No. 23 Texas Longhorns (8-4 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. No. 13 Oregon State Beavers (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS)
College Football Alamo Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Saturday December 29th, 2012. 6:45PM Eastern
Where: Alamodome San Antonio, T.X.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Tex +2/OSU -2
Over/Under Total: 57
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The 20th anniversary of the Valero Alamo Bowl will take place on December 29th when the no. 23 Texas Longhorns take the short trip down I-35 to battle the no. 13 Oregon State Beavers inside the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The Longhorns have been stellar in postseason play under Mack Brown going 9-4 during his tenure in Austin. Texas will get the chance to extend that mark with a little history on their side considering Big 12 representatives have won each of the past 5 Alamo Bowl pairings.
Still, the Longhorns will be slight underdogs when they meet the Beavers who will make their first postseason appearance in 3 years on December 29th. Oregon State had somewhat of a breakout year in the Pac-12 compiled by a solid 9-3 campaign and the opportunity to reach 10 wins for just the 3rd time in school history. Coach Mike Riley has the Beavers playing well on both sides of the football. Both defense and offense rank inside the top 35 teams in the country. Perhaps defense has carried the team a bit more this season especially in a few of the wins earlier this season.
However, Oregon State poises a hardy passing offense that has averaged 316 yards (15th in FBS) per game this season between two different quarterbacks. Sophomore Sean Mannion started the season behind center leading the Beavers to a 4-0 start before suffering a knee injury that kept him sidelined until the final 3 games of the year. Mannion has been hot and cold at times this season. He threw 4 picks in two different games against Washington and Oregon. Then he was terrific in games against Arizona and California tossing 7 scores with just 1 pick. The young quarterback has a ton of potential but it is hard to grasp any true offensive expectations until he gains some consistency.
Luckily Mannion has two deadly wide receivers in his passing arsenal. Senior WR Markus Keaton leads the team with 88 catches for 1,208 yards and 11 touchdowns. Sophomore Brandin Cooks has added to the stout passing game by catching 64 passes for 1,120 yards and 5 touchdowns. Combined the two standouts have posted just as many yards as any other duo in the country. If Mannion can have a solid performance, both receivers should be able to find open space against the Longhorns’ mediocre pass defense.
It is no secret that Texas has struggled on defense this year. The Longhorns gave up more than 50 points per game during a 3 week stretch against West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Baylor. As a whole, the Texas defense has relinquished 413 yards (75th in FBS) per game this season despite playing decent during the final 4 weeks. The goal for the defense against Oregon State will be simple. Get pressure on Mannion. As documented earlier, Mannion has had consistency issues and the Longhorns could really help their cause by forcing a few turnovers.
Offensively, the Longhorns have produced solid results averaging 36 points (24th in FBS) per game. Coach Brown has maintained balance this year on the ground and through the air. Running back Joe Bergeron has posted 16 touchdowns on the ground while averaging just less than 5 yards per touch. Additionally, the passing game is highlighted by two extremely talented receivers in Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley.
The question marks for the offense reside behind center where the Longhorns have juggled quarterbacks during the latter part of the year. QB David Ash led the team most of the year and did a fair job by completing 67% passing for 17 scores and 7 picks. However after a few dismal outings, Ash was benched in the final game of the year to give way to backup Case McCoy. McCoy also failed to get the job done in the loss to Kansas State in the season finale and it is clear the coaching staff has lost confidence in the play behind center. Ash will again be the starter for the Alamo Bowl but he will still be on a short leash if he fails to find rhythm. Ironically both teams have questions surrounding the quarterback play and the guy that steps up will likely lead his team to victory.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think both teams fail to get going early offensively with scoring picking up in the 2nd half. Therefore, I like my chances on the under 57!
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