This article is part of our College Football Picks series.
Alamo Bowl Picks: Washington vs. Texas Best Bets
Texas is back - in a bowl game that is. After a disappointing 4-8 campaign in 2021 and a tumultuous 8-4 season in 2022, this will be the Longhorns' first postseason appearance under second-year head coach Steve Sarkisian. It's also the program's third time playing in the Alamo Bowl in the past four seasons and its sixth appearance all-time.
The turnaround under a new head coach came one year earlier for Washington and Kalen DeBoer. The Huskies took flight under DeBoer's offense led by transfer quarterback Michael Penix, going from 4-8 last year to 10-2 this season. The program will also end its two-year bowl drought with its second appearance in the Alamo Bowl. The Huskies' 67-56 loss to Baylor in the 2011 Alamo Bowl actually set the record for most combined points scored in the 30-year history of the game.
No. 12 Washington and No. 21 Texas have already delivered some of the most entertaining games in college football this season, and there's plenty of reason to believe they'll cap off the year with yet another must-see performance.
Sports betting will be live in Ohio this weekend and those in the Buckeye State can get in on the action using the BetMGM Ohio Bonus Code.
Washington vs. Texas Betting Odds for Alamo Bowl
Spread: Texas -3 (-110 BetMGM Sportsbook), Washington +3 (-110 BetMGM Sportsbook)
Total: 67.5 (-110 FanDuel Sportsbook)
Moneyline: Texas -150 (DraftKings Sportsbook); Washington +140 (Caesar's Sportsbook)
Despite coming in as the lower-ranked team, Texas opened as the favorites and were even given a six-point expected advantage before the spread settled around the general consensus of 3. In 13 games, this will be the Longhorns' 12th time being favored as well as the team's 10th game in the Lone Star state. General viewers don't seem to have quite as much respect for Texas as Vegas does considering that 59 percent of the public money is on Washington +3, according to Covers.com.
This total is out of respect for these teams' ability to score. Both the Huskies and Longhorns rank in the top 20 of the FBS in scoring offense at 40.8 and 35.7 points per game, respectively.
Washington is 7-5 ATS with the over going 8-3-1. Texas has covered in eight of their contests while hitting the over an even 6-6.
Washington vs. Texas Betting Picks for Alamo Bowl
As mentioned above, both squads have a propensity for points. Washington reached a position as the fourth-ranked scoring offense thanks to its nation-leading 376.7 passing yards per game. Of the Pac-12 transfer quarterbacks that achieved career highs in 2022, Penix might be the most underrated. The Indiana transfer paced the conference in passing attempts per game at 41.7, and his 8.7 yards per attempt is behind that of only Oregon's Bo Nix (8.9) and USC's Caleb Williams (9.1) in the conference. It's easy to see why when watching the incredible arm strength Penix puts on his passes to top receivers Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan, both of whom have caught at least 70 passes for over 1,000 yards this season.
Texas' passing attack doesn't hold quite the same water despite the name-recognition of starting quarterback Quinn Ewers. Yet, advanced numbers suggest the overall offense is almost just as good as Washington's. The Longhorns rank 11th in rushing success rate (46 percent), 19th in passing success rate (44.5) and 11th in overall offensive success rate (45.3), according to @statsowar on Twitter. This is very promising for the over, especially when faced with a Washington defense that is 106th in rushing success rate (43.4), 98th in passing success rate (42.5) and 110th in overall defensive success rate allowed (42.9).
The truly crucial metrics come on third and fourth downs, however. Texas has a 37.2 success rate on third/fourth downs that ranks 102nd in the nation. But, this shouldn't be nearly as big of a problem against the Huskies' defense, which ranks 119th in third/fourth down success rate allowed at 48.5, per @statsowar. The Longhorns' defense is almost just as bad with a third/fourth down success rate of 44 percent, good for 92nd in the FBS. This otherwise stout unit's biggest weakness has also come through the air, ranking 75th in EPA per pass allowed (0.047).
Offenses that can move like these two combined with defenses that lack the necessary gumption to stop them should make for a track meet on the fast turf down in San Antonio.
Bowl Best Bet: Over 67.5 @ FanDuel Sportsbook
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Washington vs. Texas Predictions for Alamo Bowl
As is the case with nearly every bowl game that comes before New Year's Eve, the biggest determining factors could come down to who is actually suiting up between each team. The biggest opt outs have come on the Texas side between star running back Bijan Robinson and No. 2 rusher Roschon Johnson. They've been massive parts of the Longhorns' offense, accounting for 89 percent of the team's rushing yards and 52 percent of its total yards. Robinson is also second in the FBS for scrimmage yards per game this season at 157.8. This leaves some massive shoes to fill for No. 3 back Keilan Robinson, who has totaled 31 touches across 12 games this season.
There'll also be a heavy burden on Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers. The high-profile freshman has been rather up and down across his nine games with a 56.6 completion percentage and a 14:6 TD:INT ratio. Nevertheless, Texas' short-handed offense will be going against Washington's defense, so the Longhorns should still be able to get their points in this one too.
Meanwhile, every major offensive contributor will be suiting up for the Huskies. This includes Penix who announced he will forgo the 2023 NFL Draft and return for his senior season. He'll be facing one of the toughest defenses he's seen all year in the Longhorns' SEC-caliber front seven. However, this unit might not have the same game-changing potential without versatile linebacker DeMarvion Overshown, who is also opting out after finishing second on the team in tackles (95) and sacks (four) and third in passes defended (five). Washington's offensive line has also given Penix plenty of room to operate, allowing him to be sacked just five times across 12 games.
Both Washington and Texas have been great at preventing turnovers with 10 and 12 on the season, respectively. But, the Longhorns have routinely found ways to hurt themselves in losses this season, and, without three of the team's top players, it's likelier they're the ones to make a key mistake or two that end up costing the burnt orange a win during its last stand of the season.
Final Score: Washington 38, Texas 34