VALERO ALAMO BOWL STORYLINES
1. Texas coach Mack Brown's swan song with the Longhorns comes against the 12th-ranked Oregon Ducks in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30 in San Antonio. Texas announced Dec. 14 that Brown will step down after 16 seasons, during which he has compiled a 158-47 record - making him the second-winningest coach in the program's rich history behind Darrell Royal (167). Brown led the Longhorns to two Big 12 titles and the 2005 national championship, but Texas struggled to a 30-20 record over the past four seasons, including 19-17 in the Big 12.
2. Oregon went from national championship contender to having its streak of four straight BCS bowls snapped thanks to November losses at Stanford (26-20) and Arizona (42-16), but the Ducks say they won't lack motivation despite the lower-tier postseason invitation. "We had a tough four-game stretch here at the end of the season, stubbed our toe a little bit," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich told the Ducks' website. "But we'll be hungry to get back out there."
3. The Ducks' up-tempo spread offense is similar to the system employed by Baylor, which rolled up 508 total yards in a 30-10 win over the Longhorns in the regular-season finale. Texas will need defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat - the Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year - to be a constant fixture in the backfield to disrupt Oregon's timing and give the Longhorns a chance to keep pace on the scoreboard.
TV: 6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Oregon -14
ABOUT OREGON (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12): Even with former coach Chip Kelly gone to the NFL, the Ducks continue to put up prolific offensive numbers, ranking second in the nation in total yards (573.1) and third in scoring (46.8). Quarterback Marcus Mariota's Heisman Trophy candidacy fizzled when the threw four interceptions and fumbled five times in the last four games of the regular season, but expects to be fully recovered from a lingering knee injury for the bowl game. The Ducks will be without tight end Pharaoh Brown (10 catches, 123 yards, two touchdowns), who was suspended for his role in a snowball fight on campus that escalated and resulted in innocent bystanders being pelted with snowballs, but he is a minor player in the passing game as eight Ducks have more receptions with Josh Huff (57 catches, 1,036 yards, 11 TDs) leading the way.
ABOUT TEXAS (8-4, 7-2 Big 12): The Longhorns were written off early after losses to BYU (40-21) and Mississippi (44-23) but rebounded in conference play and found themselves in a de facto Big 12 title game against Baylor in the season finale. The offense is built around the running game with Malcolm Brown (774 yards, nine touchdowns) leading the way since Johnathan Gray's season-ending injury, but Texas struggles when playing from behind because of quarterback Case McCoy's inconsistency. The defense has scuffled against strong rushing teams - allowing 200 or more yards four times, including a whopping 550 yards against Brigham Young - so it might have its hands full against Oregon's read option.
PREDICTION: Oregon 41, Texas 27