Big 12: 2012 Alamo Bowl

SAN ANTONIO -- In the end the balloons fell from the sky and swirled around the jubilant, and yes relieved, Texas players and coaches.

A tumultuous season on and off the field was over with an ending that, while not to script, featured enough feel-good moments that it was clear, at least on this day, nobody would burst their bubble.

And now, following a 31-27 win over No. 13 Oregon State (9-4) in front of 65,277 fans at the Valero Alamo Bowl Saturday, the wonder is if that bubble in on the rise.

That's long been the claim of Texas coach Mack Brown. This youth-laden team was one built for the future, Brown continually contended in the face of increasing criticism. The future started 15 minutes early for Texas. The No. 23 Longhorns (9-4), an underdog who played the part to Tony-worthy accolades for three quarters, showed fourth-quarter mettle and moxie rarely seen from a program whose heartbeat had been faint for several seasons.

Finally there was a team coming together. For three years and three quarters there were questions if this collection of players, coaches and the person at the top was right for Texas football. One win won't end those questions. It will quiet them if only because of the way that win came about. Texas had not won after trailing by 10 points all season. The Longhorns trailed 27-17 after David Ash threw an ill-timed interception in the third. That's when Texas folds, Bevo shrugs and the Longhorns start talking about their next recruiting class.

Not this time. The words they had thrown around -- commitment, earn the right, swagger, never quit -- became tangible feelings and were, for the first time, manifested on the field in that fourth quarter.

Read the complete story here.

SAN ANTONIO -- Texas has been a team searching for any sort of tangible evidence that the program was at least starting to turn around after two-plus seasons that were subpar by the program's standards. Saturday night's 31-27 win against Oregon State might have done just that. While the Beavers are not exactly a juggernaut in college football, any win against a BCS-ranked team for Texas is valued and pouted at as proof that better things are on the horizon.

It was over when: Texas quarterback David Ash went up top to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left in the fourth. The touchdown gave Texas its first lead of the game at 31-27.

Game ball goes to: Texas was down to just one viable option at quarterback with Ash following the suspension of backup Case McCoy. The sophomore started slowly but came through in the end. Ash finished 21-of-33 for 241 yards with two passing touchdowns against one interception. He also rushed for another touchdown on an 11-yard run.

Stat of the game: Texas' defense posted an Alamo Bowl-record 10 sacks for minus-81 yards. Alex Okafor led the charge with a bowl-record 4.5 sacks. While Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz spent much of the game on his back, Ash was his team's second-leading rusher with 22 yards and a touchdown.

Stat of the game, part 2: Texas had 23 yards in the first quarter and failed to get a first down. In the fourth quarter, the Longhorns (9-4) had 165 yards and scored 14 points.

What it means for Texas: The Longhorns will be spared months of questions about the direction of the program and who the quarterback of the future might be. Ash was able to take control of the game when it mattered and should be the clear favorite as Texas heads into spring practice.

What it means for Oregon State: The Beavers (9-4) still had one of the top turnarounds in college football, going from a three-win season to a nine-win season, but they lacked a signature win in 2012. No doubt the solid showing against the Longhorns in Texas will help coach Mike Riley pull more players out of the state.

Podcast: Mack Brown on Texas' season

January, 3, 2012
Texas coach Mack Brown weighs in on the Alamo Bowl, how he evaluates the Longhorns' 8-5 season, the expectations in Austin and more.

Valero Alamo Bowl

December, 4, 2011
Washington Huskies (7-5) vs. Baylor Bears (9-3)

Dec. 29, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Washington take from Pac-12 blogger Ted Miller: Washington took another step forward in 2011 in the third season under Steve Sarkisian, but it needs to win the Alamo Bowl in order to finish with a better record than last season.

The big positive to the season was the surprisingly quick emergence of QB Keith Price. The expectation was he'd be a game manager after replacing Jake Locker. Instead, he was a playmaker who put up substantially better numbers than Locker did in 2010. The big negative to the season was the defense, which ranked 94th in the nation in total defense and 99th in scoring. Not good numbers considering that Nick Holt is one of the nation's highest paid defensive coordinators.

The Huskies were a little slow out of the gate. They played closer-than-they-wanted games with Eastern Washington and Hawaii and then lost at Nebraska. But then they won three in a row and were nationally ranked when they headed to Stanford. But the Cardinal humbled the Huskies 65-21, rushing for 446 yards. The Huskies beat Arizona, then lost three in a row. Getting whipped by Oregon and USC is understandable. Losing at Oregon State was not. But they bounced back with a win over rival Washington State to finish 7-5.

There was progress from a 7-6 season in 2010. If the Huskies remember the Alamo.

Baylor take from Big 12 blogger David Ubben: The Bears have become must-see TV, and Robert Griffin III is the reason why. He's athletic, elusive, and loves to sling it. Nobody throws the deep ball better, and nobody's a better player. But don't listen to the folks who claim RG3 has no help. He's throwing to one of the nation's best receivers in Kendall Wright, who'll run right by most defensive backs. Terrance Ganaway's 240-pound frame has filled out the Bears' offense, winning the Big 12 rushing title with 1,347 yards and 16 touchdowns.

It's a big year for the Bears, who might have their first Heisman winner, despite a defense that's struggled for much of the year. That said, 9-3 is 9-3, and Baylor is riding high into the postseason for the second consecutive year after a 16-year drought.