No. 1 Michigan stumps No. 2 Washington 34-13 in CFP National Championship game

Both teams entered the game 14-0 but only one emerged undefeated

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The business is finished -- the Wolverines have finally hunted their first national championship achieved through a title game.

No. 1 Michigan defeated No. 2 Washington 34-13 in the College Football Playoff title game in Houston on Monday, securing the program's first national championship in 1997 two seasons before the BCS started.

The result also put the Wolverines at 15-0 on the season, with head coach Jim Harbaugh finally delivering the big one for his alma mater.

Michigan wasted little time scoring on its first drive. Following a few J.J. McCarthy completions, junior running back Donovan Edwards took it to the house for a 41-yard score on his first carry.

After holding Washington to a field goal on its first drive, Michigan answered with another Edwards house call, this time from 46 yards. He got up to 87 rushing yards on his first two carries.

The Huskies finally scored their first touchdown a minute before the interval, when Michael Penix Jr. hit Jalen McMillan on a three-yard dart after a Wolverines failed fourth-down conversion at the Washington 38-yard line.

Washington, trailing 17-10, received the kickoff to start the second half and could've knotted it up, but Penix Jr. threw a pick on the very first play. Wolverines defensive back Will Johnson made an incredible effort to palm the ball after it nearly hit the ground.

The third quarter saw both teams exchange field goals, but Michigan fully took control in the fourth. Blake Corum found the end zone on a 12-yard run, then Penix Jr. threw a pivotal fourth-down pick in Michigan territory that was returned all the way inside the Washington 10 by DB Mike Sainristil. Corum would score from one yard out.

It was a nightmare game for Penix Jr. and Co., who never found consistent momentum despite the defense fixing up after allowing the first two long rushing scores. The 23-year-old Penix Jr., who could be a top-10 pick in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft, completed 27 of 51 passes passes for 255 yards, one touchdown and two picks.

The ground game never got going either, as Dillon Johnson, a 1,000-plus-yard rusher on the year, only logged 33 yards on 11 carries after suffering a lower-leg injury early on and fighting through it.

Meanwhile, McCarthy, another high-profile QB in the looming draft, completed just 10 of 18 passes for 140 yards, no touchdowns and no picks. He ran for 31 yards on four carries. Corum led the Wolverines with 134 rushing yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns with Edwards adding 104 ground yards and two scores on just six carries.

The season didn't come without controversy for Michigan, who had to be without Harbaugh on the sideline for three games following an alleged sign-stealing scheme. Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore stepped in for Harbaugh and kept the team rolling.

Michigan, the winningest program in NCAAF history, last claimed the national championship in 1997 under head coach Lloyd Carr, but it was due to finishing No. 1 in the final poll and not a title game. Harbaugh was hired in 2015 to help change that, but the program didn't win its first conference championship until 2021. The Wolverines then fell short in the CFP semifinal -- the Fiesta Bowl -- in 2022 before finally getting it done in 2023.

Washington has claimed two national championships, the most recent coming in 1991. But that was also due to polling, and the honor was split with Miami (FL). Penix Jr.'s rise under center and head coach Kalen DeBoer supplied newfound hope, but the Huskies' wait will have to continue.

The 2025 title game will be played under a new format that begins next season, so Michigan's potential repeat bid will feature new hurdles. That game will be played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., on Monday, Jan. 20.

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