Last Pac-12 team to win national championship in football: Washington can break title drought against Michigan

The Pac-12 will cease to exist after this year, but there’s no question that it will go out with a bang. In the conference’s final season, it has sent a representative to the national championship game with a chance of bringing home the ultimate prize.

Before Washington takes the field in the Big Ten for the first time next year, it will play one last game at the highest stage against No. 1 Michigan in Houston. Led by star quarterback Michael Penix Jr., Washington will look to repeat the type of success it had in its 37-31 win over Texas against a defense unlike any it’s faced all season.

Washington ranks No. 10 in overall offense but will face Michigan’s fortress of a defense that ranks No. 2 in pass defense, No. 8 in run defense, and No. 1 overall. The Washington offense vs. Michigan defense matchup will be a key thing to watch with the Wolverines a 4.5-point favorite. 

Here’s everything to know about the Pac-12’s history in the college football title game over the years as it looks to go out with a bang.

When is the last time the Pac-12 won a national championship?

No Power Five football conference has gone longer without a national championship than the Pac-12. The last time a Pac-12 squad took home a national title was when USC topped Oklahoma 55-19 in the 2004 Orange Bowl. 

On June 10, 2010, the program was required to vacate its two final wins from the 2004 season. Those wins included the December 2004 victory over UCLA and the BCS championship victory, in addition to the entirety of all wins from the 2005 season after an investigation by the NCAA into potential violations by both USC’s football and basketball programs.

The Trojans were officially stripped of the 2004 BCS title in June of 2011. The Associated Press, though, still recognizes USC as the 2004 AP title winner.

“The B.C.S. arrangement crowns a national champion, and the B.C.S. games are showcase events for postseason football,” the series’ executive director, Bill Hancock, said in a statement at the time. “One of the best ways of ensuring that they remain so is for us to foster full compliance with N.C.A.A. rules.

“This action reflects the scope of the B.C.S. arrangement and is consistent with the N.C.A.A.’s approach when it subsequently discovers infractions by institutions whose teams have played in N.C.A.A. championship events.”

Pac-12 national championship history

One of the primary reasons for the demise of the Pac-12 is its lack of success in the postseason, including getting into the championship game in the first place. It has now been roughly two decades since a team from the Pac-12 brought home the greatest collective honor in college football.

The Pac-12 snapped its six-year College Football Playoff drought this season with the Huskies advancing to the big stage. With this, Washington has become just the second team in Pac-12 history to ever make it to the title game.

The last to do it was Oregon, who fell to Ohio State following the conclusion of the 2014 season, 42-20.

Power 5 conferences’ most recent national championship

Among the Power 5 conferences, the Pac-12 is the only conference with a longer championship drought than the Big 12, who last won a title in 2005.

Since ’05, the SEC has won 12 national championships, while the ACC has claimed three (Florida State in ’13 and Clemson in ’16 and ’18). The Big Ten has one, won by Ohio State in 2014.

Conference Most recent championship National title team
SEC 2022 Georgia
ACC 2018 Clemson
Big Ten 2014 Ohio State
Big 12 2005 Texas
Pac-12 2004* USC*

*USC was the last Pac-12 team to win a national championship as determined by the BCS or College Football Playoff, in 2004. The Trojans’ 55-19 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl has since been vacated.

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