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Alamo Bowl prediction: Back Washington as a live underdog against Texas

In a battle of potent offenses, bet on the Huskies to cover the point spread and be in position for an outright upset

Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. finished eighth in Heisman Trophy voting this season. Penix comes into Thursday’s Alamo Bowl against Texas with 4,354 passing yards, 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. finished eighth in Heisman Trophy voting this season. Penix comes into Thursday’s Alamo Bowl against Texas with 4,354 passing yards, 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Read moreSteph Chambers / Getty Images

The Washington Huskies finished the regular season 12-2, closed on a six-game winning streak and are ranked 12th in the country.

They come into Thursday’s Alamo Bowl against Texas with the nation’s No. 2 overall offense and No. 1 passing offense led by a quarterback who finished eighth in Heisman Trophy balloting. They also arrived in San Antonio with a full roster — not a single player opted out.

And yet the Huskies are … an underdog? Against a Longhorns squad that has just one true quality win since the first weekend of October — a squad that won’t have its All-American running back?

Pretty sure you can deduce where we’re going with our Texas vs. Washington Alamo Bowl prediction.

Odds updated as of noon ET on Dec. 28.

Texas vs. Washington Prediction

  1. Washington +3.5, -115 (at BetMGM)

Texas vs. Washington Prediction: Analysis

The wrong team is favored in San Antonio — and we’re not the only ones who have that opinion.

The Alamo Bowl point spread opened as high as Texas -6 at several sportsbooks. By Tuesday afternoon, the Longhorns were down to a consensus 4-point favorite.

Now? Most spots have the line at Texas -3. Yep, the opening number has been slashed in half.

Unfortunately that means Washington has lost significant value. The bright side? It shouldn’t matter, as there’s every reason to believe the Huskies will win this game outright.

And we say that knowing this to be true: The Huskies’ defense is suspect, and its secondary is particularly atrocious.

Washington ranks 91st nationally in pass defense, surrendering 241.8 yards per game. Only 14 FBS teams allow more yards per completion than the Huskies (12.5); only nine teams allow more yards per pass attempt (7.82); and only one team has given up more passing touchdowns than Washington’s 25 (Michigan State allowed 26).

That’s quite concerning, given that Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers has both a rocket for a right arm and some impressive statistics.

Despite missing three-plus games with a collarbone injury suffered in a heartbreaking season-opening loss to Alabama, Ewers has thrown for 1,808 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.

However, a big reason for Ewers’ success was the threat of a rushing attack that churned out nearly 200 yards per game. That rushing attack was led by Bijan Robinson, who won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s No. 1 running back.

Robinson ran for 1,580 yards, averaged 6.1 yards per tote and scored 18 touchdowns. The junior added 314 receiving yards on 19 receptions (16.5 yards per catch) and scored two more TDs.

Major problem for Washington’s defense, right? Nope. Robinson declared for the NFL Draft and opted out of the Alamo Bowl.

So, too, did Roschon Johnson, who was Robinson’s primary backup. Johnson chipped in 554 rushing yards (6.0 per carry) and five scores.

That leaves Texas with three inexperienced running backs who have a combined 56 rushing attempts, 271 yards and four TDs this season.

Without Robinson and Johnson on the field, Washington’s front seven will be coming after Ewers all night — which, in theory, should take pressure off that aforementioned atrocious secondary.

Does that mean Ewers won’t connect on any big plays? Of course not — he still will put up big numbers. But losing two guys in the backfield who combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards absolutely will impact the Longhorns’ offense.

There will be no such impact for Washington’s explosive attack.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. — who transferred from Indiana — chose not to opt-out and declare for the NFL Draft. Penix had a tremendous senior season, completing 66 percent of his throws for 4,354 yards, 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

With Penix pulling the trigger, Washington averaged the second-most yards (521.7 per game) and fourth-most points (40.8) in the country.

Most importantly every player responsible for those numbers will be in uniform for Thursday’s Alamo Bowl.

Those players will face a Texas defense that is terrific against the run (123 yards per game). Against the pass? Different story. The Longhorns give up 239 air yards per contest (just 2.8 fewer than Washington).

And that was with star linebacker DeMarvion Overshown on the field. Overshown (95 tackles, four sacks) also opted out to prepare for the draft.

Finally, while Washington is riding a six-game winning streak — including road wins at Oregon (37-34) and Washington State (51-33) — Texas went just 3-2 down the stretch.

The Longhorns also were just 5-4 ATS in Big 12 play, all as a favorite. Their best wins: 49-0 over Oklahoma (which didn’t have its starting quarterback) and 34-27 at eventual conference champion Kansas State.

Apparently those victories were enough to convince oddsmakers that Texas should be favored in the Alamo Bowl, even without Robinson. We don’t share that conviction.

Take the points with Washington at BetMGM. And if you’re feeling frisky, put a little on the moneyline, as we like the Huskies to spring the upset.

Texas vs. Washington Odds: (via BetMGM)

  1. Point spread: Texas (-3.5, -105) vs. Washington (+3.5, -115)

  2. Moneyline: Texas (-160) vs. Washington (+135)

  3. Total: 67.5 points

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