NCAA Football Alamo Bowl: Texas/Colorado Preview

by Alec McMordie

This year’s Alamo Bowl brings together two old rivals from the Big 8 days. Texas and Colorado last played each other in 2009. Two years later, the Buffaloes joined Utah in the expanded Pac-12 conference. These foes reunite at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Texas entered the year with high expectations with 16 starters back from the group that finished a disappointing 8-5. The Longhorns concluded their season on a high note with a 38-10 upset victory over a Utah team that just missed making the college football play in last year’s Alamo Bowl. After a 2-0 start, Texas was upset at home against TCU the week before their annual showdown with Oklahoma. The Longhorns lost a heartbreaker in a four-overtime classic against the Sooners by a 53-45 score. Texas won their next three games before losing at home to Iowa State by a 23-20 score. The Longhorns responded in closing out their regular season with a 69-31 victory at Kansas State.

Sam Ehlinger completed 20 of 27 passes for 274 yards with two touchdown passes against the Wildcats. He has completed 60.1% of his passes for 2406 yards with 25 touchdown passes and just five interceptions. Ehlinger has added 382 rushing yards with another eight touchdowns. While he has one more year of eligibility, the senior has yet to announce if he plans to return to Austin for a final year or make himself available for the NFL draft.

Texas looks to win their seventh game of the season with a fourth straight victory in a bowl game under head coach Tom Herman. Their three losses were by 13 combined points. But after Ehlinger led the Longhorns to an upset win over Georgia in the 2019 Sugar Bowl, expectations got higher for this program.

Herman is managing several opt-outs in the latter part of the season. Senior left tackle Sameer Cosmi has left the team to prepare for the NFL draft. With senior center Derek Kirkstetter out with an ankle injury, Texas will likely have two freshmen starting on their offensive line. Wide receiver Brennan Eagles has also opted-out for this game along with a handful of players and defense.

Colorado was reeling in February when Mel Tucker left the program to become the Michigan State head coach after just one season with the Buffaloes. Karl Dorrell got hired to return to the program as the new head coach, where he once served as an offensive assistant for both Bill McCartney and Rick Neuheisel just weeks before COVID would wipe out their planned spring practices. He inherited 14 returning starters from a team that finished 5-7 for the third straight season.

Dorrell conducted one of the best coaching jobs of the season by leading a team that won four of five games, despite the logistical challenges and an inexperienced quarterback room. Sophomore running back Jarek Broussard emerged from nowhere to become the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 813 yards with a 6.3 yards-per-carry average. Senior Sam Noyer was steady under center despite having 41 career passing attempts going into the fall. He completed 58% of his passes for 1000 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions. The dual-threat quarterback added 191 rushing yards with five touchdowns while averaging 4.2 yards-per-carry. The Buffaloes are 16th in the nation by averaging 218.4 rushing yards-per-game.

Colorado won their first four games of the season with upsets against UCLA and Stanford to start their season. The Buffaloes got bypassed to represent the Pac-12 North in the Pac-12 championship game due to playing one less conference game than USC due to straight weeks of canceled games against Arizona State and the Trojans in late November. Colorado then lost their final game of the season on December 12th by a 38-21 score at home to Utah.

Senior linebacker Nate Landman will miss this game with an Achilles’ injury. It will be just the second bowl game appearance for this program in the last thirteen seasons.

BetAnySports lists Texas as an 8-point favorite with the total set at 63.5. ESPN broadcasts the game at 9 PM ET. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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