AUSTIN, Texas >> Texas must defend a prolific up-tempo offense when the Longhorns face No. 10 Oregon in the Alamo Bowl in coach Mack Brown’s farewell.
They have experience after playing Baylor in their last game.
The Ducks (10-2) average 46.8 points and 573 yards, which both rank in the top three in the country. Texas (8-4) held the Bears, the nation’s highest-scoring team, to three first-half points Dec. 7 in what was essentially a Big 12 title game. But Baylor scored 17 in the third quarter and went on to win 30-10.
Oregon’s Marcus Mariota has been one of the nation’s most efficient quarterbacks, completing 63.1 percent of his passes and throwing for 30 touchdowns and four interceptions while running for 582 yards and nine more scores.
Baylor’s Bryce Petty is the only QB with fewer interceptions (2) among those with at least 30 touchdown passes. Facing a quarterback like Petty, who also has 11 touchdowns rushing, helped prepare Texas for Monday’s matchup with Mariota.
"It’s crazy that we’re about to play the same team, almost," said junior defensive end Cedric Reed. "Those are two quarterbacks that have been in the Heisman running this year. They’re smart quarterbacks. The offense runs through them."
Texas’ best chance at slowing Oregon may be running the ball to keep the offense on the sideline, as Arizona and Stanford did in the Ducks’ only two losses.
Tyler Gaffney ran for 157 of the Cardinal’s 274 yards on 45 carries in a 26-20 win that ended Oregon’s perfect season Nov. 7. Two weeks later, the Wildcats’ Ka’Deem Carey ran 48 times for 206 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-16 trouncing. Oregon had the ball for fewer than a combined 42 minutes in those two defeats.
"You can see that teams that have had success against and beat Oregon are teams that have taken pride in a power running game," senior guard Mason Walters said. "Playing Oregon, if you don’t get pumped up and find a reason to go fight and have it be something that brings out the competitor in you, you can get embarrassed."
For the third time this year, the Longhorns are double-digit underdogs. They pummeled Oklahoma 36-20, but fell to Baylor by 20 points.
"We’re going to be doubted," junior defensive back Quandre Diggs said. "Some people are going to look at that in a negative way, but I’m going to look at that in a positive way. Y’all keep us as the underdog and we got out and win, then y’all are all shocked in the media. That’s up to y’all."