VALERO ALAMO BOWL STORYLINES
1. After stumbling to the finish line of the regular season, No. 25 Texas and No. 14 Oregon State will head to San Antonio, Texas, for their third meeting. The Beavers dropped three of their last five in Pac-12 play but still finished six games better than their 3-9 mark last season. The Longhorns lost their last two games but still held on for third in the the Big-12. They missed out on a BCS bowl berth for the third consecutive season, however.
2. Another common thread connecting these teams is the uncertainty surrounding their starting quarterbacks. David Ash started the first 11 games for Texas before he was benched in the second-to-last game against TCU. Sean Mannion started the first four games for the Beavers, missed two with a knee injury and then was benched after a four-interception performance against Washington, resulting in Oregon State's first conference loss. After his replacement, Cody Vaz, injured his ankle Nov. 10 against Stanford, Mannion started the final three games.
3. Oregon State has one of the nation’s top pass rushers in Scott Crichton, who had nine sacks during the season, earning all-conference first-team honors. Texas will be without its best offensive lineman in left guard Trey Hopkins, who suffered a stress fracture in his lower right leg in the regular-season finale against Kansas State. Behind Crichton is a defense that snared 19 interceptions, sixth-most in the nation. Jordan Poyer led the way with seven picks.
TV: 6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Oregon State -2
ABOUT TEXAS (8-4, 5-4 Big-12): Two key players for the Longhorns will be their only All-Big 12 First-Team selections - senior safety Kenny Vaccaro and senior defensive lineman Alex Okafor. Vaccaro was second on the team in tackles and will lead a secondary that will responsible for corralling a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks. Okafor had eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Since losing linebacker Jordan Hicks to a season-ending hip injury in the third game, sophomore Steve Edmond had stepped up and led the team with 101 tackles.
ABOUT OREGON STATE (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12): Wheaton and Cooks might be the best wide-receiver duo in the nation and the main reason the Beavers own the 15th-ranked passing offense. Wheaton, a senior, has caught 88 passes for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns. Cooks, a sophomore, has grabbed 64 balls for 1,120 yards and five scores. He's averaging 17.5 yards per catch. Wheaton became the school’s career leader in receptions (224) this season. He has at least one catch in 35 straight games, which leads the Pac-12.
PREDICTION: Oregon State 27, Texas 23