The Utah Utes were 60 minutes away from a possible berth in the College Football Playoff before an unsettling loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship instead has them headed to San Antonio for a showdown with the Texas Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl. The Horns also had visions of a more prestigious postseason affair after opening the campaign ranked in the top-10, but they barely qualified for their third straight bowl under Tom Herman. Current college football odds have the Utes favored by a touchdown in a game that kicks off on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, December 31, 2019, from the Alamodome.
College Football Odds at BookMaker.eu
Utah Utes -7
Texas Longhorns +7
Utah vs. Texas Odds Analysis
It wasn’t the ending the Utes were hoping for, playing in the Alamo Bowl when a trip to the CFP was within their grasp. There is a gap in the team records with Utah winning four more games, but they also faced fewer ranked foes in a top-heavy Pac-12. The line surfaced with the Utes laying 6.5-points and was quickly wagered up to -7 where it’s been stagnant. That’s a sign that oddsmakers got it right or more likely the betting public is waiting to throw down on this contest. There has been no movement on the total, which remains at the opening number of 55.
It only makes sense to wonder how motivated the Utes are going to be after coming so close to a CFP berth. They were the likely No. 4 choice after Georgia was dumped in the SEC title game. But the Utes couldn’t seal the deal and suffered their own setback, 37-15, to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship. That ended a dominant run that saw Utah win and cover its previous eight games. Playing as a favorite in every game, the Utes went 9-4 ATS with eight of the games having a double-digit line.
This is a senior-laden team at key positions and it’s doubtful they let the disappointment linger in their final game. Zack Moss is evidence of that. The Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year rushed for 1,359 yards and 15 touchdowns adding 374 yards and two scores on 26 receptions. Staring at an NFL future, he is planning to play. “I just want to play with my guys. I definitely want to go ahead and finish it off,” he said. Brett Huntley led the conference in passing efficiency and the Utes averaged 34 points and 442.5 yards per game despite their poor showing against Oregon.
The Longhorns have to rank up there as one of the biggest disappointments. Following a 10-win 2018 campaign they entered the season at No. 10 in the rankings. They won four of their first five with the only setback a 45-38 decision in Week 2 to LSU, which turned out to be a pretty good team. The Horns closed the season losing four of seven and it could’ve been worse if not for a last second field goal to avoid a major upset against Kansas. The Horns were 1-4 ATS until finishing the regular season with a cover as a 9.5-point favorite against Texas Tech to go 7-5 SU and 6-6 ATS.
One thing Herman has done in his tenure is close the season with a bowl victory. The Horns won the Texas Bowl in Herman’s first season in 2017 and opened a lot of people’s eyes by taking down No. 6 Georgia in last season’s Sugar Bowl. While the Utes try to shrug off a heartbreaking loss, Texas overhauled its coaching staff since the end of the regular season. Gone is defensive boss Todd Orlando after Texas ranked 127th against the pass and 108th allowing 446.3 yards per game. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck was reassigned and two assistants on that side of the ball were fired.
Two very good offensive teams will clash in this matchup. The difference is that Utah will face a defense that was among the worst in college football. The numbers mentioned above were enough to force a change at the DC spot and that could be enough to inspire a group that allowed 306.4 yards per game through the air. And that’s good news for Huntley, who looks to wash the stench of his worst performance away. Huntley completed at least 63 percent of his passes in every game until facing the Ducks. He was just 17 of 29 in that game and matched his season interception total with two. Huntley attempted fewer than 20 passes eight times but completed 73.7 percent with 18 touchdowns. Utah will try and exploit Texas’ biggest weakness.
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