Sugar Bowl Playoff Semifinal – Washington vs Texas Free Picks

2023 Sugar Bowl: Longhorns Holding Steady at -4

Both Texas and Washington are in relatively good shape heading into the College Football Playoff semifinal on New Year’s Day. Neither side has any significant injuries or transfers to worry about, meaning it’s all systems go for the Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome.

After opening as a 5-point favorite, Texas has held steady at -4. The Longhorns are also -185 on the moneyline, with Washington coming in at +154. Meanwhile, the projected total is 63.5, down a smidge from 64.

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The winner will advance to play either Michigan or Alabama in the CFP national championship on Jan. 8 at NRG Stadium in Houston. Who has the edge? Read on as we break down both NCAAF teams and give our pick for the 2023 Sugar Bowl.

CFP Semifinal at the Sugar Bowl

Longhorns logo Longhorns vs Huskies Huskies logo

Day/Time:
Records: Texas (12-1) at Washington (13-0)
Location: Caesars Superdome; New Orleans
Streaming: ESPN

All Systems go for Longhorns

As expected, with a spot in the CFP national championship at stake, it’s all hands on deck for Texas. Steve Sarkisian’s team will have mostly its entire roster available for the 2023 Sugar Bowl, with a few exceptions.

Backup quarterback Maalik Murphy, who started two games this NCAAF season when Quinn Ewers was hurt, has entered the NCAA transfer portal along with safety Jalen Catalon and receiver Casey Cain. Nobody from that trio was expected to have a big role against Washington.

For Texas, the bigger question is health. Freshman CJ Baxter has seamlessly replaced star running back Jonathan Brooks, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. But the Longhorns are still dealing with injuries to cornerback Ryan Watts and receiver/returner Xavier Worthy. For what it’s worth, Sarkisian said he’s confident that both Watts and Worthy will recover in time for the college bowl.

Texas is sitting relatively steady at +270 to win the national championship, down only a smidge (+265) from Dec. 9. The Longhorns were priced +2500 in the preseason.

The Longhorns have been profitable for bettors, turning in a 7-5-1 record ATS. They’ve covered in their last three games as favorites and are 6-6 (11-1 SU) in that role. At the same time, the Longhorns have gone Under the projected total in eight of their 13 NCAAF games.

Perfection at Stake

Like Texas, Washington isn’t dealing with any major concerns on its roster for the 2023 Sugar Bowl. Backup quarterback Dylan Morris is in the NCAA transfer portal along with safety Vincent Nunley, who hasn’t played since Week 11.

The Huskies are also relatively healthy. That includes safety Asa Turner, who returned for the Pac-12 Championship Game and made it through without any noticeable issues.

At 13-0, Washington is one of four unbeaten FBS teams remaining in the NCAAF standings besides Michigan, Florida State and Liberty. Accordingly, the Huskies climbed to No. 2 in the CFP rankings and find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 Fiesta Bowl. The Huskies are +700 to win the national championship, easily making them the biggest longshot of the four semifinalists. They were +750 on Dec. 9 and +3500 in the preseason.

The Huskies’ hopes will again rest largely on quarterback Michael Penix Jr, who completed 65.9% of his passes for an FBS-high 4,218 yards, 33 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best all-around college football player and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Washington is just 6-6-1 ATS, including 3-5-1 over its last nine games. But it did cover both times as an underdog. The Huskies also went Under the projected total in seven of their 13 games, including each of the previous three.

Wonder No More, Washington’s For Real

Washington isn’t a traditional powerhouse like the other three semifinalists. Yet, it finds itself just two wins from a national title. All eyes will be on the Huskies’ potent offense, which ranked 11th in yards per game (469.1) while averaging 37.7 points.

Texas saw its share of big-play offenses in the Big 12 Conference and fared well against most of them, with the exception of Oklahoma. The Longhorns were especially impressive in the Big 12 Championship Game, outgaining Oklahoma State 662-281 in a 49-21 rout.

As it should, this is shaping up to be one of the most competitive bowls on the slate.

Washington vs Texas PICK

Penix Jr. is an exceptional talent, but this is where Washington’s storybook season ends. Look for Ewers and the Longhorns to make just enough plays to cash in as a -185 moneyline favorite and advance to the NCAA title game.

That said, we still think it’ll be close, making Washington an attractive pick to cover at +4. But be sure not to go any lower than +3.5.

Also, while both offenses are elite, the projected total of 63.5 seems a bit high. With that in mind, we’re siding with the Under.

For NCAAF scores and odds, betting analysis and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.


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