Why Texas Will Win
– It took all year, but the offense finally found its groove. It lost a heartbreaker at home to Iowa State, but the passing attack worked on the was to 448 yards of total offense. The team picked it up the following week with 608 yards and 69 points against a Kansas State team looking for something positive.
Super-recruit Bijan Robinson grew into a running back role, tearing off 113 yard on 12 carries gains West Virginia, and running or 172 yards and three touchdowns against Kansas State. He’s good, QB Sam Ehlinger has been in big bowl games before, and the offensive backfield should work just fine.
– Colorado does a whole lot of things well, but the secondary is about to get hit. The Texas backfield might be solid, but this should be when the passing attack goes off against a Buff defense that allowed over 300 yards in the first two games and only didn’t give up more over the next few games because it played teams that didn’t throw. Utah was able to balance out its attack with a 240-yard day out of Jake Bentley.
Ehlinger isn’t going to screw up. He threw 25 touchdown passes and five picks on the year and hit over ten yards per pass over the final two games. 3-0 as a starting quarterback in bowl games, he has four touchdown passes and one pick with 154 rushing yards and four scores. He knows what he’s doing.
– It’s been a theme early on this bowl season, and it’s not that difficult. The team with the 1) stronger quarterback and 2) doesn’t have a turnover issue wins. Texas has the better quarterback, and it doesn’t turn the ball over with just one giveaway over the last four games. Colorado turned it over six times in its last two outings.
Why Colorado Will Win
– Colorado has a star in RB Jarek Broussard. The freshman was worked from the start with a 31-carry day with three scores in the win over UCLA, and he tore off 301 yards in the win over Arizona. Overall the Texas defense wasn’t too bad against the run, but it had its rough moments.
It allowed over 200 yards three times – two times came in the losses to TCU and Oklahoma. Colorado has to maintain some sort of steady ground attack to pull this off.
– Colorado gets into the backfield. The pass rush was okay, but it found ways to always get behind the line to apply pressure and make big plays against the run. LB Carson Wells and company combined for 43 tackles for loss including 33 over the last three games. The Texas offensive line has been fine this year, but Ehlinger likes to try making things happen. That’s going to be a problem against this defensive front, which is a further issue because …
– The Buff defense was a killer on third downs. Usually, Texas is great at being able to keep the chains moving thanks to Ehlinger, who’s brilliant at fighting for first downs with his legs as well along with the short passing game. This year, not so much.
The Longhorns converted 49% of their third down chances in 2019 and over 46% in 2018. This year? 39% and didn’t hit 40% in three of their last four games.
Colorado led the Pac-12 allowing teams to convert 34% of their attempts.