Two of the biggest stars playing in Monday’s College Football National Championship are crediting God with their success, even amid the trials they’ve endured.
The game will feature the last two undefeated teams in the country as the prolific passing attack for the #2 Washington Huskies takes on the stifling defense of the #1 Michigan Wolverines. Though Michigan opens as a 4.5-point favorite going into tonight’s game, Washington has risen to the occasion in every big matchup it’s faced this season.
The main reason is Washington QB Michael Penix Jr., who finished as the runner-up in the closest Heisman trophy race since 2018. Penix played a near-perfect game against Texas to secure the Huskies’ National Championship ticket, going 29 of 38 for 430 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Penix took the opportunity after the game in his on-field interview with ESPN to express gratitude to God and to remind the world that he’s not a quitter.
“First of all, I’m gonna say that I’m not no quitter. I don’t want to say that I was gonna quit. It did get hard for me at times [in my career], you know, but I had to lean on the ones that I love the most. But it means a lot to be here. I’m super blessed, and I gotta thank the Man Above. I gotta thank God for everything that He’s put me through to get to this point. It’s been a blessing and I’ve been enjoying the journey,” the Huskies star said.
Penix was unsure he would ever get to this point as his collegiate career nearly ended several times. Starting his collegiate journey at Indiana University, the star QB sustained four separate season-ending injuries, including multiple ACL tears.
“There were times when I’d wake up the day of the game, and I’d wait until my roommate leaves, and I’d just lie on the floor and I’d just cry to God, just praying that He’d protect me that day. I knew where my head was at that time,” Penix told the Pac-12 Network at the beginning of the season.
Penix refused to quit and put His trust in God as he transferred to Washington in 2022. The QB had an impressive first season as a Huskie, winning 11 games and finishing second in the nation in passing yards. The stellar play continued this season, leading many analysts to project Penix as a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The Michigan Wolverines feature three-time all-Big Ten running back Blake Corum, who made several crucial plays against Alabama last week to get Michigan to the National Championship game. Corum set a new program record with the 56th touchdown of His collegiate career.
Much like Penix, Corum used his on-field interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe to express gratitude to God for the chance to be there:
“I don’t really know what to say right now, I’m just blessed. I want to thank God for allowing me to be here. This time last year, I wasn’t here, so I just want to thank God.”
Though in most circles he will be remembered as one of the greatest Michigan running backs of all time, Corum is no stranger to being public about his faith.
“Growing up, I’ve always wanted to give back,” Corum said in an interview with “Good Morning America” in 2021. “My parents always taught me: Believe in God. And God always gave. And so, give back.”
Corum was recognized as captain of this year’s Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his community service and ‘good works’ and received the Collegiate Social Service Award last January.
In his acceptance speech for the Collegiate Social Service Award, Corum pointed to the reason for his service:
“I’m a firm believer in Christ. Acts 20:35 says: ‘In all things I have shown you about working hard, in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ That’s why I’m here. I’m more than an athlete.
“God has blessed me not only with athletic abilities but the ability to give. The ability to put smiles on people’s faces. The ability to make people laugh. That’s what it’s all about. Life is about the small things — the smiles, the laughs, the get-togethers. That’s what I believe…Serving is what I believe God put me on this earth to do. I will continue to serve and bring communities together as long as I’m on this earth.”
Championship kickoff from NRG Stadium in Houston is 7:30 p.m. ET Monday.