Washington Huskies previes: 2024 Sugar Bowl vs. Texas
Sports & Travel

Washington Huskies previes: 2024 Sugar Bowl vs. Texas

Washington Huskies

It’s the College Football Semifinals on Monday, January 1, as the second-ranked Washington Huskies face number three Texas at the Sugar Bowl.

The 12-0 Washington Huskies play on New Year’s Day in what some consider their biggest game ever. In the National Championship Semifinal, they face the third-ranked Texas Longhorns at the Sugar Bowl.

According to CBS Sports, UT is favored by 3.5 points. They also report the over/under is 63.5, so the score would be like 34 to 30. That shouldn’t phase the Huskies, as they were underdogs to the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship game, too. And they proved the critics wrong.

In the last matchup between these teams, the Washington Huskies won a 27-20 decision in the Valero Alamo Bowl on December 29, 2022. Both teams are obviously better a year later.

Over their previous nine contests, the Washington Huskies have kept the score close. The only game decided by more than a touchdown was a 52-42 road win against USC on November 4. The other eight games were seven points or fewer, including four decided by three points or less. Another tight game should put Washington in a favorable position.

Texas Offense

Texas has just one loss this season and is on a seven-game win streak, including a 49-31 victory over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship Game on December 2. That day, Longhorns’ quarterback Quinn Ewers had his best performance of the season, passing at 452 yards, 4 touchdowns, and an interception. Each touchdown thrown was to four different receivers.

Ewers is a highly-rated quarterback who manages the ball well. Going into the Sugar Bowl, he has just 6 interceptions on the season.

On November 11, against TCU, the Longhorns lost their starting running back, sophomore Jonathan Brooks, to an ACL injury. Freshman CJ Baxter, who has the second most carries on the team, picked up 595 yards and 4 touchdowns while averaging 4.6 yards per carry, is the new lead back.

Backing up Baxter will be sophomore Jaydon Blue, who has 56 carries for 339 yards and 2 touchdowns. The third running back should be senior Keilan Robinson. Seldom used with only 12 carries on the season, Robinson had two touchdowns in the Big 12 Championship game.

Junior Xavier Worthy leads an explosive quartet of Texas receivers. The junior had 73 catches for 969 yards and 5 touchdowns. Adonia Mitchell, another junior, is second in receptions with 51 for 881 yards and leads UT with 10 touchdowns. Next is tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, with 39 catches for 607 yards and 2 touchdowns. Fourth is senior wide receiver Jordan Whittington, who has 38 catches for 435 yards and a touchdown.

Texas Defense

The Longhorns play a base 3-4 defense, though it could vary. Against the Washington Huskies, expect Texas to use an additional defensive back.

This week, senior defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweet trashed talked on media that the Huskies offensive line happened to be number one in the country. A little bulletin board fodder is good for UW.

Reviewing his stats, Sweet has little to back up his comments. He has 42 tackles and 2 sacks (6th best on UT). Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix responded by saying his team isn’t afraid of any defense not named the San Francisco 49ers or Philadelphia Eagles.

Texas averages 36.15 points per game while only yielding 17.54. The Huskies could score almost twice as many. UT picks up 189.10 yards on the ground, which is greater than many teams in college ball. Their defense allows only 80.8 rushing yards. It’s a good reason why they generally win time of possession.

Through the air, UT averages 286.85 yards per game while giving up 240.85. A team like the Huskies, who are ranked second, are not too concerned about the passing stats on both sides, as most Pac-12 schools did better on the season. Washington will likely establish the passing game first, then give the ball to Dillon Johnson to run.

This game could come down to the team least affected by a four-week layoff. If the score is close, I expect the Washington Huskies to win since they have so many narrow victories this season. Go Dawgs!