OREGON STATE BEAVERS (9-3)
vs. TEXAS LONGHORNS (8-4)
Alamo Bowl - San Antonio, TX
Kickoff: Saturday, 6:45 p.m. EDT
Line: Oregon State -3, Total: 57.5
Texas looks to stop a two-game slide when it stays close to home for Saturday's Alamo Bowl versus Oregon State.
Neither team is playing particularly well as Oregon State has alternated wins and losses in each of the past seven games, while Texas finished the year getting outscored 62 to 37 during a two-game losing skid. Both teams have injury concerns to key offensive starters, but it appears that most (if not all) will play. Mack Brown has chosen to start David Ash (8.6 YPA, 17 TD, 7 INT) coming off a ribs injury at quarterback, instead of going with Case McCoy (9.5 YPA, 6 TD, 3 INT). Beavers QB Sean Mannion has thrown for 220+ yards in every full game, but he also tossed 4 INT in his last game versus an FBS team (Oregon). That poor showing was partly why Mike Riley (5-1 SU bowl record) announced that Cody Vaz will start under center on Saturday.
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Texas has usually played well in bowl games under Mack Brown, going 9-4 since he arrived in Austin. And the offense has also clicked this season with 36.1 PPG on 441 total YPG. The sophomore Ash has been very accurate this season, completing 68% of his passes, and he'll need to be very careful with his throws against a talented Beavers secondary. Texas has turned the ball over just 15 times this season, but seven have come during the two straight losses, including five interceptions. With former offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin leaving Texas to coach Arkansas State, Major Applewhite will be calling the plays on Saturday. He'll have no qualms trying to run the football as his team averages 179 rushing YPG on 4.7 YPC this season. The Texas defense has been repeatedly burned this year, but has made great strides in the past five games with 21.6 PPG and 328 total YPG allowed, which is a huge improvement from the 35.0 PPG and 472 total YPG it surrendered in the season's first seven contests.
Oregon State tied the largest win improvement in the country this year, going from three wins last year to nine victories in 2012. This tripled win total has been even more impressive considering the flux the Beavers have had at the quarterback position with Sean Mannion (knee) and Cody Vaz (ankle) both suffering significant injuries. Both players were nearly perfect in the team's season finale versus Nicholls State, a 77-3 pounding. Mannion connected on 20-of-23 throws for 231 yards (10.0 YPA) and 2 TD, while Vaz was 14-of-17 for 190 yards (11.2 YPA) and 3 TD. Despite the interchanging parts, OSU still posted 33.0 PPG and 316 passing YPG (8.0 YPA) for the season. Much of that had to do with WR Markus Wheaton, whose 101 receiving YPG placed him 11th in the nation. Defensively, the Beavers are very skilled, and love making plays on the ball. They forced 30 turnovers this season (T-12th in FBS), including 19 interceptions (T-6th in nation).