Texas (12-1) vs Washington (13-0)
When: Monday, January 1st 2024
Where: Caesars Superdome,
New Orleans, LA
Time: 8:45 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Texas -5/64.5
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In what is expected to be a shootout, the Texas Longhorns will take on the Washington Huskies in the second semifinal game of the College Football Playoffs. You can get my pick for the Alabama/Michigan game over on our College Bowl Free Picks page. The winners of these semifinal games will meet on Jan. 8 in Houston. Texas is a 4-point favorite with a high total of 63 for this matchup in New Orleans.
Washington is currently on a 20-game winning streak dating back to October of the 2022 season after their perfect 13-0 campaign this year. Texas comes in at 12-1 with their only loss coming against Oklahoma early in the season. The Longhorns signature victory was a 34-24 road win at Alabama on Sep. 9 – a game that the committee obviously took into consideration.
During the regular season, both teams averaged more than 469 yards of total offense per game. Texas finished ninth in that category, while Washington was right behind at 10th. Neither team were considered as contenders for the national title coming into the season with the Huskies not even favored to win the Pac-12. Washington is in the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2016, while Texas makes their first appearance.
Under is 9-4 in Texas’ last 13 games as a favorite.
Under is 21-7 in Washington’s last 28 games as an underdog.
Huskies are 8-3-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Texas ended the regular season with a 57-7 blowout win over Texas Tech, then took care of Oklahoma State 49-21 in the Big 12 title game. Star receiver Xavier Worthy was injured in that game, but should be ready to go after the long layoff. The Longhorns survived a two-game injury absence of quarterback Quinn Ewers, who ended the season with 3,161 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. Leading rusher Jonathon Brooks, who had 1,139 rushing yards through the first 11 games, is out for the season after suffering a knee injury in Week 11. The Longhorns are led on defense by lineman T’Vondre Sweat, the Outland Trophy winner for best interior lineman, and linebacker Jaylan Ford, who led the Longhorns in tackles this season with 91.
Washington started the 2023 season with massive victories in their first four games before things got more competitive. The Huskies next nine wins all came by 10 points or less including a 34-31 win over Oregon in the Pac-12 title game as a 9.5-point underdog. Washington is led by Heisman Trophy finalist Michael Penix Jr., who led the nation in passing yards per game at 343.8. Washington had the No. 1 passing attack in the country, but were just 99th in rushing. The defense will also give up some yards and points. The unit ranked 122nd against the pass and allowed 23.6 points a game.
The key for me in this one is the defense. The Longhorns are much better on that side of the ball, although they will allow some yards through the air. Texas also has a more balance offensive attack, ranking in the top 25 in both passing and rushing. The spotlight won’t be too big for this Texas team after winning at Alabama earlier this season. The Longhorns will outscore Washington and get just enough stops on defense to win and cover this game.