses in the semifinals each of the last two seasons.

It is the first bowl win for Michigan since the 2016 Citrus Bowl (2015 season, Jim Harbaugh’s first at Michigan) and snaps a six-game bowl losing streak, tied for the second-longest in FBS history.

Michigan’s opponent in the National Championship game will be the Huskies of the University of Washington.

The Huskies rode the brilliant passing of All-American quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to a thrilling 37-31 triumph over a game University of Texas squad in the Sugar Bowl. Penix, who many people feel was robbed of the Heisman Trophy after finishing second to LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, continued his spectacular assault on the college football record books. He was the first player with 4,500 passing yards in consecutive seasons since Patrick Mahomes in 2015-16 and the first player to do so in PAC-12 history, as he shredded the Texas Longhorns defense for 430 yards and two touchdowns, completing 76% of his passes while rushing for 31 yards on three runs.

Some poor clock management almost cost Washington a chance at victory. But the Huskies defense stopped Texas inside its 10-yard line in the final seconds to preserve the victory.

The Huskies, the first team in PAC-12 history to win 14 games in a season, are seeking their second national title in the AP poll era (1991 co-champion with Miami). The team has won 21 straight — the longest active win streak in FBS and one shy of tying the longest in program history (22 from 1990-1992).

A more impressive statistic is that the Huskies have won each of the past 10 games by 10 points or fewer, the longest such streak by any team in the AP poll era since 1936.

The Wolverines and the Huskies enter this year’s College Football Playoff National Championship game on Jan. 8 in Houston, Texas, with identical 14-0 records. When the smoke clears, one of these teams will be undefeated and national champions of Division I College Football.

Boston College football, Michigan Wolverines, Sports, Washington Huskies