Huskies Head South, Take Down Texas in Alamo Bowl


The Alamodome, pictured in the foreground, played host to the 30th annual Alamo Bowl in San Antonio

Trevor Butler, Sports Editor

There’s an old saying in Texas, “Remember the Alamo.” After winning their first Alamo Bowl, it won’t be one to forget for the Huskies. Kalen DeBoer’s first year at the helm saw the Huskies narrowly miss out on a PAC-12 title game appearance, having to sit at home and watch Utah and USC occupy the conference’s New Year’s Six spots.

After four straight wins opened the year for the Huskies, back-to-back losses at UCLA and Arizona State derailed the momentum UW had built up with an upset win against Michigan State. In hindsight, many fans use the ASU game as a what-if scenario, wondering what may have happened if the Huskies could have hung on in the desert.

Nevertheless, the Huskies were headed to San Antonio to play a de-facto road game against the Texas Longhorns. Located just an hour and ten minutes from the Horns home stadium, the Alamodome would play host to the 30th edition of the bowl game. It was the Huskies first appearance since 2011, when they lost a shootout to the Baylor Bears 67-65, while it was Texas’ first appearance since 2020, where they beat Colorado 55-23.

It had been an up and down season for the Longhorns to that point, having gone 8-4 with all four losses coming by one score, including a 20-19 loss to then #1 Alabama where freshman QB Quinn Ewers sustained a shoulder injury that would sideline him for four weeks, and a 17-10 loss to playoff participant TCU.

It was expected to be a high scoring affair, with the O/U being set at 66.5. Washington posted the 60th best defense in the country, while Texas came in at 30. With both QB’s being able to toss the ball around, and two defensive units who struggled with the aerial attack, the passing game was set to be on center stage.

The Huskies would receive the opening kickoff, but a Michael Penix Jr interception would hand the Longhorns the ball with only 59 seconds taken off the clock. Texas’ drive stalled, and Washington got the ball back. Penix rebounded and led the Huskies to a field goal, but the Longhorns responded with a field goal of their own to knot the game at three. After UW got the ball back, it was running back Wayne Taluapapa’s time to shine, as he broke off a 42-yard run for a score to put the Huskies ahead 10-3. The score would remain the same until the waning seconds of the half, where another UW field goal put them 13-3 ahead. “Even though we were up ten at half, I think the huskies could’ve had an extra touchdown if the ref hadn’t blown a pass interference call early on,” Izzie Westlund said. Texas corner Anthony Cook was given the benefit of the doubt on a call that was seen as questionable by Huskies fans, and likely saved a big play from putting UW in the red zone.

The second half began with Texas finally generating some momentum, as Quinn Ewers methodically led the Longhorns down the field, capping the drive off with a 34-yard touchdown grab and go from freshman running back Jonathan Brooks. While the Huskies were at full strength, Texas was without it’s best defensive player Demarvion Overshown, and their two superstar running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson, all three of whom had declared for the NFL draft and had opted out of the bowl game. This gave players like Brooks and wide receiver Casey Cain, who also had a breakout game for the Horns, the opportunity to develop for next season.

After a pair of punts by both teams, it was Penix’s turn to lead his team down the field, as he capped off a drive with a six-yard touchdown pass, his first of the day. The score put Washington ahead 20-10, a lead that would remain the same until the fourth quarter.

Washington seemed to ice the game early in the fourth, as Penix’s second TD toss of the day gave the Huskies a 27-10 advantage, one that seemed insurmountable for Texas’ struggling offense. That was until just four minutes later, when Jonathan Brooks punched in his first rushing touchdown of the game, cutting the lead to only ten. Huskies fans began to worry, as many knew of the Horns flair for the dramatic, as Texas seemingly always knew how to make it interesting right at the end. A stop and a Bert Auburn field goal made it a one possession game with 1:40 to go, and another quick stop gave the Longhorns life. At their own 25, Ewers gave sophomore wide receiver Xavier Worthy a chance to redeem himself from his bad day, having dropped two crucial passes in succession, including one that was a gimmie touchdown for the speedy receiver, as he already had separation on UW’s defensive backs.

Worthy could not come down with the redemption pass, and a Washington sack a play later secured the game for the Huskies. The win set the Huskies at 11-2 to finish the year, their best record since 2016 when they made the college football playoff. Texas finished the year at 8-5, losing every game by one score.

“I think Penix and a lot of new people stepped up this year. I like how the team was coached with good play calling and good execution, especially while under pressure,” Austin Riechelson said.

With Penix considered a Heisman Trophy frontrunner and the Huskies expected to return much of their talent from this season, 2023 could be a pivotal year for UW.