UW HUSKIES

Here we go again: How are UW Huskies underdogs in Sugar Bowl?

Dec 3, 2023, 2:39 PM | Updated: Dec 4, 2023, 3:21 pm

UW Huskies Sugar Bowl Michael Penix Jr. Alamo Texas...

UW Huskies QB Michael Penix Jr. looks to pass against Texas in the 2022 Alamo Bowl. (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

(Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies are heading to the Sugar Bowl as the No. 2 team in the four-team College Football Playoff, where they will face the No. 3 Texas Longhorns.

CFP is set: No. 2 UW Huskies to face No. 3 Texas in Sugar Bowl

Washington isn’t just ranked higher than Texas. It has a better record, too, with the Huskies a perfect 13-0 this season while the Longhorns are 12-1.

Even better, UW faced this same Steve Sarkisian-coached Texas program in the Alamo Bowl at the end of last season, winning 27-20 in front of a partisan Longhorns crowd in San Antonio, Texas.

Yep, everything is adding up for the Dawgs to be favorites in the New Year’s Day national semifinal game. Everything except, well, the actual odds.

The season-long national disrespect for second-year head coach Kalen DeBoer’s unbeaten Dawgs just continues, as Texas was favored by four points in the Sugar Bowl as of Sunday afternoon, per ESPN BET.

Wouldn’t you think the country has learned its lesson about the UW Huskies by now? I mean, we just did this.

Damon Huard: Why No. 2 UW got the best path to national title in CFP

Washington is only days removed from pulling off a shocking upset in the Pac-12 Championship, beating No. 5 Oregon 34-31. And by shocking, I mean it was shocking that people considered it an upset. After all, it was the second time this season alone that the Huskies beat Oregon (now ranked No. 8), and the third time in the last two years.

Not only that, but UW was ranked No. 3 in the country ahead of the game by both the CFP and The Associated Press, two spots ahead of Oregon on both accounts. And Washington pushed its winning streak to 20 straight games over the past two seasons with Friday’s victory over the Ducks, whose own winning streak was just six games long because of their loss on Oct. 14 to, as mentioned earlier, the Huskies.

Then again, maybe this is exactly what the Dawgs want – the chance to play with a chip on their shoulder. That’s something Brock Huard of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk said last Monday when it was clear Oregon would be favored in the Pac-12 Championship.

“Maybe (that’s) putting that chip back on the shoulder instead of playing as the lead dog,” said Huard, a former UW Huskies quarterback who is now a college football analyst on FOX game broadcasts. “Now you’re at the back of the pack and nobody thinks you can do it. That can be a heck of a motivating tool.”

Motivating tool or not, it seems Friday’s win still didn’t convince everybody that the Huskies are deserving of even being in the College Football Playoff. Seriously. Here’s ESPN and SEC Network reporter Laura Rutledge’s take from Sunday morning:

So why is Texas favored over Washington? Honestly, I can’t find a good reason other than people are just more familiar with the Longhorns because of good old fashioned bias relating to time zones and location.

I mean, Washington is undefeated, and Texas isn’t. Washington and its current quarterback, Michael Penix Jr., beat Texas and its current quarterback, Quinn Ewers, last December. Washington is No. 1 in ESPN’s strength of record metric, while Texas is fifth. Washington is 11th in strength of schedule per ESPN, while Texas is 13th.

Or, I don’t know, maybe there’s a good reason the CFP committee ranked the Huskies No. 2 and the Longhorns No. 3? And let’s not even get started on the fact that unbeaten Florida State could have easily been in Texas’ spot.

Texas does have the edge in one metric over UW, though: game control. According to ESPN, game control “reflects the chance that an average top 25 team would control games start to end the way this team did, given the schedule.” The Longhorns are pretty good in this regard, ranked second in the country in game control. And to be fair, that’s way ahead of the Huskies, who are – *checks notes* – No. 3.

Oh.

What are you gonna do? If you’re the undefeated, No. 2-ranked UW Huskies, the answer is probably just do all you’ve done since mid-October 2022: win.

The ESPN Radio broadcasts of the entire College Football Playoff, including the UW Huskies in the Sugar Bowl at 5:45 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 1, will air live on Seattle Sports 710 AM and the Seattle Sports app.

More on Sugar Bowl-bound UW Huskies

Christian Caple’s takeaways from UW’s Pac-12 Championship win in Las Vegas
Recap: No. 3 Huskies rally to beat No. 5 Oregon, and secure CFP spot
Caple: As Odunze chases his record, Reggie Williams urges: ‘Give him the rock’
Michael Penix Jr.’s three best clutch plays for UW Huskies
Brock Huard: UW Huskies’ Odunze a blend of two NFL WRs

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