The Alamo Bowl first kicked off in 1993, and pits the #1 PAC 12 team against the #2 Big 12 team (after BCS selections). This is Texas' second year in a row to make an Alamo Bowl appearance, and 3rd time overall. Oregon has never played in the Alamo Bowl before.
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After coming up just a game short in 2012, Oregon's first year Head Coach Mark Helfrich started 2013 with the Duck's eyes set on the National Title. It looked like no one was going to deny them either. They started the season 8-0, including a stomping of #14 UCLA 42-14.
The Ducks were flying high, that is until Stanford clipped their wings. For the second year in a row Oregon's Title hopes came crashing down in the forest of the Cardinal trees.
Oregon still had plenty to play for, but it was evident the team was finding it difficult to remain motivated after the devastating loss.
"...deep down I don't wanna be a prep game for the national championship game." stated WR Josh Huff when asked about the possibility of winning the PAC 12, and playing in the Rose Bowl.
De'Anthony Thomas also expressed his disinterest in the thought of a Rose Bowl appearance. "Not a big deal at all", he said. "I feel like we already won a Rose Bowl."
The lack of motivation was evident in a blowout loss to Arizona which eliminated Oregon from the Rose Bowl and PAC 12 championship game. A 10-2 season is a great year for most, but with their eyes set on the crystal football, it feels like a disaster to Oregon.
This is the first year since 2008 the Ducks have failed to reach a BCS game. If they weren't excited about one of the most iconic Bowls in history, I have to wonder how Coach Helfrich will get his team up for the Alamo Bowl.
Going into the Alamo Bowl Oregon has some personnel issues. The Ducks will be without TE Pharaoh Brown. Brown has been suspended from the Bowl game for his involvement in a snowball fight "assaulting" a University of Oregon professor. Brown was seen in a video dumping a bucket of snow on the professors windshield as he tried to drive away.
Oregon's secondary also lost some depth due to Junior CB Troy Hill being indefinitely suspended from the team following charges of menacing and criminal mischief.
Texas started the year expecting to contend for the Big 12 Title, but after a 1-2 start the Longhorn fan base was in full crisis mode. The "Fire Mack Brown" chants grew to a decibel level somewhere around that of SXSW, and everyone wondered just how many weeks the Coach had left at Texas.
Brown responded with "We can get all this righted by winning the Big 12"
It appeared Mack was in deep denial, but then the unexpected happened. Texas smashed OU in the midst of a six game win streak. Maybe Mack wasn't crazy after all. Texas did stumble against Oklahoma State, but with a little help from OU, the Longhorns found themselves playing Baylor for the conference crown.
In the end, turning around the season and playing for the Big 12 title wasn't enough to save Mack Brown from resignation. Mack will forever be remembered as the Coach that brought Texas back to national prominence. You can bet every player, every assistant, anyone associated with the Texas program will do absolutely everything they can to send Brown out with a win.
If the Longhorns are to knock off Oregon, they're going to have to do it without some key players. It is being reported that RB/WR Daje Johnson, and OT Kennedy Estelle will miss the Alamo Bowl due to academic issues. That is tough news for a team that's had their attrition tested all season.
I have a feeling this game is going to come down to more than just numbers, but let's look at them anyway.
If you're surprised that Oregon is outpacing Texas on offense, you haven't watched much college football lately. Oregon's offense has transcended any one coach or player. It's a machine. Chip Kelly bolted for the NFL, but the Duck's offense remains elite. They're 2nd in yards per game, and 3rd in scoring.
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Oregon doesn't rely on any one facet of the game to get their production. They take what you give them. It's a lethal dose of pick your poison. They average 294.6 yards through the air, and 279.3 yards on the ground per game.
Statistically, Texas doesn't stand a chance slowing down Oregon. The Longhorn defense is the definition of average. They're 64th in the country in yards allowed, and 55th in points allowed.
The Longhorns do have one statistical advantage, and it's a big one. Texas ranks 37th in the country on the ground and averages almost 200 yards per game. If Oregon has one weakness it's their rush defense. The ducks rank just 65th against the run.
TEXAS KEYS TO THE GAME
- Control the line of scrimmage. Stanford beat Oregon up in the trenches, and Texas should have the superior lines. The Longhorn defensive line is anchored by two All-Big 12 Defensive Ends, Cedric Reed and Co-Defensive Player of the Year Jackson Jeffcoat. The offensive line is highlighted by All-Big 12 2nd teamers LT Donald Hawkins and LG Trey Hopkins.
- Texas is going to have to shore up their 82nd ranked rush defense in a hurry. If they can force the Ducks into 3rd-down and long situations, it will give them a puncher's chance.
- Establish the run. If the O-line can impose their will, they just might break Oregon's. They also need to keep the Duck's prolific offense on the sidelines.
OREGON KEYS TO THE GAME
- There is really just one key. Get off the bus. If Oregon doesn't want to be there then all the stats and advantages go out the window.
Oregon is a 13.5 to 14 point favorite. If the odds hold true, the Big 12 could be 1-2 in bowl games by the time the night is over. That's not good. The conference reputation could really use a win from it's most notable member.
CHRIS ROSS: Texas
HATCO COWBOY: Oregon
CORY TREECE: Oregon
GRAHAM COFFELT: Oregon
EVAN JONES: Oregon
CADE WEBB: Oregon
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