Texas will make a short postseason trip this year to face No. 15 Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl.
The Longhorns (8-4) will need only to zip down Interstate 35 to San Antonio for the Dec. 29 game. It will be Texas’ first appearance in the bowl since 2006, when the Alamo Bowl enjoyed its second-best crowd and second-best television ratings in its 20-year history as the Longhorns beat Iowa 26-24.
“You’re never sure where you get to go, and we’re fortunate to get to go to a city that we love and appreciate but also that the parents of our players and the high school coaches can come and watch,” coach Mack Brown said.
Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro said he expected it to be “a home game.”
“I believe the place will be filled up. There are Texas fans all over the country, and since we are right here in Texas, I know the fans are going to be out and are going to be really excited,” said running back Malcolm Brown, who’s from San Antonio.
The bowl presents a little bit of home for some of the Oregon State contingent, too. Coach Mike Riley spent two years there coaching the San Antonio Riders of the World Football League.
“I personally love the city, have been back every year since I coached there back in the early ’90s,” Riley said. “So, it’s just personally a special, special treat for me and my family. All of our players will be truly excited about the chance to play.”
The two coaches also have a personal connection. They met when Riley was with the San Diego Chargers and went to pro days, and they’ve developed a friendship through Nike events and American Football Coaches Association committees.
Brown called Riley a “great friend of mine.”
Separate from that, the state of Texas has been an important talent pipeline for Riley, providing ex-Beavers standouts James and Jacquizz Rodgers and current leading rusher Storm Woods, who is from Pflugerville, just outside Austin.
“We’re excited to bring Storm back home, and we’ve got a couple other guys on our team from Texas. It’ll be really fun for them,” Riley said. “We’ve done some recruiting down there.
“We actually got started back about six years ago with the Rodgers brothers … They’ve really impacted not only our football but all of Oregon State. They kind of became rock stars in our world up here.”
The Beavers (9-3) will be playing in a bowl game for the first time in three years, but will do so without senior running back Jordan Jenkins. Riley said Jenkins broke his ankle in the season finale and won’t play.
Texas could also be without a running back. Brown said Joe Bergeron’s status is uncertain because of a shoulder injury.
“I think it’s just great to be in a bowl game and have that extra time with your team,” said Riley, who is 5-1 in bowl games. “I always look at the game as a great reward for the season that you’ve just been through, and really a good chance to get ready and play.”
“It’s a great, great bonus to be in a bowl game,” he added.
Riley said he’s not sure whether Sean Mannion or Cody Vaz will start. Both played as Oregon State set a school scoring record in a 77-3 rout of Nicholls State in its season finale Saturday.
“I don’t think we’ll decide for a while how we’re going to go,” Riley said.
Texas is coming off back-to-back losses, on Thanksgiving against TCU and Saturday at Fiesta Bowl-bound Kansas State. The Longhorns have won six of their last seven bowl games, including last season’s Holiday Bowl.
“I think it worked out perfect for us today and the guys will be excited about it,” Brown said. “Unlike Mike, who won yesterday big, our guys lost. So, they’ll be down a little bit for a while here, but they’ll pick themselves up. This will be a real upper for them to get ready for the challenge of Oregon State.”
Both previous meetings were played in Austin and won by the Longhorns, 35-0 in 1980 and 61-16 in 1987.