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Author: Mike Ianniello
Texas vs. Colorado Odds
Time | TV
The Texas Longhorns enter the postseason ranked No. 20 in the nation after a 6-3 season in Tom Herman’s fourth year as head coach. Texas lost its three games by a combined 13 points, including a four-overtime loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown.
The Longhorns will take on Colorado for the first time since 2009 when the Buffaloes were still a member of the Big 12 Conference. Texas has beaten the Buffs in five straight games by an average margin of 32.8 points.
Colorado enters this game after a five-game Pac-12 sprint that saw the Buffaloes go 4-1. They started the year with four straight wins in their first season under Karl Dorrell before falling to Utah, 38-21, to finish the regular season.
No team has made more Alamo Bowl appearances than the Longhorns, who will be making their fifth appearance in San Antonio. Texas is 3-1 in the Alamo Bowl, including a 38-10 win over Utah last season.
The Alamo Bowl will most likely mark the final game of an incredible career for Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger. The four-year starter finished the regular season with 2,406 yards, 25 touchdowns and just five interceptions passing to go along with 382 yards and 8 touchdowns rushing.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound quarterback has led the Longhorns in rushing touchdowns in each of the past three seasons.
If Ehlinger doesn’t come back for an additional year, he will finish second in Texas history in completions, passing yards and touchdowns.
Leading receiver Brennan Eagles will not play in Tuesday’s game, but Joshua Moore — who led the Horns in touchdowns — and Jake Smith are expected to be available for Ehlinger.
Texas has been without Keaontay Ingram since Oct. 31 after he opted out mid-season, but it has a pair of young running backs who have stepped up.
Sophomore Roschon Johnson and freshman Bijan Robinson have each averaged over 5.5 yards per carry this season. In the final game of the regular season, Robinson rushed for 172 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries, while Johnson went for 139 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.
The Longhorns should be able to overcome the opt-outs on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense is a little different story.
The Texas defense will be without edge rusher Joseph Ossai (All-Big 12 first team), safeties Chris Brown (All-Big 12 second team) and Caden Sterns, and defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham.
The Longhorns defense has done a solid job of stopping the run this season, ranking 36th in the country in Rushing Success Rate. It allowed just 3.6 yards per carry, 25th in the nation.
Texas is still expected to have linebacker Juwan Mitchell, who led the team in tackles this season. It should also have interior linemen T’Vondre Sweat and Keondre Coburn ready to help clog up the middle, and each weighs 348 pounds.
Where the Longhorns defense struggled was against the pass. It allowed 274.2 passing yards per game and ranked 114th in passing Success Rate on defense.
The question is whether or not Colorado will be equipped to take advantage of the weak and undermanned Texas secondary?
After three straight 5-7 seasons, the Buffaloes exceeded expectations this year, finishing 4-1 in Dorrell’s first season, earning him Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors in the process.
The other Buff to take home a Pac-12 trophy is running back Jarek Broussard, who was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.
Broussard finished his first season as the Colorado starter with 813 yards and three touchdowns in just five games. His 162.6 yards per game was the second-most in the country, highlighted by his 301-yard performance against Arizona.
Colorado had the 13th-highest rushing rate in the country this season, keeping the ball on the ground on 60% of its offensive plays.
Quarterback Sam Noyer, who actually played safety for the Buffs last season, has been more dangerous with his legs than his arm this season. Noyer has rushed for five touchdowns on the ground while throwing six touchdowns and five interceptions.
Colorado ranks 95th in Passing Success Rate this season and is super young at the receiver position with its top three receivers being either sophomores or freshmen.
After really struggling last year, the Colorado defense has been terrific in its first season under Dorrell. The Buffs rank 44th in the country in total defense but sixth in terms of Success Rate.
Colorado has been especially tough against the run. Defensive tackle Mustafa Johnson and linebackers Carson Wells and Nate Landman do a great job as the strength of this defense.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The biggest area Texas will suffer from players opting out is in its secondary. However, Colorado isn’t built to exploit that and doesn’t have the personnel to throw the ball all over the field. The Buffs rank just 95th in Passing Success Rate.
Say what you want about Herman, but Texas is 3-0 in bowl games with him at the helm, winning by an average of 17.3 points per game, including a 38-10 win in last year’s Alamo Bowl over a Utah team that was much better than this year’s team that just beat Colorado with ease.
Ehlinger is also 3-0 in bowl games and will likely finish his historic Longhorn career on Tuesday night. Ehlinger is one of the few players in college football who can seemingly take over a game by himself.
As The Action Network’s Steve Petrella pointed out, it’s rare for the underdog to cover the spread but lose the game during bowl season.
It’s hard to trust that Colorado, after such a small sample size, is good enough and has enough talent to win the game outright over Texas, so I’m willing to lay the points with the Longhorns.
There are rumors about COVID-19 issues at both schools, so it’s probably wise to wait until closer to game time to possibly get a better number.
But as long as Ehlinger is on the field, it will be that time of year again where we all will be asking ourselves, “Is Texas back?” on Wednesday morning.
Pick: Texas -9.5 or better.
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Author: Mike Ianniello