Oregon, Texas out to make best of Alamo Bowl
Mack Brown didn’t want to go out like this, and No. 10 Oregon
didn’t want its season to end here.
That makes the Alamo Bowl on Monday night a finale for two
programs making the best of disappointment: Texas (8-4) wanting a
fond farewell for Brown after the tension surrounding his
resignation, and the Ducks (10-2) denied a BCS bowl for the first
time in five years.
”The expectation for both of these programs is to be playing in
the last game at the end of the year, and neither one of us are
doing that,” Brown said Sunday.
Speaking publicly for just the second time since announcing this
month that he would leave Texas after 16 seasons, Brown sidestep
questions about the circumstances surrounding his exit and whether
he will coach again. He said the only thing he would’ve done
differently this season was win all the games and enjoy the ”happy
moms and dads and happy media and happy fans” that come with
”We’ve done that, and it’s a lot more fun,” Brown said.
The Ducks’ chances of playing for a national title after four
consecutive BCS bowl appearances were dashed in November after
losing to Stanford. Two weeks later, Oregon was pummeled by
First-year Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said the disappointment of
the Stanford loss created some ”stragglers.” He said he could’ve
done a better job to manage that.
”There was absolutely some disappointment, kind of
punched-in-the-gut type of feeling for a few guys that just needed
to grow up and realize that there was a lot of ball left to be
played,” Helfrich said. ”And as it played out, we could have
played ourselves into a better situation – quote, unquote – but we
didn’t earn that.”
Five things to know about the Alamo Bowl:
1) IT’S MARIOTA’S WARM-UP FOR 2014: Oregon QB Marcus Mariota’s
announcement this month that he’ll return for his junior season all
but assures he’ll shatter every school passing record before he
finally does leave. He’s got a chance to start the 2014 Heisman
Trophy buzz now if he can put up another showcase game against
Texas to cap a season in which he put up nearly 4,000 yards of
2) CASE (AND THE McCOY ERA) CLOSED: Colt McCoy left Texas in
2009 with a then-NCAA record for quarterback victories (45) and a
BCS title game appearance. Case’s prospects of even playing his
final year were uncertain after being named the backup. But with
starter David Ash injured most of the season, Case has the chance
to end the McCoy era at Texas with 55 starting quarterback
victories in the family.
3) A FINAL DUCK CALL FOR ALIOTTI: Like Mack Brown, longtime
Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti is also stepping down
after the Alamo Bowl. He’s leaving after 38 years in coaching and
revealed this week he wanted to retire last season but didn’t to
ease the transition after Chip Kelly left for the NFL.
4) RUN AWAY: Underdog Texas will likely need a big game from RB
Malcom Brown and its depleted backfield, especially after WR Daje
Johnson was ruled academically ineligible and left the Longhorns
without another playmaker. Oregon’s run defense took some flak
after giving up 578 yards on the ground in its two losses to
Arizona and Stanford, but Aliotti says those numbers are
”They ran the ball 66 times,” Aliotti said about Stanford.
”They didn’t have to throw it. Tough to answer it this way, but we
didn’t play very well on offense.”
5) MUST-SEE TV? The Alamo Bowl has been a reliable bet for
thrilling finishes. Seven of the last eight games were decided by a
touchdown or less, including Texas’ victory last season and Robert
Griffin III leading Baylor in 2011 to a 67-56 win that remains the
highest-scoring bowl game ever in regulation. But that run of drama
will be tested with Oregon entering as heavy favorites.