Pac-12: Jackson Jeffcoat
SAN ANTONIO -- No. 10 Oregon beats Texas 30-7 in the Valero Alamo Bowl. A few thoughts on the game:
It was over when: Oregon safety Derrick Malone picked off a Case McCoy pass over the middle midway through the fourth quarter, then went 39 yards for the score. The Ducks went up 30-7 on McCoy’s second pick-six of the night.
Game ball goes to: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was masterful both on the ground and through the air, throwing for 253 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 133. A month off to heal a nagging knee injury did him plenty of good.
Stat of the game: McCoy finished with 48 passing yards and no touchdowns. The two passes he completed to Oregon defenders were returned for a total of 75 yards and two touchdowns.
Unsung hero: Oregon safety Avery Patterson, who gave the Ducks a 7-0 lead just 68 seconds into the game when he picked off a McCoy pass and scored on a 37-yard return. The senior added nine tackles in his final game.
Best call: The Ducks’ first score on offense came when Mariota, with Jackson Jeffcoat fast approaching, flipped to Josh Huff on a shovel pass and he found the end zone from 16 yards out. Huff finished with 104 receiving yards and a school-record 1,140 in 2013.
What Oregon learned: If Mariota makes good on his promise to return in 2014, Oregon should once again have a preseason top-10 team and plenty of firepower to make a run at a college football playoff bid.
What Texas learned: Nothing it didn’t already know, really. Its Case McCoy-led offense can pound the rock but couldn’t keep up with elite teams and capitalize on opportunities. The Longhorns couldn’t give Mack Brown a satisfying sendoff. Now it’s time to find his successor.
To watch the trophy presentation of the Valero Alamo Bowl, click here.
Valero Alamo Bowl
San Antonio, Dec. 30, 3:45 p.m. (PT), ESPN
Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4)
Coach: Mack Brown (16th season)
Record: 8-4, 7-2 Big 12
Combined opponents' record: 76-68 (.527)
Common opponents: None.
Leading passer: Case McCoy, 179-312-1,885 (57.4 percent) with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Leading rusher: Johnathan Gray (injured), 159-780 with four touchdowns.
Leading receiver: Mike Davis, 49-715 with eight touchdowns.
Leading tackler: Jackson Jeffcoat, 80 tackles, 21 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks.
What to know: Texas has been in the news lately. Perhaps you’ve heard? After compiling a 158-47 record at Texas, Brown is stepping down after the Alamo Bowl. That heaps a healthy dose of emotion on to this game as his players will no doubt be looking to win one last one for Mack.
Even before Gray went down for the rest of the year with an Achilles injury in the OT win over West Virginia in early November, Malcolm Brown was already starting to get a good chunk of the running workload. He has rushed for 774 yards and nine touchdowns on 188 carries (4.1 average).
After starting the year 1-2, which included losses to BYU and Ole Miss, the Longhorns rallied to run off six straight -- including a seemingly-unlikely win (at least at the time) over No. 12 Oklahoma.
But they lost two of their last three to ranked Oklahoma State and Baylor, giving them a mark of 1-3 against ranked teams this season.
This is a question of motivation for the Ducks, who have to be lamenting missing out on a fifth-straight BCS bowl game after Oklahoma was selected ahead of them for the Allstate Sugar Bowl. On paper, the Ducks are the superior team. It’s just a question of whether they can suppress that disappointment and not let Texas get too caught up in the emotion of Brown’s departure.
Key matchup: As is always the case when you play Oregon, how are you going to stop the run? That’s something Texas hasn’t been very good at this season. The Longhorns rank 80th in the country, yielding 180.3 yards per game on the ground. They’ve also given up 21 rushing touchdowns and allow 4.2 yards per carry. The Ducks average 278.3 yards per game on the ground, which ranks ninth nationally. And all eyes should be on Jeffcoat. Depth-wise, the Longhorns are hurting defensively and are down to about three linebackers and a couple of defensive tackles. Brown said at one point he feels like they lost eight to 10 of his best players to injury. But Oregon shouldn't get too cocky. Jeffcoat is legit. Lest we forget another defensive end from Texas who spoiled the bowl hopes of a team from Oregon last year.
USC, at No. 10, is tops among six conference teams in the national top 25.
Recall that seven Pac-10 teams were ranked at some point last season and five were ranked in the final regular-season BCS standings.
Ah, but then also recall that only two were ranked after a woeful 2-5 bowl season.
So, the big question with the Pac-10 and recruiting is not unlike it was in the postseason: Can the conference close the deal?
Things are fairly fluid right now. A "commitment" doesn't mean much. For example:
Stanford, which had taken some recruiting hits of late, punched back at one of its victimizers, Notre Dame, by snagging an ESPNU 150 defensive end.
Oregon just grabbed a receiver previously committed to Washington.
Washington is trying to give Arizona that sort of treatment over a defensive tackle.
So don't take anything for granted. It's the signature on Feb. 3 that matters.
You can follow the plot twists here.
The biggest names remaining in play among Pac-10 teams on the ESPNU 150 are:
- DE Jackson Jeffcoat (Arizona State & USC)
- OL Seantrel Henderson (USC)
- DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA)
- WR Markeith Ambles (USC)
- RB Lache Seastrunk (Oregon & USC)
- S Sean Paker (California, USC, Washington)
- S Dietrich Riley (USC, UCLA)
- DT Ricky Heimuli (Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington)
- DT J.R. Ferguson (California)
First, fans and media -- particularly around Tennessee -- are outraged. And the media reaction in LA isn't exactly a warm hug.
But one place where Kiffin landing at USC is seemingly being met with great cheer is recruiting. At least on the Trojans' end of things.
Tennessee? Not so much.
You can follow along here -- count on numerous updates over the coming days as national signing day nears.
The early returns are the Vols are getting a number of decommits from their class, which was ranked sixth in the nation before Kiffin bolted, while USC's class is getting good news, starting with a reaffirmation from elite receiver Kyle Prater, who told ESPN's Greg Biggins that he will enroll at USC next week and be available to participate in spring practices.
What about QB Jesse Scroggins?
"[I'm] Overjoyed. Excited," Scroggins told ESPN affiliate Web site WeAreSC.com. "Lane recruited me at Tennessee as his No. 1 quarterback. I went on an unofficial visit to Tennessee in April. At that time he told me he was going to run an offensive system similar to USC and that I was perfect for the system."The big question: Will some of these marquee Tennessee guys follow Kiffin to USC?
And what about big-ticket recruits like DE Ronald Powell (a Florida commit over USC), DE Jackson Jeffcoat (uncommitted), OT Brice Schwab (a USC decommit after Pete Carroll's departure to Seattle) and OT Seantrel Henderson (uncommitted)?
Here's the shocker: With Kiffin and recruiting star Ed Orgeron back in Heritage Hall, the Trojans' class might actually moves up in the national rankings -- it's presently 11th -- after Carroll's departure.
Who saw that coming?