(Photo: USA Today)
It has been over a month since Texas beat Baylor inside DKR to end the regular season. Now the Longhorns will take the field for the final time in 2022 as they travel down to San Antonio to face Washington in the Alamo Bowl. The Huskies, led by first year coach Kalen DeBoer, finished the regular season with a 10-2 record and feature one of the most explosive offenses in the country.
DeBoer made a name for himself as an offensive coordinator at Indiana and head coach at Frenso State. He was able to reunite with his old Indiana QB this year, bringing in Michael Penix from the transfer portal. Penix has been outstanding all season, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns. The lefty loves to push the ball down the field and possesses good accuracy. His favorite targets are Jalen McMillan (70 catches) and Rome Odunze (71 catches). Both have over 1,000 yards receiving and have combined for 15 touchdowns. Odunze stands at 6'3 and is their 'go up and get it' receiver. Ja'Lynn Polk serves as the number 3 receiver and is averaging over 17 yards a reception.
Virginia transfer Wayne Taulapapa shares backfield duties with Cameron Davis. Taulapapa leads the team in carries (126) and yards (779), but Davis has more rushing TD's (13). Washington ranks towards the bottom of the country in a lot of rushing statistics. The Huskies do most of their damage through the air.
The Washington OL is outstanding in pass protection, aided by Penix's ability to navigate the pocket and extend plays. They are an average run blocking unit. The Huskies will start 3 seniors on the interior with redshirt sophomore Troy Fautanu holding down the LT spot and redshirt freshman Roger Rosengarten at RT.
Washington does an excellent job of getting to the QB, and it all starts up front with Jeremiah Martin and Bralen Trice coming off the edge. The duo has combined for 16.5 sacks and 22 TFL's. As a team, Washington has 35 sacks for the season.
The Huskies are definitely stronger against the run than the pass, as they rank 105th in opponent completion %, 101st in passing yards allowed per game and 118th in opponent passer rating. The backend of the Washington defense only has 7 interceptions on the season.
Safeties Alex Cook and Asa Turner have been solid at times this year, but have been vulnerable to big plays. If there was ever a game for Quinn Ewers to get on track, this is it.
This is a very interesting matchup on paper. The Huskies were a bad loss against Arizona State away from playing in a NY6 bowl and potentially knocking on the door of the CFP. Texas has some advantages in this game, but they will be playing without Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson and DeMarvion Overshown. A win by Texas in this game would be a big momentum builder heading into 2023.