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Valero Alamo Bowl preview

Another College Bowl game, another drinking game and another preview by James Jack, @materialista27. Read more of his work on his dedicated College Bowl site.


Valero Alamo Bowl

Saturday December 29th, 17:45 CST (23:45 GMT)
Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
(23)Texas Longhorns vs. (13)Oregon State Beavers

The Alamo Bowl is played in the 65,000-seat Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. It matches the second choice team from the Pacific-12 Conference and the third choice team from the Big 12 Conference. This year, the PAC-12 representative is Oregon State, as Oregon have been selected to the BCS Fiesta Bowl as an at-large selection. Ironically they meet Kansas State from the Big-12, but more about that later. Traditionally, the Alamo Bowl has been played in December, however at the end of the 2009 season the game was played in January for the first time. The following season, the game moved back to December where it has remained since. In 2007, the Alamo Bowl announced a partnership with San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corporation, and thus the bowl's full name was changed to the Valero Alamo Bowl. In the 2011 Alamo Bowl the Baylor Bears and Washington Huskies combined to score 123 points, breaking the record for the most points scored in a Bowl game in college football history. The 2011 game was also the first Alamo Bowl to feature that season's Heisman Trophy winner, Baylor's Robert Griffin III.

Texas has gone 8-4, a success for most schools (like Auburn) but a third consecutive season without a BCS bowl appearance had some questioning head coach Mack Brown's job security, that's pretty typical short-sightedness and arrogance from fans who expect success, dismissing the ability of any opponents. I wonder if they're Jets fans. The brass have pledged their "full support" to Brown and unlike the Abramovich kiss of death, their support actually means something. The Longhorns are 9-4 in bowl games under Brown, but are 21-16 overall since losing the 2010 BCS championship game to Alabama. David Ash started Texas' first 11 games under center but was benched in favor of Case McCoy during the team's Thanksgiving loss to TCU. According to, "McCoy won't play on Saturday night, however, after he and injured linebacker Jordan Hicks were suspended for violating team rules. The players broke curfew and there are reports that police were investigating two unidentified Texas players involved in an alleged sexual assault at a San Antonio hotel. McCoy was already set for the bench on Saturday before his alleged misdemeanors and Mack Brown had decided to will go back to Ash."

Ash completed 67.7 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in those 11 games, including wins over Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas Tech. Brown said. "When he started poorly, he had more trouble than when he started right but he had some great games and we need to build on those." The danger comes from the Beavers' secondary, Oregon State intercepted 19 passes this year, tied for 6th in the country, and the Beavers' 30 forced turnovers are tied for 12th. The Beavers come to play, and they play for keeps. The Longhorns' have coughed the ball up 7 times in their last two games, including five interceptions. The Texas defense struggled through the first seven games, allowing 35.0 points per game and 472.1 yards (those numbers would see them 103rd and 110th nationally), but improved towards the business end of the season, trimming those numbers to 21.6 points and 328.4 yards (26th and 17th in the country) so their overall numbers of 29.4 points (72nd) and 412.3 yards (74th) are partially misleading. The Longhorns' secondary will be tasked with slowing down Markus Wheaton, who ranks averages 100.6 receiving yards per game. Wheaton caught 12 passes against Nicholls State (FCS), bringing his career total to 224 and surpassing James Rodgers' school record of 222, set last year.

Oregon State finished 9-3, a big improvement on their 3-9 last season. As a result, the Beavers are heading to their first bowl game since 2009, when they lost to BYU Las Vegas Bowl. Their three victories in 2011 were the fewest under coach Mike Riley since they won three in 1997. The Beavers' quarterback situation was in flux all season due to injuries. Sean Mannion led the team to a 4-0 start before the sophomore suffered a knee injury that required surgery, paving the way for junior Cody Vaz to take over before he succumbed to a high ankle sprain. Mannion regained the starting job, and struggled to get back into the groove, throwing four interceptions in a 48-24 loss to Oregon, but still started in the team's finale, a 77-3 blow-out of Nicholls State (a team so bad, they went 1-11 in the FCS). Mannion went 20 of 23 for 231 yards and two touchdowns, but Vaz, who completed 14 of 17 passes for 190 yards and three TDs, also saw extensive action. The duo helped the Beavers rank 15th nationally with 316.5 passing yards per game, and Riley named Vaz as his starter on Dec. 22 just prior to the team travelling to San Antonio. Their rushing game hasn't been too great, but Storm Woods (no relation to Tiger) picked up 811 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. However the quarterback situation resolves itself during the game, there are a pair of excellent wide receivers to call upon in the form of the aforementioned Wheaton and sophomore Brandin Cooks, who has pulled in catches good for 1120 yards this season, including 173 yards against BYU, a team that only gave up 179.2 passing yards a game in total. The Oregon State secondary is led by cornerbacks Jordan Poyer and Rashaad Reynolds who have 10 picks between them. Poyer is tied for second in the country with 7, only behind Phillip Thomas of Fresno State.

Keep David Ash calm, plugs the gaps in the defensive line and they have to start strong. The sophomore quarterback is going to feel a ton of pressure to perform given that this is basically an audition for next season’s starting position. So the situation is much like last season when he started in the Holiday Bowl against Cal. Ash also is facing a very good pass defense that has proved it can bring pressure from defensive end Scott Crichton.

Oregon State wants to pass before it runs. But given that the Texas defense is so porous against the run game giving up 199 rushing yards per game, the Beavers are likely to get Storm Woods (no relation to Tiger) involved early and often. Texas has simplified the defense to help out the linebackers but it needs to have a strong game from Peter Jinkens and Steve Edmond to have any chance of keeping the Beavers in check. Jinkens has proven to be a playmaker who has sideline-to-sideline speed. It seems like a pretty simple concept but Texas does have a tendency to start slowly in big games. In the Oklahoma game, they found themselves 36-2 down at halftime on their way to a 63-21 spanking. Oregon State won its first three games by less than a score and lost two of its games by a combined six points, so the Beavers are accustomed to playing in close games. Given that they have come back against teams such as Arizona and Arizona State, they are not likely to fold if Texas comes out with few quick scores. To counteract that, Texas must continue to pressure the Beavers on offense and extend its drives, they can't allow themselves to think this game is won.

Air it out, knock David Ash around and take the ball away. Coach Mike Riley picked Vaz to be his starting quarterback for a reason, because he felt Vaz could run the offense with more efficiency than Sean Mannion. And Oregon State’s offense is at its best when Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks are touching the ball, a lot. The running game has progressed to the point where there is just enough concern for defenses to sneak a safety down toward the line of scrimmage. Storm Woods (no relation to Tiger) has a point to prove after Texas passed him over during recruiting. That should allow one of the most dynamic wide receiver duos in the country to do what it does best. If Wheaton and Cooks are let loose one on one with Texas' corners, there’s a good chance Oregon State will end up on the winning side. The Longhorns corners may not be good enough to stop Wheaton and Cooks, even with safety help, neither of them are Ian Nicolson.

David Ash has been all over the field at times this season. The Beavers have to make him as uncomfortable as possible in the pocket. With nine sacks, Scott Crichton was one of the best in the PAC-12 at creating havoc in the backfield. A good day for Crichton probably means a bad day for Ash. Making life difficult for Ash will be the No. 1 priority on the list for Beavers defensive coordinator Mark Banker. Also on Banker's late Christmas list is turnovers. They are the difference in most games at this time of the season, and with 30 takeaways this year, the Beavers are one of the best in the country at getting the ball back for the offense. They have 19 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries. Texas isn’t nearly as prolific so possessions and taking advantage of those possessions will be vital.

There are on the field keys to the game, like getting the ball to Wheaton and Cooks, and there are others that determine what even happens on the field. Oregon State have to get off to a good start, and if not control the game and the clock, they have to stay within touching distance of Texas. Everyone saw what happened in the Holiday Bowl, when Baylor was ready to play, and UCLA clearly was not. It got ugly early, and it turned into a proper spanking, Texas style. The Beavers have been on the wrong end of quick starts this season most notably in Seattle against the Huskies. If they can do all of that, then it becomes about those in game keys, and the biggest one is going to be defensive pressure in the Texas backfield. The Longhorns have shown this season they can't win a defensive battle (they only beat 1-11 Kansas in a game with less than 40 total points) so they must stay in front of the Beavers and keep that foot on the gas pedal for 60 minutes.

Oregon State -3
Over 57.5 points

1 drink: Someone says Tiger Woods (no relation to Storm)
2 drinks: Someone suggest Colt McCoy would've done much better in a particular situation.
Finish it: Anyone refers to the game as a massacre (Too soon?)


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