The Alamo Bowl features a clash between two teams that started the season with College Football Playoff aspirations.
The Texas Longhorns began the season ranked amongst the AP Top-10 and the Utah Utes ranked as high as 5th in the CFP rankings before both teams had the floor drop from under them.
#11 Utah Utes (-7) @ Texas Longhorns, 8:30 PM:
- Utah has covered the spread in each of the last seven games against non-AP ranked opponents.
- The Utes have covered the spread nearly 70 percent of the time this season with a 9-4 ATS record. The Longhorns have struggled in that category with a 5-6-1 ATS record.
- Texas is 0-5 outright as the underdog this season. (Stats courtesy of Statschecker).
#11 Utah (11-2) entered the PAC-12 Championship game as the #5 ranked team in the nation, needing only a win and a Georgia loss to reach the CFP Semifinals.
One of the two things happened - the Bulldogs lost but so did the Utes, falling to #13 Oregon 37-15 in the Pac-12 title game.
The Utes powered their way to double-digit wins for the first time since 2015 behind a dominant defense. Utah allowed the fifth fewest points per game in the nation (13.2 ppg).
Senior running back Zach Moss is one of the best and most proven backs in the country.
Moss has totaled over 1,000 yards rushing in each of the last three seasons, finishing with his most this year rushing for 1,359 – the 14th most in the nation.
He totaled the 12th most rushing touchdowns (15) and added 374 receiving yards with two reception touchdowns.
Fellow senior quarterback Tyler Huntley had a solid campaign, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards (2,966), 18 touchdowns and eighth fewest interceptions in the nation (4).
Texas (7-5) had a lackluster season for the Longhorns’ standards to say the least - winning only one of four ranked matchups (defeating #16 Kansas State 27-24).
The Longhorns ended the season trending downwards, losing four of the last seven games.
Junior dual threat quarterback Sam Ehlinger was about as dynamic as expected this season, throwing for the 13th most passing yards (3,462) and 14th most touchdowns passes (29). Ehlinger added 590 rushing and six touchdowns on the ground.
Senior wide receiver Devin Duvernay has been one of the best wideouts in the country this season, catching the second most passes in the nation (103) for the fourth most receiving yards (1,294).
My pick is Utah to cover the spread (-7) and the OVER Total of 55 points.
Both these teams are more than capable of putting points on the board - Texas averages the 17th most points per game in the country (35.0 ppg) while Utah sits right outside the Top-25 with 34.0 ppg.
Although the Utes have a sound defense, my expectation is the Longhorns will come out swinging early with the game being played right in their backyard at the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.
With that said, Utah is the overall better team and has playmakers on both sides of the ball.
The Utes should have no issues keeping up with the Longhorns and will figure out a way to win this game by two scores down the stretch despite the Texas home-field advantage.
Final score prediction: Utah Wins 35-27