SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Byron Murphy returned a deflected interception 66 yards for the game’s only touchdown to lead No. 10 Washington to a 10-3 victory over No. 17 Utah in an offensively challenged Pac-12 championship game Friday night.
In a matchup of the two stingiest defenses in the conference, neither offense could get much of anything going at all. So it was only fitting that a dropped pass by Utah (9-4, No. 17 CFP) led to an interception for Washington (10-3, No. 11 CFP) and the only touchdown.
Both teams had been held to just one field goal when the Huskies broke through late in the third quarter.
Jason Shelley’s pass hit Siaosi Mariner in the hands inside the Washington 35. But Mariner couldn’t hold onto the pass and it ricocheted off his leg and into the hands of Murphy, who raced 66 yards for the score that made it 10-3.
Jordan Miller intercepted another pass from Shelley on the following drive and Murphy got his second interception of the game the next time Utah had the ball. The Huskies sealed the victory with a fourth-down stop in the final minute to earn a trip to the Rose Bowl.
The Huskies had four drives of at least 10 plays but got only one field goal out of those. They were stopped on a fourth-and-6 from the Utah 23 on the opening drive, threw an interception in Utah territory on the third drive and had a field goal blocked in the fourth quarter.
The one score came on Peyton Henry’s 29-yard field goal late in the first half. That was enough to give Washington a 3-0 lead at the break but the Utes tied it with a score on the opening possession of the third quarter when Matt Gay’s 53-yard field goal just cleared the cross bar.
Utah: The Utes made it to the title game despite losing quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss to injuries in a four-day span in early November. Shelley and Armand Shyne stepped in and let the Utes to three straight wins and a spot in this game but they weren’t good enough against the Huskies. Shelley’s three interceptions were his first turnovers as a starter. He threw for just 137 yards. Shyne ran for 37 yards on 11 carries.
Washington: The Huskies came into the season with playoff hopes but a season-opening loss to Auburn and then a pair of losses to Oregon and California in October ended that quest. But Washington still managed to win the conference and will go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 2000 season.
Utah: Bowl game to be determined.
Washington: Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.