In the span of a little more than 24 hours the Texas Longhorns have gone from being 30 minutes away from the Big 12 championship to being right back where they were 12 months ago.
Case McCoy will quarterback his final game for the Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl against Oregon.
A disappointing loss in the season finale – this time a 30-10 setback against Baylor – forced them to watch a team celebrate a conference title on their home field for the season straight season. And for the second consecutive fall the Longhorns limp away from the wreckage with an 8-4 record with the reward being a trip to the Valero Alamo Bowl.
“We've very excited about coming back to the Alamo Bowl," Mack Brown said Sunday night.
There are two big differences between last year and this year. Not only did Texas have a chance to secure a BCS bid in the final game of 2013, but not doing so lands Texas in a bowl game with an elite opponent.
The Longhorns (8-4, 7-2 in the Big 12) will face off against Oregon (10-2, 7-2 in the Pac-12) in San Antonio on Monday, Dec. 30 at 5:45 p.m. local time. The Longhorns' selection marks the third time Texas has appeared in the game under Mack Brown, including last year's win over Oregon State.
“We're so excited to be playing and facing a great challenge,” Mack said. “Mark [Helfrich] has done a tremendous job. We can't wait. It's a tremendous challenge to represent the Big 12.”
If this is indeed the last game for Mack as the head coach of the Longhorns then getting a ninth win this season will be a daunting task. The Ducks come into the game ranked No. 2 in the country in total offense averaging 573 yards per game.
“It's nice to get outside the box,” Mack said. “It's an exciting month to prepare. You're preparing for spring practice, you're preparing your team for the future, but you've got one last game for your seniors.”
The 46.8 points per game Oregon scores is the third-best tally in America. The Ducks' balanced attack is led by Marcus Mariota, the sophomore quarterback who spent time this season as the apparent Heisman Trophy frontrunner and recently announced he'll wait another year before heading to the NFL draft and return to Eugene for his junior season.
Marcus Mariota leads the Oregon offensive attack.
“We're ready to get after it,” Mack said. “These guys are like Baylor. They can score fast and they've been one of best teams in the country the last few years.”
Mariota ranks sixth nationally in pass efficiency (167.9 quarterback rating) and he's completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,412 yards and 30 touchdowns against four interceptions.
“Hopefully we bring a scoring offense,” Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said when asked what the folks in San Antonio can expect to see from the Ducks. “We want to run the ball. We've been a little more balanced this year.”
In addition to Mariota, the Ducks have some of the most explosive playmakers in the country on offense with the like of De'Anthony Thomas, Josh Huff and Bralon Addison.
Huff and Addison are two of the seven Texans on the Oregon roster.
“Our guys are excited to take on an iconic program and an iconic coach in Mack Brown,” Helfrich said. “We had a tough four-game stretch to end our season, we stubbed our toe a little bit but we'll be anxious to get back after it.”