No. 10 Oregon and unranked Texas will meet in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30 in San Antonio, Texas. The Longhorns are the defending Alamo Bowl champions after defeating Oregon State 31-27 in last year’s game. Both Oregon and Texas were highly ranked in the preseason (Oregon 3, Texas 15) but failed to make BCS appearances after losing a combined six games this season. The meeting will be the first between the two teams since the 2000 Holiday Bowl.
Here’s how the two teams stack up:
The Ducks’ scoring cooled down in the last two games of the regular season but they still averaged 46.8 points per game on the year, good for third best in the country. Running back Byron Marshall missed most of the team’s final two games with a foot injury but may return for the Alamo Bowl. If not, the two-headed attack of De’Anthony Thomas and Thomas Tyner will carry the load in the running game. Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw four interceptions to end the season but still finished with the nation’s sixth-best QB rating (167.96). Receivers Josh Huff and Bralon Addison combined for 1,878 yards and 18 touchdowns on 113 catches to lead the Ducks.
The Longhorns were largely unimpressive offensively this season, ranking in the bottom half of the Big 12 in passing and scoring offense. Starting running back Johnathan Gray was lost for the year when he injured his Achilles against West Virginia, so junior Malcolm Brown will get the majority of the touches. Senior quarterback Case McCoy ranked in the middle of the conference in passing and ended up even in touchdowns and interceptions with 11 of each. Senior wideout Mike Davis led the receiving corps with 715 yards and eight scores.
The Ducks’ run defense was exposed by opponents late in the season but they still held ball carriers to 3.8 yards per carry. Oregon had a turnover margin of +9, recovering 12 fumbles and forcing 15 interceptions, lead by Terrance Mitchell with five. Oregon struggled defensively on third downs, though. It allowed opponents to convert 40.85 percent of third downs, 11th in the Pac-12. Juniors Derrick Malone and Tony Washington led the team in tackles (102) and sacks (7.5), respectively.
The Longhorns’ rush defense was mediocre this season, allowing opposing rushers 4.29 yards per carry and 21 touchdowns. They were much better defending the pass, holding quarterbacks to a low completion percentage (56) and only 12 passing touchdowns. They led the Big 12 in sacks with 37, 12 of which were courtesy of Jackson Jeffcoat, tied for third in the nation. Jeffcoat also recorded 18 tackles for loss and was joined up front by fellow lineman Cedric Reed, who added 12 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.
Addison and Thomas give Oregon a scary return team, one that combines to average nearly 20 yards per return with three scores. A Rodney Hardrick return of a blocked kick gives the Ducks four special teams touchdowns this season. Alejandro Maldonado and Matt Wogan have both faltered at place kicker, but Wogan was named the starter late in the season and has connected on four of five attempts. Maldonado has been Oregon’s punter and averages 40 yards per punt in 38 attempts.
Texas has two capable punt returners in Daje Johnson and Jaxon Shipley, who average 10.75 and 13.5 yards per return, respectively. Johnson was also the team’s primary kick returner and took a punt to the house for the Longhorns’ only special teams touchdown. Senior Anthony Fera handled place kicking and punting duties for Texas and was reliable, hitting 20 of 22 field goal tries and averaging 40.57 yards per punt.
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