Texas vs. Washington Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for Sugar Bowl

College football betting preview and best bets for the Sugar Bowl between Texas and Washington in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Nov 18, 2023; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze (1) celebrates a
Nov 18, 2023; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze (1) celebrates a / Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports
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Texas and Washington are set to meet in the College Football Playoff semifinals on New Year's Day in the Sugar Bowl.

Two of the most high octane offenses meet with a spot in each school's first College Football Playoff National Championship Game on the line. Washington is paced by the runner up for the Heisman Trophy, quarterback Michael Penix Jr., and arguably the most dynamic passing game in the nation. The team will face Texas, who has a loaded roster full of blue-chip talent and has spent most of the year overpowering opponents in the trenches, opening up the team's explosive passing attack.

Washington's undefeated run has been full of close calls, but the veteran roster has showcased poise throughout the year while Texas has ran through a formidable schedule with one slip up on a neutral site against Oklahoma, but both have Natinonal Championship upside, who will realize it and advance?

Here's our betting deep dive for the 2024 Sugar Bowl:

Texas vs. Washington Odds, Spread and Total

Washington vs. Texas Betting Trends

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Texas vs. Washington How to Watch

  • Date: Monday, Jan. 1
  • Game Time: 8:45 PM EST
  • Venue: Caesars Superdome
  • How to Watch (TV): ESPN
  • Texas Record: 12-1
  • Washington Record: 13-0

Texas vs. Washington Key Players to Watch

Texas

Quinn Ewers: Ewers has recovered from a shoulder injury that cost him two-plus games and is playing his best ball at the right time, carving up four straight opponents en route to a Big 12 Championship. In those wins, Ewers completed at least 65% of his passes with eight touchdown passes to three interceptions. He also passed for 280 or more yards in three of four with the only time being less it was a 57-7 romp in which he got most of the night off.

Washington

Michael Penix Jr.: The nation's leading passer at 4,218 yards, Penix Jr. answered the call many different times this season as Washington navigated the PAC-12 this season. The quarterback has a host of weapons at his disposal and Penix Jr. has kept the team on schedule all season. The Huskies bolster an efficient passing game, ninth in EPA/Play on a nearly 10 yard average per pass attempt. Further, the team is one of nine that is one of eight that is averaging at least seven yards per play.

Texas vs. Washington Prediction and Pick

Before I dive into the X's and O's on this game, it does feel like of the four teams entering the College Football Playoff, Washington is the most appreciative of near one month layoff ahead of this one. The Huskies played several one score games down the stretch and battled some obvious fatigue down the stretch. With some time off, the Huskies can get healthy and reset ahead of its toughest test of the season.

Washington evolved over the course of the season as the passing game slowed down during the back half of the schedule, but the emergence of running back Dillon Johnson and the team's secondary, headlined by Jabbar Muhammad, offset some concerns. Now, the Huskies are far more dynamic and not overly reliant on the passing game.

Overall, this is a group that rate as the 16th best rushing offense and eighth best passing offense in terms of success rate while also 16th in Pro Football Focus' coverage grade.

The Huskies will face a Texas team that has talent everywhere, but doesn't come without warts. The team lost 1,000 yard rusher Jonathan Brooks for the year to a torn ACL, and while the team has blue chippers in the backfield, the unit is far less proven.

However, the weak point of the Huskies defense is on the line, where the unit is bottom five in defensive line yards and 125th in success rate allowed. If Texas can establish the run with the likes of CJ Baxter, Jaydon Blue or Keilan Robinson, that can open up the Longhorns' downfield passing attack with Ewers, who is completing 72% of his passes on the year with a 21-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

It's worth noting leading receiver Xavier Worthy got hurt in the second half of the Big 12 Championship Game and was spotted on crutches, but we have no update as to his availability in the lead up to this game. Without him, the Longhorns are down its most devastating pass catcher, but the team is equipped with plenty of useful targets like AD Mitchell and tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders, among others.

Ewers has grown as a passer this season in Sarkisian's system that is incredibly quarterback friendly. His deep ball is still a question mark, completing only 32% of his passes of 20 or more yards which comprises about 11% of his attempts, but the scheme is so layered that he can mix the ball around the field.

Ewers is completing 72% of his passes between 10-19 yards (26% of his passes) and 83% of his passes inside of 10 yards and behind the line of scrimmage.

Texas is going to put pressure on Washington's secondary, but the Huskies have been fantastic at limiting chunk plays, fourth in explosive pass rate this season.

However, an inflection point in this game will come when Texas enters the red zone. The Longhorns infamously struggled to score inside the 10 yard-line against Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown and is 128th in the country in red zone touchdown percentage all year, finding the end zone on only 48% of trips inside the 20.

The Huskies are outside the top 100 in this metric on defense, allowing TD's on 70% of opponent's drives in the 20.

The game could be decided inside Washington's 20.

Meanwhile, Washington's offense, with plenty of time to prepare, may be able to challnege Texas' secondary. The defensive line is stout, allowing less than three yards per carry and rating top 10 in line yards, but the secondary can be had over the top, outside hte top 80 in explosive pass defense.

Washington has three future pros at wide out in Rome Odunze, Jalen Mcmillan and Ja'Lynn Polk who can all stretch the field and force Washington to drop some defenders in coverage. Overall, Texas is only 54th in coverage grade this season.

Texas vs. Washington Coaching Breakdown

With some key points laid out, let's talk coaching. Kalen DeBoer of Washington has emerged as one of the best in-game coaches in the sport. He's aggressive, yet calculated, which gives the team plenty of advantageous situations that can ultimately decide the game.

While we can talk about plenty of plays that go for or against you, sometimes its critical fourth down execution that alters the trajectory of the game, and DeBoer has been on the money plenty of times since arriving in Seattle.

I give him an in-game coaching edge against Sarkisian, who is a master playcaller but has dropped the ball at times in key spots, including against Oklahoma in the team's lone loss when the team settled for a field goal on what could've been the last drive of the game with more aggressive play calling.

Texas vs. Washington Pick

I believe the difference between these two teams is not this much and like Washington in the game. The team will have plenty of time to heal and catch its breath ahead of the Sugar Bowl and while both teams will bring plenty of offensive fireworks, I give the edge to DeBoer in what should be a back-and-forth affair and decided on execution.

Texas has the blue chip talent, but Washington has been in tight games all year, both high scoring and low, and I believe that type of big game pressure will have this team well equipped to pull the upset, or at least stay within the point spread on New Year's Day.

As for the total, I think both teams can score in this game with each team's talent at wide receiver. I expect aggressive play calling as well from both coaches, which can give short fields for each offensive unit on the fast track of the Superdome.

It's worth noting that both teams have elite special teams, each top five in PFF's grading. If the team does opt to play field position, that could open up some strong live betting opportunities to go over the total.

I trust Washington more, the team is battle tested and has showed up when called upon all season long and I believe this game will be full of big plays and likely determined on a Kalen DeBoer big decision, or mismanagement from Sark in a big spot.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

Track Reed's bets here!