Texas is making its fifteen bowl appearance in sixteen years under head coach Mack Brown, who decided to step down after the Alamo Bowl. “The standard is really high here,” said Brown, whose 158 victories at Texas rank behind only the late Darrell Royal’s 167. “We set a standard at this place. You’d better win all of them. I understand that. … The standard is really high here and I’m proud of being part of setting that standard. Texas players have been saying all month that they want to send their beloved coach out on a high note, which means securing a coveted win over No. 10 Oregon.
While motivation could not be higher for Texas, Oregon’s interest in this bowl game has to be questioned as the Ducks had their sites set on the National Championship game after winning their first eight games by more than two touchdowns. After being torched for 557 yards by Washington State on October 19, Oregon declined by -101 net yards per game for the remainder of the season, which was the fourth biggest decline among bowl teams. And, prior to their game against Arizona, Oregon players voiced their disinterest in playing in the Rose Bowl, essentially saying that it’s the National Championship game or bust. Now, the Ducks find themselves in an even worse situation – a meaningless bowl game (Alamo Bowl) in San Antonio, Texas versus an 8-4 Big 12 team.
The Longhorns’ defense is led by defensive player of the year Jackson Jeffcoat, who has 12 sacks and 21 tackles for loss this season. After Texas defensive coordinator Diaz was replaced by Greg Robinson, the Longhorns stop unit responded with 35 sacks in their final nine games (only 2 sacks in first three games under DC Diaz). Texas also possesses superior special teams behind Groza Finalist Anthony Fera, who was 20-of-22 on field goal attempts this season, including 6-of-8 from beyond 40 yards. While it’s true that Oregon is the much better team from the line of scrimmage (+2.6 yards per play better than average), bowl games are all about motivation, and the Longhorns are determined to “Win One for the Gipper.”
Finally, the technical analysis strongly favors Texas as Big 12 underdogs of 3.5 or more points are 5-1 ATS in bowl games versus Pac-12 opponents, whereas pre-New Year’s Day Pac-12 bowl squads are 1-11 ATS as favorites of more than five points versus a foe off a loss. Moreover, pre-New Year’s Day underdogs of seven or more points off a SU and ATS loss are 20-5-1 ATS versus an opponent that failed to beat the point spread by more than seven points in its last game. With Mack Brown standing at a perfect 6-0 ATS with two or more weeks to prepare over the last three seasons, take Texas plus the boat load of points!