While it may not be a BCS bowl, the Ducks are heading to the postseason with a game in the Valero Alamo Bowl against the University of Texas and its legendary head coach Mack Brown.
It may be Brown’s final game of his illustrious 30-year head coaching career, 16th with the Longhorns, but this game won’t be played in honor of Brown. As for the Ducks, they will play with heavy hearts without starting tight end Pharaoh Brown, suspended by head coach Mark Helfrich for his role in a snowball fight on campus.
This game is going to be played for pride, simple as that.
With that in mind, these are the players to watch and things to know about Texas.
Things to Know:
The Longhorns were in the running for the Big-12 Championship until the last weekend of the regular season. Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State were all tied with 7-1 conference records and with Oklahoma State losing to Oklahoma in the season finale, the showdown was set for the Texas-Baylor game with the winner getting the automatic BCS bowl bid.
Baylor defeated the Longhorns 30-10, thus dropping Texas to the Alamo Bowl, the second-straight season they’ve been to San Antonio for a bowl game.
Texas, who is 8-4 on the season, began with a 56-7 stomping of New Mexico State, but the good times ended there. The Longhorns suffered back-to-back losses to BYU and Ole Miss by an average of 20 points, including giving up 550 yards rushing to BYU and had fans calling for Brown to be fired.
Somehow, amid the turmoil, Texas rallied around Brown and reeled off six-straight wins, one of which was defeating No. 12 Oklahoma 36-20 in the teams’ annual Red River Rivalry. The winning streak came to an end when the Longhorns were beat 38-13 by Oklahoma State but righted the ship with a 25-point victory over Texas Tech, thus setting up the showdown with Baylor for the conference championship.
Texas averages 31.2 points per game but gives up an average of 25.5, both ranking 56th in the country.
Players to Watch:
Offense: The offense is led by quarterback Case McCoy who is 179 for 312 and has thrown for 1,885 yards, 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The running game was led by Johnathan Gray who, through nine games, had ran for 78 yards and four touchdowns, but he went down with an on-contact Achilles injury and is out for the season. Malcolm Brown is now the team’s No. 1 running back, running for 774 yards on the season and nine touchdowns. Wide receivers Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis are the team’s top-two pass catchers with 55 and 49 receptions, respectively. Shipley is regarded as more of a possession receiver, totaling 581 yards on the season, a 10.6 yard per catch average and one touchdown while Davis is the big-play type, totaling 715 yards, 14.6 yards per catch and a team-leading eight touchdowns.
Defense: Jackson Jeffcoat is one of the best defensive ends in the country, ranking fourth in the country with 21 tackles for loss and third in sacks with 12. When Jeffcoat is double-teamed, Cedric Reed is the man causing havoc, racking up 18 tackles for loss and and nine sacks on the season. Duke Thomas leads the team with three interceptions while Quandre Diggs is tops on the team with 10 passes broken up.
Special Teams: Anthony Fera is one of the the top field goal kickers in the country, going 20 f0r 22 on the season with a long of 50.
Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka