San Antonio, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of top-flight programs go toe-to-
toe in Monday's 21st annual Valero Alamo Bowl, as the 10th-ranked Oregon Ducks
face the Texas Longhorns at the Alamodome.
Even with the departure of Chip Kelly last offseason, Oregon came into the
2013 campaign with sky-high expectations and appeared to be one of the
favorites to reach the BCS National Championship Game after an 8-0 start. The
Ducks stumbled in November, however, with a pair of losses at Stanford (26-20)
and Arizona (42-16) to finish at 10-2.
"We had a tough four-game stretch here at the end of the season, stubbed our
toe a little bit," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "But we'll be hungry to
get back out there."
"(This season) was tough and it was unfortunate," quarterback Marcus Mariota
added. "But we kind of put ourselves in this position."
Even with the disappointing finish, Oregon still reached the 10-win mark for
the sixth straight season, and has received a bowl bid in 21 of the last 25
After a slow 1-2 start, Texas played itself back into the picture in the Big
12 Conference with a six-game win streak, and even with a Nov. 16 loss to
Oklahoma State (38-13), it was still in position to win the league outright on
the final day of the season, but lost at Baylor, 30-10. Following the regular
season, Mack Brown announced his resignation after 16 years at the helm,
although he will finish out his tenure by coaching this matchup.
"It's sad to see him go," Texas running back Malcolm Brown said. "At the same
time, he's told us that it was his decision and that we just need to focus on
beating Oregon. That's the main priority right now. Like I said, that was his
decision, and it'll work itself out."
"(Brown's departure) can't change the way we prepare," quarterback Case McCoy
said. "We've got to go prepare like we have most of the year ... It's a big
bowl game for us."
Texas leads the all-time series with Oregon, 4-1. The only meeting in the past
42 years came in the 2000 Holiday Bowl, where the Ducks defeated the
Although the Ducks' offensive attack came up small in their two losses this
season, for the most part the unit has been nothing short of outstanding,
ranking second in the nation in yards per game (573.0), and third in points
per game (46.8).
Mariota orchestrated the offense under center and was one of the nation's
best, completing 63.1 percent of his passes for 3,412 yards with 30 touchdowns
and only four interceptions, adding 582 rushing yards and nine more scores on
the ground to boot. Mariota, once a projected first-round pick in the 2014 NFL
Draft, has decided to return for his junior season, which is sure to make the
Ducks a top contender once again.
Oregon's rushing attack has been potent (278.3 ypg), but it might be without
Byron Marshall (995 yards, 14 TDs), who is listed as questionable for this
bout with an ankle injury. Luckily the team has plenty of horses in the
stable, as Thomas Tyner (689 yards, nine TDs) and De'Anthony Thomas (581
yards, eight TDs) have both been impressive as well, each averaging at least
6.2 yards per carry.
Mariota has a couple of big-play receivers to rely on in Josh Huff (57
receptions, 1,036 yards, 11 TDs) and Bralon Addison (56 receptions, 842 yards,
Atypical of such a high-scoring team, Oregon played great defense this season,
allowing just 21.6 points per game while generating 27 turnovers.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (78 tackles, three INTs) earned First Team All-Pac-12 honors,
and proved to be one of the nation's best shut-down corners. Derrick Malone
leads the unit with 102 tackles, while Tony Washington anchors the defensive
line with 12.0 TFL, 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.
As for the Texas offense, despite coming up small in the season finale against
Baylor (217 yards, 10 points), it still enjoyed a stellar campaign in
averaging 31.2 points per game.
With David Ash lost for the season back in mid-October, McCoy took over as the
full-time starting quarterback to middling success, completing less than 58
percent of his passes for 1,885 yards, 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
The Longhorns were also bit by the injury bug in the backfield when Johnathan
Gray (780 yards, four TDs) went down for the year with a calf injury. Malcolm
Brown has taken over as the bell cow in his absence, turning 188 carries into
774 yards and nine touchdowns. Joe Bergeron (341 yards, four TDs) is also
mixed in, but he's listed as questionable with a foot injury.
Jaxon Shipley (55 receptions, 581 yards) is the team's top receiving target,
but he has scored just one touchdown. Meanwhile, Mike Davis has caught 49
balls for 715 yards and eight scores.
Facing the high-flying offenses in the Big 12, the Longhorns defense held its
own in allowing 25.5 points and 402.1 yards per game, while forcing 26
Jackson Jeffcoat was a unanimous First Team All-American at defensive end, as
he racked up 80 tackles, 21 TFL, 12.0 sacks, three fumble recoveries, a forced
fumble, an interception and a blocked kick. Cedric Reed (18 TFL, 9.0 sacks,
four FF) was also dominant up front, while Duke Thomas led the squad with
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