Photo credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Texas Longhorns (8-4, 6-3 Big 12) close out the season against the Washington Huskies (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12) in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Thursday evening in San Antonio. After a 5-7 season last year under first year head coach Steve Sarkisian, the Longhorns have an opportunity to notch 9 wins for the first time since the 2018 season. The Longhorns return to a familiar bowl environment in San Antonio, where they have played five times before and gone 4-1 (Win – 2006, 2012, 2019, 2022; Loss – 2013).
Texas and Washington have met previously four times, with Texas holding a 3-1 record against the Huskies.
Will the 'Horns finish the season strong with a bowl win over Washington?
The HornSports Staff weighs in with their score prediction and thoughts on the game.
It's really hard to predict bowl games because of all the extra stuff going on. Texas has 3 players sitting out to prepare for the NFL draft and it's easy to wonder how motivated the Longhorns will be playing in the Alamo Bowl for the 3rd time in 4 years.
Washington is a really good team who has made huge strides in year 1 under Kalen DeBoer. Michael Penix is the real deal and Texas has shown to be leaky in the secondary at times this year. On the flip side, Washington is not very strong defensively and Texas should be able to move the football even without Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson.
I expect this to be a close game. Right now, Michael Penix is the more polished and experienced QB compared to Quinn Ewers, so I'll be taking the Huskies in what should be an exciting game.
Score Prediction: Washington 34, Texas 31
Texas will be without several key contributors in this game which makes the task at-hand even more difficult against a really good Washington team. The Huskies have arguably the best offense in the country and Pete Kwiatkowski's defense will need to step up their play if the Longhorns want good things to happen on Thursday night. The 'Horns secondary has been up and down this season, and their ability to limit big passes from Huskies quarterback Michael Penix will be the storyline in this year's Alamo Bowl. If Quinn Ewers can connect with his receivers, particularly on deep routes, Texas has a chance to pull off the win. I like Texas to win IF they can win the turnover battle and get things clicking on the ground. In the end Washington is simply too much offensively and Texas loses a close one.
Score Prediction: Washington 37, Texas 34
The Horns have a tall task ahead of them as they take on the #12 ranked Washington Huskies in San Antonio on Thursday... without Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson, DeMarvion Overshown and others. That being said, Texas is still favored against the 10-2 Huskies, who have won 6 straight games. Let's take a quick look at both teams.
For Texas offensively, missing their best player might have a bit of an impact. That being said, the young backs behind Robinson and Johnson like Keilan Robinson, Jonathan Brooks and Jaydon Blue are more than capable of making some big plays. That being said, Washington has a strong run defense. So, expect WR Xavier Worthy to be the focus point of the offense and look out for guys such as TE Ja'Tavion Sanders and WR Jordan Whittington against the somewhat lackluster Huskies secondary. For Washington, it starts and finishes with QB Michael Penix Jr.. Penix Jr. isn't afraid to throw the deep ball as he leads the league in deep attempts and has a combination of wide receivers who can do it all, especially Rome Odunze who has a 70/1088/7 stat line on the year. Their run game isn't great as it's just not their style of play, but their offensive line has been impressive all season long.
On defense, Texas HAS to communicate well in the secondary and create early pressure in the pocket on Penix Jr. as he only has 86 rushing yards this season. Playing without LB DeMarvion Overshown is a huge blow, but LB Jaylon Ford has been an absolute monster this season and seems to be the leader of the Texas defense moving forward. For Washington, the focus should be on creating pressure and confusion on QB Quinn Ewers. The young gunslinger has struggled heavily in the second half of the season and is without his best player in Bijan Robinson. Ewers will have to step up to get the job done for the Longhorns, and I think Washington knows that.
Personally, I expect a bit of a shootout and some big-time plays being made all game. If the Horns had Robinson, my pick would be different... but give me the Huskies in a close one.
Score Prediction: Washington 40, Texas 34
On Thursday, the Longhorns will look to end their second season under head coach Steve Sarkisian on a high note.
Although there will be several notable absences in the Longhorns starting lineup, including Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson and DeMarvion Overshown, the team certainly will still field a competitive bunch. However, will a competitive bunch be able to beat the twelfth-ranked team in the nation?
Washington's junior quarterback Michael Penix Jr. leads the nation's top-ranked passing offense and will look to bury the Longhorns in San Antonio's Alamodome. Conversely, Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers will look to salvage what has been a shaky first year under center for Steve Sarkisian.
The Longhorns have the athleticism to keep up with the Huskies and, thankfully for them, are fortunate to have benefitted from running back depth this season. As a result, Texas redshirt freshman running back Jonathon Brooks will have to have himself a career day in order to keep the Longhorns in the contest. Lastly, Quinn Ewers will have to have himself an Oklahoma-like game in which he shows off his passing chops.
While I am admittedly tempted to pick Washinton, I think that Texas pulls this one off late, thanks to some home field-esque magic in San Antonio.
Score Prediction: Texas 34, Washington 31
Bowl picks are tricky with there being such a long layover between games among other factors to account for. Although I'm usually bearish on the strength of the Pac-12, I think Texas may be missing too much to acquire the W with basically their entire run game on the sideline preparing for the NFL Draft. A run game that Sark has relied upon heavily recently in order to offset Quinn Ewers' late season struggles. Kwiatkowski's unit should hold up their end of the deal as they almost always do, but much like against TCU this can't be a game where one unit is consistently propping up the other. Washington will be an excellent test, but I'm uncertain Texas' offense can keep pace in their current state.
Score Prediction: Washington 38, Texas 30