The 2019 Alamo Bowl pairs two teams that entered the season with aspirations of reaching the College Football Playoff.
Coming off of a Sugar Bowl win over Georgia last season, Texas was ranked No. 10 in this season's preseason AP Top 25 poll, while Utah played Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship for the chance to potentially make the playoff for the first time.
The 2018 Longhorns reminded the college football world of the impact that a meaningful bowl win can have on offseason discourse and future expectations for a program, and an Alamo Bowl win could potentially go a long way in that regard for either program heading into the 2020 season.
Utah vs. Texas: Alamo Bowl time, TV channel
The 2019 Alamo Bowl will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 31, in San Antonio, Texas.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
Alamo Bowl game preview, key stats
According to the SP+ rankings, which stands for "success" and "pace," Utah entered bowl season as the No. 9 team in the country, while Texas ranked No. 29.
Both teams have two units that rank in the top 15 nationally with the Utes boasting a strong offense-defense balance at No. 12 and No. 10, respectively, while the Longhorns' offense ranks No. 11 and their special teams unit ranks No. 12. So while both teams fell short of their goals in their respective conferences and nationally, these are still two of best offenses in the country.
However, Utah's defense has proven it's much more capable of keeping opposing offenses in check than Texas.
Prior to losing 37-15 to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship, Utah had allowed just 25 total points over its previous three games and eight of the Utes' opponents this season scored fewer than 14 points.
Utah had five AP All-America selections across the three All-America teams, including four on defense — cornerback Jaylon Johnson, safety Julian Blackmon, defensive end Bradlee Anae and defensive tackle Leki Fotu.
Meanwhile, Texas' defense, which has been hampered due to injuries (Texas' Sports Reference page lists 18 players on the injury report), ranked No. 77 nationally, according to the SP+ rankings entering bowl season.
No. 1 LSU put up 45 points in Austin and Texas allowed Kansas to score 48 points in a high-scoring Longhorns victory.
While Utah's top personnel is concentrated on its defense, running back Zack Moss was a second team AP All-American after rushing for 1,359 yards and 15 touchdowns and quarterback Tyler Huntley had a really efficient season, completing 73.7 percent of his passes for 2,966 yards, 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Huntley has the second-most rush attempts on the season, behind only Moss, and similarly, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger plays an important role in the Longhorns' ground game.
The preseason Heisman hopeful was Texas' leading rusher in terms of attempts with 152 attempts for 590 yards and six touchdowns, while he has thrown for 3,462 yards, 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Wide receiver Devin Duvernay (103 receptions for 1,294 yards and eight touchdowns) had a breakout season and his 2019 campaign was lost in the shuffle nationally in a year in which there was tremendous top-end depth at wide receiver across the country.
Texas, under coach Tom Herman, has a reputation for getting up for big games and a bowl game against No. 11 Utah would certainly fall under that category. The Longhorns were just 1-3 against ranked opponents this season but two of those losses were against playoff teams in LSU and Oklahoma. Both losses were by one score, although Texas scored a touchdown in the final two minutes of each game to perhaps make the final score appear closer than the game actually was.
Here are notable stats for each team:
|No. 11 Utah||STAT||Texas|
|QB Tyler Huntley (2,966 yards)||Leading Passer||QB Sam Ehlinger (3,462 yards)|
|RB Zach Moss (1,359 yards)||Leading Rusher||RB Keaontay Ingram (745 yards)|
|TE Brant Kuithe (523 yards)||Leading Receiver||WR Devin Duvernay (1,294 yards)|
|LB Devin Lloyd (85 tackles)||Leading Tackler||DB Brandon Jones (86 tackles)|
Utah vs. Texas: Alamo Bowl prediction
No. 11 Utah 31, Texas 24