Allstate Sugar Bowl: Texas Longhorns vs. Washington Huskies preview | College Football

• Pressure will be key for Texas: The elite interior duo of T’Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy II will hope to knock Michael Penix Jr. out of rhythm often in this contest.

• A game with shootout potential: Texas’ stout run defense and Washington’s propensity to attack through the air should lead to a barrage of deep passes.

• Dig into the numbers for yourself: PFF’s Premium Stats is the most in-depth collection of NFL and NCAA player performance data. Subscribe today to get full access!

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Player to watch for Texas: DI Byron Murphy II (90.8 PFF Grade)

Texas boasts arguably the best defensive line in college football with Murphy and T’Vondre Sweat manning the interior. They are the highest-graded defensive tackles in the country and make it nearly impossible for any team to run on the Longhorns.

While Sweat ranks better against the run, Murphy thrives against passing offenses like Washington. He places fifth among all interior defenders in pressures (40), which has earned him an elite 91.5 pass-rushing grade. Texas will desperately need that pressure against Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who rarely takes sacks.

Player to watch Washington: WR Rome Odunze (88.1)

While Michael Penix Jr. may have finished second in the Heisman race, it’s no secret that wide receiver Rome Odunze is Washington’s best player.

Odunze has come through in a handful of clutch moments this season, and the Huskies likely would not be undefeated without him. He is the third-ranked wide receiver prospect on PFF’s big board. He has the most contested catches (17) in college football and ranks second in first-down pickups (66). That effort led him to earn a terrific 87.9 receiving grade in 2023.

Keys to a Texas victory

Texas may eliminate Washington’s ground game, but the Huskies like to throw more anyway. Both teams bring elite receiving corps and weaker secondaries to the table, so this could be a high-scoring affair. The Longhorns will need to take advantage of Washington’s defense, which has given up the fifth-most passing yards this season.

That said, Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers plays well on big stages, earning a 90.3 PFF grade against Alabama back in September. He played well against the Huskies in their 2022 bowl game (369 yards and two big-time throws) and has improved twofold since then. If Ewers has a big game, his draft stock will only keep rising.

Keys to a Washington victory

Washington’s usual game plan may work perfectly against Texas. Running the football is never easy against that front seven, so the Huskies need to stick to their guns on the outside to take the top off the defense, as they’ve done successfully all year.

The Huskies lead the nation in 15-plus-yard pass plays (118), and with wide receiver Jalen McMillan finally back and healthy, Washington’s offense has a whole new dynamic in the slot. This game could be a shootout, and that’s a script from which Penix thrives.

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