The second College Football Playoffs today's semi-final could lack some of the star power of the Rose bowl. This could end up being the best matchup with two of the most explosive offenses going head to head.
Washington has the passing of quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and three of the nation's best receivers, led by Rome Odunze and Ja'Lynn Polk, who both reached 1,000 receiving yards. If Texas focuses too much on the pass, the Huskies can turn to Dillon Johnson (1,113 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns). The Longhorns counter with their own quarterback in Quinn Ewers, with Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell being his two primary receiving options.
Expect a lot of points to be scored and the team that comes up with the critical defensive stops to win. Our experts choose which team will advance to next week's title game.
The key to Washington's success is to at least try to make a run at Texas, which has only allowed five opponents to gain 100 rushing yards all season. But if that doesn't work, the Huskies will leak it, as they led the nation in passing yards per game behind Heisman runner-up Michael Penix, Jr. But the Longhorns' interior lines on both sides of the ball will too hard. and Quinn Ewers makes enough plays for Texas to advance to its first appearance in a title game since the 2009 season. Texas 38, Washington 34.
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Texas is probably better, but I'm tired of banking on Washington's magical ending. I bet too much against Washington this year, only to see the Huskies repeatedly come away with close victories – against a pretty tough schedule. It has value. I think they're doing it again. Washington 35, Texas 28.
Texas can stop Washington's running game, but won't be able to do the same when Michael Penix drops back to pass. The fact that the Longhorns can make the Huskies a little more one-dimensional, however, is a big deal and a huge factor in what could be a high-scoring game and the antidote to a more slowed Rose. The bigger issue is whether Texas can get to Penix and disrupt the pocket. If that's the case, the Horns would have to get past Washington to set up a rematch with the Tide. Texas 37, Washington 24.
Washington has more weapons and the ability to outgun Texas. The question will be whether the Huskies can gain enough on both sides of the line of scrimmage to take advantage of quarterback Michael Penix and the nation's top receiving trio. The Longhorns need to be able to establish the run and slow down the game because they haven't been tested by a dynamic offense except in a loss to Oklahoma. They'll do enough to upset Penix's rhythm and possess enough of the ball to sneak in with the win. Texas 30, Washington 23.
This gives the feel of one of those “last team with the ball wins” games. If it indeed comes down to clock management in the final moments, I trust Kalen DeBoer to handle it better than Steve Sarkisian. It's really a toss-up, but I'll go with the Huskies in a track meet. Washington 48, Texas 45.
The biggest difference in this matchup is the Huskies receiving corps, which is now fully healthy, versus the Longhorns' questionable secondary. Washington is going to have guys open all day. So who wins the matchup between the Huskies' elite offensive line and Texas' elite defensive line? If Washington can protect Penix enough and take a little out of his running game, it will be very difficult to slow him down. Washington 35, Texas 31.