2023 Pac-12 Championship - Oregon v Washington
Getty Images

No. 2 Washington and No. 3 Texas are, as expected, in a barn burner through one half of football in the Sugar Bowl semifinal. Tied at 21, the two teams have exchanged touchdowns with the Huskies never pulling further away than seven points. The Longhorns have trailed three times but have proven capable of responding to every Washington touchdown with one of their own. With the Rose Bowl semifinal already producing a classic between No. 1 Michigan and No. 4 Alabama, the Sugar Bowl appears well on its way to unfolding in similar fashion.

The Huskies and Longhorns each boast a proud tradition, including national titles, but neither has ever won a College Football Playoff game. (Texas has never even made the field.) In the final year before the playoff expands to 12 teams, both schools have fielded teams with an aura of destiny that now stand just two victories away from the mountaintop. Texas ended Alabama's 43-game winning streak in nonconference home games earlier this season, and then marched to its first Big 12 title since 2009 in its final year as a conference member before it joins the SEC in 2024. 

Washington reached 13 victories for the first time in program history while winning a bitterly competitive Pac-12 in the final season before the league splinters apart. The Big Ten-bound Huskies have won 20 straight games under second-year coach Kalen DeBoer with star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. leading the way.

Three of the five all-time meetings between these schools have come in bowl games, all of which were decided by seven points or less. Considering what we saw from them this season, it would be no surprise if the Huskies and Longhorns play a classic.

Follow along with LIVE UPDATES as Texas battles Washington in the Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal. 

How to watch Sugar Bowl live

Date: Monday, Jan. 1 | Time: 8:45 p.m. ET
Location: Caesars Superdome -- New Orleans, Louisiana
TV: ESPN | Live stream: Fubo (Try for free)
For a limited time, new subscribers can save $20 on Fubo's Pro, Elite and Premier plans.

Texas vs. Washington: Need to know

Legacy game: Penix has cemented his place in Washington lore as he closes in on a second straight season leading the sport in passing yards per game. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist this season and boasts a 24-2 record as UW's starter. His counterpart, Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers, is building a legacy of his own. The Texas native transferred home after spending the 2021 season at Ohio State and has helped reinvigorate the program under third-year coach Steve Sarkisian. Ewers threw for a career-high 452 yards and matched his personal best with four passing touchdowns in the Big 12 Championship Game victory against Oklahoma State

Major trench battle: Washington won the Joe Moore Award, given annually to the nation's top offensive line. The Huskies have allowed only 11 sacks, which is tied for fourth fewest nationally and particularly impressive because of how often UW throws the ball. But the unit will be tested by the Texas defensive front, particularly in the run game. While the Huskies are known for their aerial attack, they keep defenses honest with running back Dillon Johnson, who enters with 1,113 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. Texas boasts the nation's No. 3 rushing defense, allowing just 2.87 yards per carry, and the Longhorns have gone seven straight games without allowing an opponent to average 4.0 yards per carry. If the Texas defensive interior is able to contain Washington's ground game, it could make the Huskies uncomfortably one-dimensional.  

Recent matchup: Washington beat Texas 27-20 in last season's Alamo Bowl, meaning these teams have familiarity with each other. Though some of the personnel have changed for the teams since then, the head coaches, coordinators and starting quarterbacks have not. The Huskies used long drives to build a 27-10 lead, and then held on in the fourth quarter as a Texas team playing without star running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson staged a rally that came up short.

Sugar Bowl prediction, picks

Odds via SportsLine consensus

The Texas offense found an unstoppable gear to close the season, piling up a combined 1,190 yards and 106 points in blowouts over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. If that version of the Longhorns shows up, covering the spread won't be a problem. Both teams are capable of ripping off huge plays in the passing game, but the Longhorns are better equipped to run the football and contain the run. Pick: Texas -4

Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned well over $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.