The 2013 Valero Alamo Bowl between the No. 10 Oregon Ducks and Texas Longhorns is littered with intriguing storylines—both on the field and off thanks to notable names both staying and going after the showdown from the Alamodome.
The 8-4 Longhorns lost two of three in ugly fashion to close the year and miss out on a Big 12 title. For additional salt in the wound, the Longhorns are serious underdogs here in what will be coach Mack Brown and quarterback Case McCoy's final game with the school.
Things are much more positive for the 10-2 Ducks, as the team will see quarterback Marcus Mariota return next season. While great news, it is but a Band-Aid to disguise the fact Oregon went .500 in its final four to close the season and miss out on the Pac-12 title.
So will it be Texas closing one era on a positive note and beginning another with a bang, or will Oregon prematurely start what is sure to be another national-championship hunt next season?
When: Monday, Dec. 30 at 6:45 p.m. ET
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Lines (via Vegas Insider)
- Over/Under: 67
- Spread: Oregon (-14)
Ducks Injury Report (via USA Today)
Longhorns Injury Report (via USA Today)
Can Texas Overcome Distractions as Two Mainstays Partake in Final Game?
By now, collegiate fans know Mack Brown is on his way out after 16 years in Austin highlighted by 158 victories and a national championship after an undefeated season in 2005.
Brown told the media, via ABC News, that the Alamo Bowl would be his last game with the school in the hopes the program can turn things around:
It's been a wonderful ride. Now, the program is again being pulled in different directions, and I think the time is right for a change. I love the University of Texas, all of its supporters, the great fans and everyone that played and coached here ... It is the best coaching job and the premier football program in America.
I sincerely want to get back to the top and that's why I'm stepping down after the bowl game. I hope with some new energy, we can get this thing rolling again.
Brown is far from the only loss with McCoy on his way out, too. The senior threw for 1,885 yards with 11 touchdowns and interceptions. He will now be asked to duel Oregon's Mariota, who at one point was a top Heisman contender and leads the nation's No. 3 overall offense that averages 46.8 points per game.
The Longhorns have a tall task indeed, especially thanks to a wealth of distractions, a disappointing year and an unusually long layoff between games.
The narrative that Texas will come out emotionally charged to fight for its departing coach is nullified with the news that the Ducks will be losing defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti as well, per CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman:
As Andrew Greif of The Oregonian illustrates, both teams are on equal footing as a result:
Aliotti, who has spent 21 seasons with the Ducks in three different stints, has his defense playing at a high level. That is arguably the main reason Texas does not stand a chance Monday. The unit ranks No. 25 with an average of 21.6 points surrendered per game.
ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit puts it best:
Mariota (3,412 yards and 30 touchdowns) and the Ducks offense will have no problem scoring on a Longhorns defense that ranks outside of the top 50. McCoy and the Longhorns have scored more than 40 points just three times in 2013.
A fourth journey over the threshold is simply not in the cards.
Final Score: Ducks 48, Longhorns 28
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The Washington Huskies (9-4) came into tonight's game with interim head coach Marques Tuiasosopo and were able to beat the BYU Cougars (8-5) impressively by a score of 31-16.
Washington only accrued 319 yards of total offense in this game. However, the Husky defense stepped up and shut out BYU in the second half. Bishop Sankey led Washington with two rushing touchdowns on the evening.
Taysom Hill played exceptionally well in the loss. He threw for 293 yards and rushed for 133 more. He just didn't get a ton of help on the evening, outside of wide receiver Cody Hoffman.
Here are 10 things we learned in this contest.
Washington's 31-16 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl defeat of Brigham Young was a combination of fond farewells and strides into the program's future—particularly so at quarterback, with the symbolic torch-passing from outgoing senior Keith Price to redshirt freshman Cyler Miles.
The transition began before Friday's bowl win, as Price's battles with injuries in the regular season thrust Miles into the starting lineup. Circumstances against BYU were similar: Price suffered a rib injury in the third quarter that required an X-ray, per sideline reports.
For a career as illustrious—and frankly, as important to re-establishing Washington football—as Price's, the ending was anti-climatic. He provided a few vintage Price moments against BYU, connecting with one of his favorite targets, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, on a touchdown pass. That came just a few snaps after he broke off a 20-yard rush to move the Huskies into Cougars territory.
Price had his hard-earned and well-deserved moment in the spotlight, helping the Huskies to their first postseason win since 2010 and the first of his career. But in the fourth quarter, the gap between two eras of Washington football was bridged.
Miles came on with the Huskies enjoying a 12-point cushion, but the outcome was hardly decided. The Huskies went three-and-out on his first possession, but his second salted away the victory.
Two plays in particular send Miles and Washington into the 2014 offseason with visions of what next season can be. First, he converted a third-down opportunity on a quick read to wide receiver Kevin Smith. Two snaps later from midfield, he broke past the line and accelerated beyond the second level, rolling off 32 yards on a rush that set up an eventual Travis Coons field goal.
The carry prompted plenty of favorable comparisons on social media, including this of a former national champion from Associated Press reporter Ralph Russo:
Asking Miles to take Washington to the heights Vince Young elevated Texas is expecting a lot. However, the redshirt freshman quarterback is taking over a much different Huskies football program than the one Price inherited three years ago.
It might be easy to overlook in a season that Washington scored its most victories since 2000 this is a program still just five years removed from going winless. When Price and the other departing, fifth-year seniors committed as recruits, they were committing to a vision.
Price was integral in turning Washington's vision into a reality. So was junior running back Bishop Sankey, who may or may not have played his final game with the Huskies.
If Friday was Sankey's final collegiate appearance, he ended his career in style, scoring a pair of touchdowns.
Because of their efforts, the underclassmen returning to kick off the Chris Petersen era do so with a solid foundation in place. John Ross is among those young Huskies. The freshman wide receiver drew comparisons to Oregon's do-everything junior De'Anthony Thomas before the season, and Friday he lived up to the billing with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Junior defensive end Hau'oli Kikaha will be a senior leader for Washington's new era, and he set a resounding tone in San Francisco by sacking BYU quarterback Taysom Hill three times. His efforts garnered Defensive Most Valuable Player of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
But more than anyone else, Miles will take up the mantle for the next phase in Washington Huskies football. And thanks to Price and Co., the team he'll lead is in position to accomplish something special.
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Washington closed out 2013 on a three-game winning streak after defeating BYU 31-16 in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Friday, Dec. 27.
The Huskies executed on offense when they had to and shutout the Cougars in the second half, zeroing in on dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill.
Led by quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey, Washington set the tone early on in the first quarter, driving the ball 71 yards on 12 plays for the game's opening touchdown (11-yard TD run by Sankey). The impressive scoring drive would be a sign of things to come.
BYU finally responded a few minutes into the second quarter as Hill punched it in from one yard out to cap off an 88-yard drive. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the celebration wouldn't last more than a few moments as Washington's John Ross returned the ensuing kickoff 104 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, per ESPN College Football on Twitter:
BYU would answer with a pair of field goals. However, another Sankey touchdown run late in the second quarter stretched the Huskies' lead to eight points.
Despite bogging down in the red zone on multiple occasions, the Cougars would carry momentum into the locker room at halftime after tacking on a third Justin Sorensen field goal at the second-quarter buzzer.
At the halftime break, SI.com's Martin Rickman pointed out the harsh irony for BYU:
The Huskies couldn't have dreamed of a better start to the second half. After receiving the opening kickoff of the third quarter, Washington drove 62 yards in 10 plays to take a commanding 28-16 lead. The drive was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Price to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Following the Huskies' score, The Seattle Times' Adam Jude introduced a unique stat:
Washington's offense would struggle from that point on before suffering a major blow early in the fourth quarter when Price was forced off the field with a rib injury, per ESPN Pac-12 on Twitter:
Cyler Miles would replace Price under center. The freshman's inexperience quickly became obvious, but an impressive 32-yard run by Miles late in the game put Washington in position to extend its lead to 15 points.
The Cougars would have their chances to get back in the game, but were unable to cash in, racking up just 128 total yards of offense in the second half thanks to some exceptional halftime adjustments and a dominant performance from the Huskies' defense.
Washington linebacker John Timu would put the finishing touches on the Huskies' stellar defensive effort with an interception in the waning moments. The junior defender was arguably Washington's best player on the night, turning in a 17-tackle performance, his best of the season.
Key Player Grades
Keith Price, QB, Washington: B
Washington senior signal-caller Keith Price wasn't perfect on Friday, but he didn't have to be as the Huskies' running game was successful and the defense delivered. Price will want his lone interception back, but he should be commended for his toughness.
In the end, he completed 16 of 21 passes for 112 yards and a key touchdown. Price also picked up 27 yards on seven carries.
Taysom Hill, QB, BYU: A
Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill racked up tons of yards through the air and on the ground in BYU's loss. Unfortunately, Hill was the entire offense for BYU, accounting for 431 of the team's 473 total yards.
He'll be wishing he found the end zone more than once on the trip back to Provo, Utah.
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington: A
Sankey wasn't overwhelming in limited action on Friday (4.6 yards per carry), but he did make some highlight-reel plays, including his second-quarter touchdown run from 11 yards out, per NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks:
The junior running back would finish with 96 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and 10 yards receiving on three receptions out of the backfield.
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All eyes will be on the Valero Alamo Bowl game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oregon Ducks, but not necessarily because of the great matchup on the field. The college football nation will be anxiously waiting to see if the Longhorns can send Mack Brown off into the sunset with a win in his final game coaching at Texas.
Brown holds a 10-4 bowl-game record and is 0-1 against Oregon in his 16-year career as the Longhorns' leader. But ending his career in Austin on a high note will not be an easy task against the stacked Oregon Ducks, who appeared to be a favorite to play for the BCS National Championship before losing to Stanford early in November.
Can the Longhorns upset the well-balanced Ducks? Let's take a look.
Who: Texas (8-4) vs. No. 10 Oregon (10-2)
What: Valero Alamo Bowl
When: Monday, Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. ET
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Radio: ESPN Radio
Spread: Oregon (-14), as of Friday, Dec. 27 (per VegasInsider.com)
Last meeting: Dec. 29, 2000, Holiday Bowl
Last outcome: No. 8 Oregon 35, No. 12 Texas 30
The Nebraska football coaches hit the ground running between Nov. 30 and Dec. 15. With the 2014 recruiting cycle coming down to the homestretch, head coach Bo Pelini and his staff had a lot of work to do.
By the end of the two-week continuous hop from place to place, Nebraska has secured 19 players in its 2014 class as of now.
Pelini felt the surge in recruiting went well, as he told Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star:
The reception we got on the recruiting trail was very good. I like the way it went. I thought we got a lot done. We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. And we're going to have to do the same when the middle of January hits and it (recruiting) opens back up again.
Pelini and his staff can’t make face-to-face contact with recruits until Jan. 15, but the Huskers expect to head back out for a second surge as soon as possible. The Husker staff has always favored the home visits prior to signing day, as it tends to make the biggest impact.
With the new rule preventing coaches from home visits during this dead period, Pelini is focused on winning the bowl game. Beating Georgia in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1 could secure plenty of recruits.
After all, as the Lincoln Journal Star’s Christopherson pointed out, only a dozen of Nebraska’s 26 recruits committed after the Huskers lost to Georgia in last year’s bowl game.
Needless to say, there is a lot riding on this year’s rematch with the Bulldogs and the success of Pelini and staff come Jan. 15.
Note: All 2013 stats via 247Sports unless otherwise noted.