Texas, Oregon matchup could be among bowl season’s best

Peter Sblendorio

For both the Longhorns and the Ducks, this year’s trip to the Valero Alamo Bowl isn’t exactly what they envisioned at the start of the year. 

Each team entered the season with goals of a conference title and BCS bowl. But while neither team reached its preseason expectations, Monday’s matchup figures to be among this bowl season’s best.

Despite a pair of late season losses that derailed their national title hopes, the Ducks boast the nation’s third most potent offense in scoring 46.8 points per game. At the forefront of this offensive attack is sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota, who racked up 3,412 yards and 30 touchdowns against just four interceptions in the regular season.

Oregon also enjoyed considerable success running the ball, averaging 278.3 yards per game and 6.4 yards per carry as a team. Sophomore running back Byron Marshall led the way with 995 rushing yards and 14 scores, while three other Ducks rushed for at least 581 yards.

The Longhorns, on the other hand, may not possess the same offensive numbers as Oregon, but they still have plenty to play for. Monday marks Mack Brown’s final game after a 16-year tenure as Texas head coach, and the players are eager to send their longtime coach off with a win.

“I think it excites us more to make sure Mack goes out with a win,” junior center Dominic Espinosa said. “That's another incentive for us to practice hard.”

While they face the tough task of slowing Oregon’s offense, the Longhorns enter the Alamo coming off of a pair of impressive defensive performances. Texas limited Texas Tech’s nation leading passing attack to 100 yards below its season average on Nov. 28 and held Baylor to more than 23 points below its season average.

Monday’s matchup will be the first time these teams face each other since 2000, when Oregon defeated Texas 35-30 in the Holiday Bowl.