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Alamo Bowl Preview

Can Texas pull off the upset in Mack's final game?

Tom Pennington

Television: 5:45, ESPN

The 2013 Alamo Bowl isn’t short on storylines.

For Oregon, they were picked by many to be playing in Pasadena, whether it was against an SEC team for the National Championship, or against a Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl. When they were still undefeated, Marcus Mariota was the only thing that stood in Jameis Winston’s path to the Heisman. But neither of those things happened and now they’re here.

Texas is here too. A lot of folks thought this was going to be Texas’ comeback year and a Fiesta Bowl appearance seemed likely. But when your defense looked as bad as it did early in the season, it’s hard to get anything going. Their quarterback situation didn’t help either. David Ash, who was never particularly great anyway, has been out with a head injury pretty much all season. Case McCoy, who’s been Texas’ lucky charm in the past, has done a fairly admirable job considering the talent he actually possesses, but he simply wasn’t the man Texas needed this year. The bottom line is that with the bad start, Texas was never able to find any solid momentum in 2013.

The last time the Ducks and Horns met was the 2000 Holiday Bowl in which Texas lost 30-35. Sadly we won’t get to see Joey Harrington and Chris Simms in this game…but there’s still plenty to be excited about.

Oregon Offense/Texas Defense

Like a batch of ricin cooked by Walter White himself, Marcus Mariota is the kind of the quarterback that’s absolute poison to Texas. You don’t even have to go back and watch the Manny Diaz-led squad against BYU and Ole Miss to understand that Texas can’t handle great spread teams and running quarterbacks.

Greg Robinson has done a fine job in his (likely) short return to Texas, but this team still has a weakness for quarterbacks who can tuck it and run (Oklahoma State is a great example). Even with Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas will likely have trouble with this Ducks team and will have to play near perfect football to stay in the game.

In addition to having to face off against the terrific Mariota, the Longhorn defense also faces the big challenge of containing De’Anthony Thomas. Other notables for the Ducks offense include speedy wideout Josh Huff and stonewall center, Hroniss Grasu.

Offense is not only Oregon’s specialty, but other than maybe Auburn, they do it better than anyone in the country. Texas has played great running backs and great quarterbacks this season, but other than Baylor, they haven’t played a team with both. If a Bo Wallace/I’Tavius Mathers combo can suck the wind out of Texas, just think what this Ducks team could do.

Advantage: Ducks.

Texas Offense/Oregon Defense

Oregon’s defense gets a little bit of a break with Johnathan Gray out with injury and hybrid Daje Johnson academically ineligible. Malcolm Brown is a terrific back, but he’s better when he has someone to balance him out and compliment his prowess.

Oregon’s most notable defender is All-American cornerback, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Olomu is picked by many to be a first round draft choice and the first cornerback taken overall. He’ll likely face off against Mike Davis, which could very well be the best match-up of the game. Scouts are drooling over it.

Advantage: Ducks.

Mack’s Coda

Mack fell short of surpassing Darrell Royal’s win total at Texas, but he still holds the best winning percentage and the most bowl wins. Despite the drama surrounding Mack’s exit in Austin, there’s no denying he’s one of the most important figures college football’s had in the last twenty years, if not all time. Love or hate Texas, Mack Brown won the right way and did it with class.

Since 2004, Texas has won 7 of its 8 bowl games and even given Oregon’s numerous advantages on paper, it’s hard to completely discount Texas’ chances tonight. Especially in Mack’s last game ever.

Prediction: Oregon 45, Texas 31