Texas responded with each touchdown Washington scored in the first half as the Longhorns kept up pace in a punch, counter-punch affair. Then Washington pulled away on Monday night in the second half only for Texas to take the Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal down to the wire. But Washington escaped with a 37-31 victory only after Texas had a pair of passes fall incomplete in the closing seconds.

Texas got a big boost thanks to a pair of timeouts and an injury to Washington’s Dillon Johnson, which gave Texas a chance to start a drive with 41 seconds remaining. The Longhorns then marched to the Washington 28-yard line after a sideline catch by Jaydon Blue.

Washington will get a shot at its third national title in program history, and its last as a member of the Pac-12 before moving next season to the expanded Big Ten. Texas fell short in its quest to claim a 5th national title, and its last as a member of the Big 12 before it moves to the SEC for the 2024 season.

Texas made it interesting initially when former Georgia wide receiver Adonai Mitchell caught a 1-yard pass with 7:23 remaining to pull within 6 points. But Washington responded with a field goal to seal the victory.

The Huskies will meet Michigan, which beat Alabama in the Rose Bowl, for the first time since the 2021 season when Michigan won in Ann Arbor, 31-10.

Here are our 3 takeaways from the Sugar Bowl:

Second-half drought for Texas

Texas appeared to run out of gas in the 2nd half. The Longhorns mustered just 34 yards in the 3rd quarter, including just 5 passing yards as they ran just 5 plays. The 2 drives ended with a fumble and a punt as the hopes of a trip to Houston appeared to evaporate.

Another fumble in the 4th quarter ended a 5-play drive.

Longhorns capitalize on muff punt with Big Man TD

Washington didn’t make many mistakes in the first half, but Texas took advantage of a major error, and used a Big Man touchdown to cap it off.

Trailing 14-7, Texas punted the ball back to Washington with more than 10 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. That’s when Germie Bernard muffed the punt and Bryce Chambers of Texas recovered it so the Longhorns took over at the Washington 22-yard line.

Texas took full advantage as defensive tackle Byron Murphy punched it in to tie the game just a few plays later.

Big plays for Washington, few for Texas

The Huskies are built this way, but the Texas secondary still struggled to contain the big pass plays from the Washington offense. There were 4 Washington plays in the first half that went for at least 29 yards, including one for 52 yards and another for 77 yards. Those were big reasons why Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. had 305 yards by halftime.

Texas, meanwhile, hit just one big play in the first half, a 31-yard pass from Quinn Ewers to CJ Baxter. Meanwhile, Mitchell’s first catch came with 6:15 left in the 3rd quarter.