Utah Alamo Bowl Preview

All the college football teams in the state of Utah have fought hard and earned bowl eligibility. It’s time to see what bowl game they have all earned.

Since 2010, the Alamo Bowl has featured a PAC-12 team every year. Since then the PAC-12 is an unimpressive 3-6. This year the Utes make their inaugural appearance in the bowl and the Texas Longhorns make their 4th appearance in the game played in San Antonio. So far Nebraska has won the most with three Alamo victories in their history. Texas is 2-1 so they will be looking to tie the Cornhuskers in the history books.

Utah is an impressive 17-5 in their bowl history. Their latest win was over West Virginia in the 2017 Heart of Dallas Bowl. If that was any indication, maybe teams shouldn’t mess with the Utes in Texas. The Utes are a perfect 3-0 in the Lone Star State. They have won the Sun, Heart of Dallas, Armed Forces Bowls respectively. Winning their fourth won’t be easy by any stretch though.

Strengths:

1. The Sack Lake City Defense: The Utes have given up just 172 points which is best in the PAC-12. They will have to stifle a decent Texas team which has put up 420 points which was good enough for 3rd in the Big 12. Texas came within a touchdown of LSU that happens to be in the College Football Playoff.

The Utes thrive off the turnover margin. They have scored 4 defensive touchdowns and have converted 13 interceptions this season. They have also recovered 8 fumbles. They will need to win the turnover margin to be in good shape vs a Texas team that can put up points

2. Zack Attack: Zack Moss has rushed for more yards than any Ute running back which is impressive considering the amount of impressive backs the Utes have produced. He will need to work to help the Utes score touchdowns and not just field goals. The Utes are undefeated this season when he has at least one touchdown. In the PAC-12 championship game he did have an impressive 119 yards but didn’t reach the end zone. Part of that wasn’t his fault as there were some costly mistakes made in the red zone. The Utes will need to put up a decent amount of points to beat Texas. They aren’t holding the horns to single digits like they did to six teams this season. This is a good offensive team. The Utes have the advantage of being an elite defensive team and a balanced offensive team.

3. Coaching: Texas may have proclaimed they were “back” last year after beating a Georgia team in the Sugar Bowl. However, they haven’t had a big win this year. Say what you want about the Utes not beating a team with more than 7 wins but Kyle Whittingham has gradually improved the Utes back to the prowess they once had in the Mountain West. The PAC-12 was a struggle at first but they’ve made their mark.

Texas has been inconsistent despite having a great brand and a ton of money. The Utes have worked hard to build Utah into a consistent winning program. I give the Utes the edge here.

Weaknesses

1. Injuries: Julian Blackmon is injured. RJ Hubert is injured. These were tough blows in the PAC-12 title game. Blackmon leads the team in interceptions with four takeaways. It is a big loss to be missing a player that has such a big impact on what makes the Utes great.

2. Experience: Texas has been in big bowl games. If they were able to beat Georgia last year albeit a different roster they shouldn’t fear the Utes. They’ve been here before. The Utes haven’t really. The biggest postseason game the 5th year seniors will have played in was probably the 2015 Vegas Bowl vs BYU. This will be the toughest bowl opponent they’ve faced since perhaps the Boise State Broncos when they got routed 26-3 in the 2010 Vegas Bowl.

3. Momentum: The Utes might have some confidence issues after losing to good teams like Oregon and USC. Their best win was over a 7-5 Washington team. They are entering the Alamo Bowl with a loss while Texas enters with a win over Texas Tech. This could motivate the Utes but they will have to be the more physical team. They can’t just walk over Texas like they did vs Oregon State and Cal. They will have to bring the smash mouth football so that the Alamo will Remember the Utes.

Final Prediction: I have a feeling the Utes very well could lose this game but I think they find a way to barely eek this one out. Texas has 7 wins and so far this year, the Utes have found ways to beat this level of teams. Texas hasn’t had a big win this year. The Utes have a lot of wins but this could be their best one of the year if they go out with a victory. Utah needs a win. The Beehive State depends on it.

Final Score Prediction: Utah 35 Texas 28

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