WHO: No. 11 Utah (11-2) vs. Texas (7-5)
WHAT: The 27th Valero Alamo Bowl
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas
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THE SKINNY: It’s the final game of the decade, and the ultimate battle of wills as Tom Herman puts his 3-0 bowl record on the line against Kyle Whittingham‘s 11-2 bowl mark. Irresistible force, meet immovable object.
Both of these teams aimed higher than San Antonio, as Texas entered the season thinking it would be back in the Sugar Bowl at worst, while Utah had designs on Oklahoma’s Peach Bowl slot as late as Championship Friday. As always, motivation and participation could be a pivotal factor here. On that front, Texas will enter with an advantage as Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson will skip the game to recuperate for the draft, while Longhorn wide receiver Collin Johnson opted in.
Up front, this feels like a mismatch in favor of the Utes. Utah averages 2.3 sacks per game, while Texas surrenders 2.7 a game, tied for 106th nationally. Utah also leads the nation in rushing defense (70.3 a game) while Texas’ running game comes and goes; Keontay Ingram posted three 100-yard games and five with 30 yards or fewer.
The Texas defense figures to play fast and loose with Todd Orlando no longer attempting to diffuse an atomic bomb with every play call, and the guess here is that helps Texas spring the upset.
THE LINE: Texas, +7
THE PICK: Texas 30, Utah 26