TEXAS vs. UTAH – ALAMO BOWL PREVIEW (12-31)!
FINAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME OF DECADE PITS UTAH vs. TEXAS IN SAN ANTONIO!
VEGAS BETTING ODDS: UTAH (-7) vs. TEXAS ~ TOTAL: (54 1/2)
TEXAS OFFENSE (#15) ~ (172 RUSH, 296 PASS) vs. UTAH DEFENSE (#3) ~ (70 RUSH, 186 PASS allowed)
UTAH OFFENSE (#36) ~ (207 RUSH, 235 PASS) vs. TEXAS DEFENSE (#108) ~ (140 RUSH/ 306 PASS allowed)
Well things worked out well in many ways for Texas to be playing in a very solid Bowl Game, as Oklahoma went to CFB Playoff and Baylor took Sugar Bowl, leaving this game to Texas and a chance to play nearby in San Antonio, where they likely will fill the Stadium with their fans, making it a big payday for the Alamo Bowl heads. Utah was really just one final win over Oregon in the Pac-12 Title game from playing in the Final 4 of the CFB Playoff. But one thing happened, Utah got bombed by Oregon and had to settle for this Bowl game instead. One thing it’s often hard to determine is what teams are excited and what teams kids may be so disappointed in the Bowl game they ended up with, that they don’t come motivated. Utah is in this spot of the unknown, and to me it’s a coin flip whether it’s Up or Down. For Texas kids it’s a huge Up, and playing in it’s home state with a chance to salvage a somewhat disappointing season with a Win, I’d be shocked if they no showed here. Their biggest problem is the disappointing season also ended with both the OC and DC being fired, so the team will be not in a normal game day routine at all.
Let’s start with Utah, who was steam rolling everyone thanks to a #3 Defense that allowed nothing really to anyone after their heartbreaking loss on a Friday night TV game to open the Pac-12 season, a game they lost to USC, but actually dominated the game. After that loss, their only loss until the Pac-12 Title game, they simply destroyed everyone in their way, covering 8 straight games and most easily. Then came the almost unthinkable, they got blown out by Oregon 37-15, playing sloppy on both sides of the ball. This Utah team wasn’t just loaded on Defense, as the Offense scored 30 points or more 10x. They have one of the two best QB-RB combo’s in the nation in Huntley and Moss. The Defense just smothered the Run all season, allowing 70 rush yards or less in 10 of the 13 games and they allowed an absurd TD or less in 6 games. In fact the Defense only ended up in the Red Zone 25x all season, and then only allowed 10 TD’s to be scored. The sneaky hard part of handicapping them now is they ended up facing only 5 Bowl teams playing in a very weak Pac-12 Conference. When they finally played the one solid Pac-12 team, Oregon, they got ambushed. They ended up 0-2 facing Top 25 teams. So the stats are gaudy for sure, but also somewhat deceiving. I’ve told you often in my Previews to always be leery of only stats as your final handicapping guide, as sometimes stats can Lie. Utah’s Defense is truly loaded, but the stats vs. Texas will be misleading, as their top Defensive Player and a surefire Top NFL pick in the next Draft, CB Jaylon Johnson, will sit out to prepare for the Draft. The JJ’s of the CFB world do not grow on trees and facing a now Texas team finally playing both again with it’s outstanding WR Collin Johnson. So one stud Johnson is back and one stud Johnson is not going to play.
Texas got hit with a ton of key injuries this year, including losing Johnson for multiple games. But they still scored 27 points or more in 10 games with 5 games over 40 points. They still managed to hang in there most of the time, having 8 games decided by 11 points or less (half their games decided by TD or less), and playing both Oklahoma and LSU very close. They have a stud and a true Warrior at QB, Sam Ehlinger, so they will always be competitive and never mail it in. The biggest problem I’ve seen on Offense by Texas is the Offensive Line has been awful, yet they still managed to rush for 172 yards per game and pass for just shy 300 passing yards per game (296). This isn’t hard really to gauge Texas having success or not. If they rush for 150 yards or more they are (6-1). If they don’t, well not one win. Now Utah did give up a whopping 239 rushing yards to Oregon in the Pac-12 Title game, but only allowed over 100 one other game, vs. Arizona State (111).
SOME KEYS TO WATCH:
Utah’s Defense allowed only one team to pass for 70% pass completions (USC). They had allowed only 4 passing TD’s all season before allowing 3 to Oregon. Again though this was with one of the best Cornerbacks in CFB (J. Johnson) who won’t be on field New Years Eve.
Texas had two huge problems this season. One was the Offensive Line and the other was the Defenses TACKLING. They rarely did it on first try as they were just brutal in that department. Now the OL will face one of the toughest D Lines in all of CFB. Oh and they still won’t tackle well here either.
Texas faced the 7th hardest schedule in the nation, so don’t be too hard on their (7-5) record. They actually did OK when you look at all factors, allowing only (29) points a game. Again here they face a Utah Offense with a loaded QB/RB Offense that can pass or run it equally well. You can not just overly try to stop the run or pass by the Utes. Utah only failed to score 30 points 3 games.
Utah Defense was #1 stopping run and #13 vs. Pass, but again with stud CB Johnson. I can’t stress enough how outstanding that kid was. He was a superstar. The Defense though does have a game wrecker rushing the Passer in Bradlee Anae (12 1/2 sacks). He should feast on the Longhorns weak Offensive Line.
Texas HC Tom Herman has been one of the best ticket cashers when his team is the Underdog. Here they will be a TD doggie and he will surely use that as motivation. He is a perfect (3-0) in Bowls as a Head Coach and with all this extra time to get some of his banged up kids healthy, he may actually come into this game in the best shape it’s come into a game in months.
Utah HC Kyle Whittingham is an outstanding is (11-2) in Bowls, losing one of those two last season without his entire starting backfield. They will all be on field for this final rodeo of the year and the final CFB game played this decade.
This game has so many ways to handicap and some are things you can’t really handicap heading into a game as it’s a Bowl game. Teams have been off a month, and in Utah’s case a dream season ended with a huge thud in the demoralizing loss to Oregon. Does this team get back off the mat for this one or possibly mail in this one? Texas we know is thrilled to be playing, and getting stud WR C. Johnson back on field is gigantic for them. He is one of the most under rated receivers in the nation and will be so motivated to just be back on field. The Utes have a huge edge on both the OL and DL though and if they come inspired, Texas will have their hands full. I don’t rate this season as a bad one for Texas as they have 5 losses. LSU and Oklahoma played in Final 4. Baylor was a just miss Final 4 entrant. Iowa State and TCU are solid elite programs, even though TCU struggled this year. But remember for TCU HC G. Patterson, the Texas game is his biggie.
If CB Johnson played for Utah, I’d have to side with Utah, reluctantly laying points against Texas HC Tom Herman. But he isn’t and that to me makes me feel Texas QB Sam Ehlinger can have a bigger game now than he would’ve with Johnson blanketing the other Johnson at WR for Texas. Elingher lives for this type of game and will toss his body around like a rag doll for 4 quarters. We finally saw some cracks in the Utah Defense when some really talented Offensive players simply were un-coverable at times. Oregon had a strong QB and now Texas does too. If Texas OL can somehow hold up for 4 quarters, they can be tough in the later parts of the game as the crowd could will them to playing inspired late. Never underestimate a Home Crowd in your favor in a Bowl game.
I think this game is as good as it gets to end the decade of College Football with these two teams battling it out in the ALAMO (Bowl). Get your popcorn ready as we may get to see a back and forth game where two stud QB’s and two stud RB’s head out to prove they are they better ones at their positions. Two really savvy Head Coaches too who usually get everything out of their guys.
Well folks we’d like to wish you all a Happy New Years 20202. First and foremost may it be a HEALTHY Year ahead. Make it a fun one too and please never bet what you can’t afford to lose. Have fun betting games bet don’t let it be your lifes EVERYTHING. I am a Pro Bettor and this is what I do 24/7. If you don’t invest most of your time with Handicapping, make small bets and enjoy the games and win or lose, don’t let the outcomes ruin your daily lives. It’s been a fantastic season and we only hope all your future Wagers are WINNING ones.
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