Valero Alamo Bowl
Oregon 30, Texas 7
Basically … Oregon controlled the game from the start with a pick six from Avery Patterson just over a minute into the game. Texas made it an interesting first quarter with a one-yard Case McCoy touchdown run to make it 10-7 Oregon, but it was all Ducks the rest of the way with 20 unanswered points on two of Matt Wogan's three field goals and a 16-yard Josh Huff touchdown on a fly-sweep pass before the D was at it again on a 38-yard Derrick Malone interception return for a score.
- Penalties: Oregon 11 for 87 yards – Texas 4 for 35 yards.
- Total yards: Oregon 469 – Texas 236
- Oregon QB Marcus Mariota completed 18-of-26 passes for 253 yards and a score and ran 15 times for 133 yards.
- Oregon WR Josh Huff caught five passes for 104 yards and a score.
- Texas RB Malcolm Brown ran 26 times for 130 yards.
- Texas QB Case McCoy completed 8-of-17 passes for 48 yards with two interception returns for scores.
- Oregon DT Taylor Hart lead all defenders with 11 tackles with a tackle for loss and half a sack.
- Oregon FS Avery Patterson made nine tackles with an interception return for a touchdown.
- Texas DE Jackson Jeffcoat made six tackles with a sack and a forced fumble.
Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon (10-2) Dec. 30, 3:15, ESPN
Here's The Deal … So just how much will the Mack Brown farewell performance factor in to the X and O aspect of what should be an interesting matchup?
On the surface, taking out the Brown Is Out side of things, the biggest question mark is whether or not the emotion can overcome a shaky Texas run defense that has to deal with one of the most devastating ground attacks in college football. But, of course, it's all about the sentimentality, and it's all about who's going to care more.
Talent isn't a question mark on either side. Both teams are full of NFL players and both sides have key parts who'll use this game as a springboard to draft positioning, but Texas has to end its disappointing year by showing that, yeah, the team really was pretty good. For all the problems and all the drama and all the issues, if Brown comes out with a win for yet another season of nine wins or more during his tenure, this might not have been a national championship season, but it would be a fitting end to a phenomenal career.
Can this be like the 2010 Gator Bowl, when an outmatched Florida State team rose up and thumped West Virginia in Bobby Bowden's final game? Can this be Michigan breaking a rough run of bowl losses by sending out Lloyd Carr a winner with a Capital One Bowl win in 2008 over the Florida Tebows? To do it, Texas will have to actually play like it was supposed to from the very start.
Can the defense that got embarrassed by BYU and Ole Miss at record-setting levels find a way to stop a team that probably should've been in the Sugar Bowl – instead of Oklahoma - playing Alabama?
The Longhorns improved defensively as the year went on, highlighted by a cathartic 36-20 blowout of the Sooners as part of a six-game winning streak, but just when it seemed like this might be a team that could find its way into a Big 12 championship, it got obliterated by Oklahoma State, and then, with a second chance and the Fiesta Bowl puck right there on the stick, it lost to Baylor 30-10.
Maybe, just maybe, Texas just isn't very good, the talent is overrated, and this really is just an above-average team playing at the level it's supposed to. If that's the case, and if the Brown retirement factor doesn't play a role, the Longhorns might be in for a bad, bad day.
Oregon has plenty to play for, too. After a rocky final month of the season with losses to Stanford and Arizona and a close call against Oregon State, the team that appeared destined to play for the national title – or at least the Rose Bowl – as November began became slightly exposed. The defense started to struggle a bit, the offense wasn't quite as crisp, and for the first time in what had been a nice and promising transition, first-year head coach Mark Helfrich was dealing with very loud and very pointed criticism. His team is supposed to win the Alamo in a walk, or a run, and if it doesn't, it's going to be a really, really big deal over the course of the offseason.
Texas is used to San Antonio after beating Oregon State 31-27 last year, and the Big 12 has owned the game winning the last five and seven of the last eight, with several blowouts along the way.
As good as Brown's career has been, one of the underappreciated aspects has been his ability to win bowl games. Texas has won seven of its last eight and nine of the last ten, with the two losses a shocker to Washington State in the 2003 Holiday and to Alabama in the 2010 BCS championship.
Oregon won two straight BCS games – the 2012 Rose over Wisconsin and the 2013 Fiesta over Kansas State – under Chip Kelly, and this is the first time since winning the 2008 Holiday over Oklahoma State that the team isn't in one of the big money spotlight games. The Ducks beat the Longhorns 35-30 in a bit of a shocker in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl, and this is just the sixth time the two have faced each other. The first was a 71-7 Texas win to close out Oregon's 1941 season on December 6th.
Players to Watch: Is this really just another good game in Marcus Mariota's career, or is he going to change his mind and go off to the NFL a year early? While it's a draft class full of quarterbacks who might go in the first round, Mariota has the skills, size and speed to potentially be the No. 1 overall pick. If he comes up with a special performance in a blowout over the Longhorns, the pull might be too much to not take off. However, if he's back, he joins Jameis Winston as the far-and-away leaders in the preseason Heisman chase, and he should've been included in the glut of finalists this year after completing 63% of his passes for 3,412 yards and 30 touchdowns with four picks and rushing for 582 yards and nine scores. All four of the interceptions came in the final two games, and he struggled a bit over the final month, but the time off should do wonders after fighting through a slew of bumps and bruises.
Also potentially looking at leaving for the next level a year early is Texas RB Malcolm Brown, the one-time super-recruit who failed to break out early in his career, but took advantage of the extra carries over the second half of the season to close strong with four 100-yard games in the final seven with a four-score day against Kansas and 259 yards in the final two games against Texas Tech and Baylor. He's not projected to be a high pick, but there's a place for him at the next level as a complementary back and a mid-round pick. Will he be the centerpiece of the attack under a new Texas head coach? He will be against the Ducks.
The Longhorn defense might have had its problems, but senior DE Jackson Jeffcoat did what he could earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors with 12 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and 76 tackles. Finally healthy after missing most of last year with a torn pectoral muscle, he finally reached his full potential as the program's next great pass rusher after coming to Texas as the top of top recruits. With the athleticism and the size, he'll be a next-level starter with limitless upside. This will be his final showcase to the scouts, but they already know what he can do.
As the NFL scouting adage goes, you can't really hurt yourself in the bowls, but you can certainly help your stock. Oregon RB De'Anthony Thomas could help himself in a big, big way if he chooses to come out early. A flash of lightning, the 5-9, 169-pounder hasn't been able to stay in one piece and he failed to show off his gamebreaking skills for most of the season after going ballistic on Nicholls State and Virginia to kick things off. A superstar as a freshman in the Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin – with 155 yards and two scores on two carries, he has been good over the years, but there's always the sense that he should and could be doing more. This is his chance.
Texas will win if … the run defense actually works. This isn't that hard – stop the Duck running game and win. The lowest rushing output of the year came against Stanford, and the third-lowest came against Arizona – both losses. Those were also the only two times all season when the offense didn't score a rushing touchdown.
The Oregon offense doesn't work like it's supposed to against athletic, sound-tackling defenses that don't make big mistakes and are disciplined enough to be in the right position no matter what. That's not the Texas D. BYU QB Taysom Hill ran wild, and quick, tough backs who can get by the first man can run for big yards against Longhorn defenders who don't do enough to wrap up. The Texas defensive back seven has to run through the ball-carrier and not try to go for the knockout blow, and it has gang tackle as much as possible – forget about tackling Thomas or Mariota one-on-one in the open field.
Oregon will win if … it's Oregon and it becomes Oregon right away. The Ducks are about intimidation as much as anything else offensively, and when they have a defense on its heels, and when the opposing offense has to start pressing, that's when the avalanche comes. After struggling so much late in the year, and with the Texas offense not quite explosive enough to keep up the pace in a shootout, getting up early and running the offense to form it vital. If Oregon can rip up and down the field and take a 14-0 lead, go ahead and do something else with the rest of your evening. This is a dangerously efficient Oregon attack, but the goal has to be to start running and keep running. Texas was 1-4 this year when allowing 183 rushing yards or more – the lone exception the Iowa State game that Texas should've lost – and 7-0 when allowing fewer.
What Will Happen: Yeah, Mack Brown is "retiring," but Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti is retiring, too. He'll have his defense ramped up, but this might be one of those bowls that defies all logic and reason. Can the Longhorns play at the level it got to in the Oklahoma win? Maybe, but Oregon is sharper, faster, and it has something to prove. The sentimentality will only mean so much, and then the Duck speed will take over. However, Texas will be game.
Prediction: Oregon 38 … Texas 27
Line: Oregon -13.5 … o/u: 68
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2013 Valero Alamo - Oregon 30, Texas 7
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