The Sugar Bowl is just over a week away, and there are still many unanswered questions about the game. It’s the most unpredictable game Texas has played since the Oklahoma game, which is cause for concern.

365 Sports has its own concerns about the matchup. Some of the questions that will determine the matchup were addressed by host Paul Catalina.

The physicality of Texas was the first of their matchup defining topics. Will Washington be able to match that physicality? Much of the game will be decided by whether the Huskies can hold their own in the trenches.

In college football’s postseason honors, Washington’s offensive line won the Joe Moore award. The award is given to the best offensive line in the country. On New Year’s Day, we’ll see if those who gave the unit the award made the right decision.

Let’s look at the questions posed by 365 Sports about the game.

5

Is Washington physical enough to beat Texas?

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Catalina rightfully noted the physical nature of players like defensive tackles T’Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy as well as linebacker Jaylan Ford as players to contend with in the matchup. Texas is not pushed around by anyone. You simply hope to get just enough in their way to have successful plays. Washington will need to do just enough to hold its own.

4

What team makes a special teams play?

Texas Longhorns defensive back Kitan Crawford (21) blocks a punt by Oklahoma kicker Josh Plaster (36) during the game at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. The blocked kick was receovered by the Longhorns for a touchdown.

If the game comes down in any way to special teams you have to like Texas’ chances. Save for a blocked punt against Kansas State and a couple other special teams miscues, the Longhorns often have the advantage on special teams.

3

Can Washington get anything on the ground?

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I tend to believe Washington will find success in the running game due in large part to what Texas will concede protecting against the pass. The Huskies should have a solid day on the ground, but I am unsure it will be a deciding factor. The team’s passing attack will be the key on offense.

2

Can Texas handle the Washington wide receivers?

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Washington has one of the more dynamic receiving corps’ in college football. Even so, they didn’t exactly run away from Texas last season. As we’ve noted over the last week, the leading receivers for the Huskies were Jalen McMillan with 58 yards, Rome Odunze with 57 yards and Ja’Lynn Polk with 45 yards. The longest reception was a 35 yard pass to Polk. Quarterback Michael Penix threw for 5.3 yards per attempt.

I would have more concern with Washington’s defense defending Texas offense. Washington is No. 120 nationally in pass defense and takes on Texas’ sneaky-good No. 18 passing attack. Add in what the Longhorns add in the running game, and the team should put up plenty of points.

1

Whose skill players win out?

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Undoubtedly, Washington’s receiving corps will want to have a better showing than it did last season. It will be worth watching whether or not head coach Kalen DeBour frees up one of the top receivers for big plays. As for defending Texas, the Huskies’ secondary better be ready to tackle. Expect a heavy dose of screen to Longhorns wide receiver Xavier Worthy and perhaps even a screen or two to tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders. The Washington defense neutralized the Texas skill players last year. Can newcomer receiver Adonai Mitchell be the difference? We’ll have an answer on Jan. 1.