December 30th, 2013 11:46 am | by JOHN LOCANTHI |

Valero Alamo Bowl: #10 Oregon vs. Texas

Longtime coaches for Ducks, Longhorns to make final stand at the Alamo before retiring

Oregon (10-2) vs Texas (8-4) looked like a potential BCS matchup before the season started. Instead, the two teams meet in San Antonio for one final game before an offseason of significant change. After spending most of the season ranked in the top 2, the Ducks limp into the game after losing two of their final four games. Texas was mauled by Baylor in the de facto Big XII championship game after starting the season with a wet fart, which included giving up 550 yards rushing to the Fightin’ Mormons of BYU in the second game of the season.

But, hey, at least there are storylines aplenty in the 2013 Valero Alamo Bowl. Texas’ longtime coach Mack Brown is stepping down following wild rumors of the Longhorns throwing money at Alabama coach Nick Saban. On the other sideline, Nick Aliotti, Oregon’s defensive coordinator-for-life, is retiring after an eternity on the Ducks’ staff. This could very well be Oregon star—and frequent provider of bulletin board material—De’Anthony Thomas’ final game with the Fightin’ Ducks. Texas is also the school rumored to be responsible for blowing the whistle on Oregon’s relationship with Will Lyles’ recruiting service in the Lone Star State. At least one prominent Texan on the Oregon roster has strong feelings about the Longhorns as well.

The main question is one of motivation. Will this be the same Oregon team that felt so bummed about potentially playing in the Rose Bowl again [Totes lame bowl game—Ed.] that it decided to be blown off the field in Tucson? Will this be the same listless Texas team that needed some Big XII home-cooking to defeat the woeful Iowa State Cyclones?

This is the fourth year of the Alamo Bowl’s deal with the Pac-12 and Big XII… and it hasn’t been pretty for the boys out west. Arizona was shelled by the Cowpokes in 2010. Washington’s controversial decision not to field a defense against Baylor in 2011 backfired on the Huskies. And last season, the Oregon State Biebers choked away the game in the final minutes to Texas. However, Oregon did win its lone bowl game against Longhorns, thanks to young Joey “Heisman” Harrington pulling a football hat trick: Throwing, running and catching a touchdown. Both Mack Brown and Nick Aliotti were involved in that game, too. So there’s that.

Keys to the game

“Win one for the Nicker” vs. “Win one for the Macker”
— With two longtime coaches retiring for both teams, the players could feel some extra motivation to send them out with a win. While usually the “now we’re going to try really hard to win” angle seems incredibly silly, this could be a game-changer in the Alamo Bowl given the Ducks’ proven ability to not show up in certain games this season.

Mariota’s knee
By all accounts, Super Mariota is the healthiest he’s been since potentially tearing his MCL before the loss to Stanford.

That run defense tho
The Ducks’ once statistically stout rushing defense didn’t play up to it down the stretch last season. Texas is right around the middle of the pack nationally, averaging about 200 yards on the ground. Keep in mind that Oregon gave up 231 yards rushing to Oregon State in the Civil War, improving the Beavlings’ rushing average to 94.4 yards per game—Good for 115th in the country.

Underachieving Ducks, meet the masters of underachieving
Despite the 8-4 record and impressive displays of ineptitude that bookended the season, Texas is a very talented team. As Oregon coach Mark Helfrich told the Register-Guard: “Their sheer talent, we can’t match up with that in terms of just man-for-man talent.”
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