Alamo Bowl

Are We Going to See a New Type of Oregon Football?

Summer’s perennial promise has again faded into guilt. I am not so old that summer has lost all its romance, yet every summer I grow more eager for the gift of fall: Oregon football. And as each season starts, we...

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Bones of Cupcakes Litter Road to Final Four

Mike Merrrell’s Three-and-Out The path to the national championship is teeming with eastern teams leaving bones of cupcakes in their wake. The conference with the toughest, deepest competition is relegated to being the only of the Five Power Conferences with...

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Gameday: Bowl season is coming and you won’t want to miss these games

In the opening year of the College Football Playoff, the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, which will act as the semi-finals are obvious can’t miss games. But if you are wonder what else there is to watch, look no further.

Here’s a list of match-ups taking place this bowl season that you won’t want to miss:

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

Baylor vs. Michigan State

The No. 5 Baylor Bears were as close as they could be to making the College Football Playoffs. But, Ohio State got the nod. Now Baylor will have its hands full in what is sure to be a statement game when facing No. 8 Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl. As the nation’s top-scoring offense, Baylor will face a tough Michigan State defense. The Spartans have struggled against top offenses in their games against Oregon and Ohio State – their only two losses this season. But the big question: How will Baylor slow down Michigan State’s offense, who also ranks in the top 10 in scoring this season?

Jan. 1, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. PST on ESPN

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl

Texas Christian University vs. University of Missouri  

There was probably no team more disappointed with the final College Football Playoff rankings than No. 6 TCU. The Horned Frogs were No. 3 in the previous rankings, but dropped three spots last Sunday. So if you’re looking for a game with drama, here it is. On the other side of the field, No. 9 Ole Miss presents a difficult task for TCU. The Rebels held opponents to just 13.8 points per game this season, the best in the nation. After back-to-back wins over Alabama and Texas A&M, many thought the Rebels were one of the best teams in the country. But then they fell apart with consecutive losses against LSU and Auburn. Watch for Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, who is trying to become the first ever Rebel quarterback to start and win three bowl games.

Dec. 31, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. PST on ESPN

Valero Alamo Bowl

UCLA vs. Kansas State 

Besides Oregon’s Rose Bowl game, this is one of the more intriguing bowl game involving a Pac-12 program. No. 14 UCLA will hope to move on from its disastrous defeat at the hands of Stanford, which cost it the Pac-12 South title and an invitation to the Pac-12 Championship. UCLA will have to rely on quarterback Brett Hundley in what will very likely be his final game with the Bruins. Kansas State’s season was, if anything, consistent. With three losses on the season to teams either ranked No. 5 or No. 6 at the time, Kansas State missed opportunities to make its name known in the national spotlight. With that said, the Wildcats did beat a No. 11 Oklahoma on the road in a 31-30 nail-biter.

Jan. 2, 2015 at 3:45 p.m. PST on ESPN

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Notre Dame vs. No. 23 LSU

Dec. 30, 2014 at 12 p.m. PST on ESPN

Belk Bowl

No. 13 Georgia vs. No. 21 Louisville

Dec. 30, 2014 3:30 p.m. PST on ESPN

Vizio Fiesta Bowl

No. 20 Boise State vs. No. 10 Arizona

Dec. 31, 2014 at 1 p.m. PST on ESPN

Outback Bowl

No. 19 Auburn vs. No. 18 Wisconsin

Jan. 1, 2015 at 9 a.m. on ESPN2

Colorado Native Baylis Talks Upcoming Game, Senior Day

With the Colorado game looming closer, emotions are rising as this Saturday will be the last game for the Ducks’ seniors. These strong feelings in the home finale could ultimately fuel the Ducks into dominating the Buffaloes. When...

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Oregon football lost over $689,000 from Alamo Bowl appearance

The Oregon football program experienced a loss of $689,353 from its appearance in the Alamo Bowl this past December. As part of a public records request, The Oregonian acquired a breakdown of the trip’s expenses, which detailed the total bowl expenses. The figure for these expenses was over $2.5 million.

The largest contributors to the bowl expenses were coach/staff bonuses ($1,058,664) and travel ($836,686). The supplies expense was next largest at $238,895 (supplies included commemorative rings and T-shirts for the Oregon band).

While large, Oregon’s senior associate athletic director for marketing and public relations Craig Pintens told The Oregonian that bowl expenses like these are not out of the norm.

“It’s just something that we budget for, none of this is a surprise to us necessarily,” Pintens said. “Depending on which bowl we go to we adjust our travel size accordingly, our supplies accordingly and so on. We always want to operate on a zero-based budget.”

Oregon’s reimbursements/revenues from the trip to San Antonio came in at $1,839,481, with $1,800,491 coming from the Pac-12 Conference.

Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415

Oregon cornerback Troy Hill pleads guilty to menacing

Oregon cornerback Troy Hill pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of menacing Friday morning. He also had a criminal mischief charge dismissed, per a plea deal with the prosecutors.

“I’d just like to apologize for my actions,” Hill said to Lane County Circuit Court judge Cynthia Carlson.

The court sentenced Hill to 36 months of probation, $200 in fines, 70 hours of community service (10 of which must be must be completed by the end of March) and three days in jail. His jail time, however, was waived due to previous time served. He must also complete a treatment program for anger, which is expected to last six months.

Both charges stemmed from a domestic violence arrest on Dec. 13 when Hill was arrested for menacing and felony counts of fourth-degree assault, including strangulation, after an argument with his girlfriend in his apartment. Part of his sentence restricts him from making contact with her.

One Oregon source told Andrew Grief of The Oregonian that Hill will be reinstated to all team activities shortly, as long as he complies with a “behavioral contract.”

An Oregon source says Troy Hill will be reinstated to all team activities shortly, with the condition he abides by a “behavioral contract.”

— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) Jan. 31, 2014

Hill was suspended for the final Oregon home game of the season against Oregon State for undisclosed reasons. He was later suspended from all activities related to the Alamo Bowl, including the game, due to menacing, assault and criminal mischief charges and did not travel with the team to San Antonio.

Follow Chris Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur

Recruiting Analysis: Buckle Up as National Signing Day Approaches like a Blur

Coaches don’t get gray hair in November, they get it in January.  This is the time of year, while most think college football has gone cold and dark, that coaches everywhere are making a frenzied final push to sign the best class they possibly can.  This includes ensuring their class doesn’t suffer any losses, which is tough considering the number of recruiting vultures waiting in the shadows.

Coaches need to continue pursuing long-term targets who haven’t yet made a decision.  They need to identify new prospects who inevitably emerge after coaching changes and other events.  Then, they need to pursue THOSE targets as well.

Finally, they need to wait; wait for decisions over which they have no control.  Hope that a teenager in whom they invested so much time, energy and money recruiting, will buy-in and sign on the dotted line.  Wait and hope the gray doesn’t make them look too much older.

Jimmie Swain should help the Oregon LB core

Jimmie Swain should help Oregon’s relatively shallow LB core.

Nearly a month ago, I predicted that the Ducks would round out their class with Budda Baker, Jimmie Swain, Frank Iheanacho, Mattrell McGraw and Nick Gates.

Since then, Baker and Swain have committed to Oregon while Iheanacho joined a loaded Texas A&M class.

Meanwhile, McGraw and Gates still seem likely to end up Ducks, along with 300-pound defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao, who just de-committed from Texas on Tuesday.

During the month of January, though, nothing is guaranteed as recruiting resembles the organized chaos of a first-grader’s birthday party.  The coming weeks are sure to be crazy.

Just thinking about all of the differing possibilities is dizzying.  McGraw, who some believe is a silent Oregon commit, was just offered by Texas A&M and may visit.  Who’s to say he won’t love it down in College Station?

Oregon’s main competition for Gates is also the Aggies, who’ve long been considered the front runners in his recruitment.  Insiders may feel that both end up in lightning yellow and thunder green, but those predictions could change tomorrow.

After formally de-committing from Texas, most felt Lealaimatafao would be a lock for Oregon following his upcoming visit on January 17th.  That is until rumors began swirling that he would use his fifth and final visit to check out USC, where Bo Davis, the defensive line coach who recruited Trey to Texas, just accepted the same position after the recent coaching shake-up in Austin.  Oregon is still in a good spot, but things could change on a dime.

Can Isaiah McKenzie help to replace De'Anthony Thomas?

Can Isaiah McKenzie help replace De’Anthony Thomas?

Look at Derick Roberson, the Texas commit who was thought to be accompanying Lealaimatafao on his upcoming Oregon visit.  Being from San Antonio, like Lealaimatafao and Oregon commit Aarion Springs, it was easy to get excited about the possibility of a package deal; until word came out that Roberson loves the Charlie Strong hire and probably won’t be visiting anymore — unless he finally succumbs to Springs’ continued tweeting/recruiting and agrees to check out Eugene.

Then there’s wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, also known as the “human joystick,” a 5-foot-9 jitterbug from Florida who looked great in the Under Armour All-American game.  He received an Oregon offer shortly after and has since posted a couple of pro-Oregon tweets.  It can’t hurt that he’s being contacted by Springs and LaMichael James on Twitter (the social-networking site that has become surprisingly instrumental in recruiting).

Who knows how his recruitment will play out; he’s been considered a strong Notre Dame lean for quite some time, but if he visits, you’ve got to like Oregon’s chances with the 4-star recruit (247 rating).

The season may be over, but Mark Helfrich still has his work cut out for him

The season may be over, but Mark Helfrich still has much work remaining on the recruiting trail.

What’s this – another late offer?  It’s been confirmed that 4-star defensive tackle Poona Ford, a Louisville commit, has also received an Oregon offer.

With Charlie Strong leaving, Ford has opened up his recruitment and actually contacted the Oregon staff directly.  Word is that he wants to stay close to home, but he wouldn’t have contacted the Ducks if he wasn’t interested.  And hey, this is January after all.

I’m telling you, crazy things happen in January, and from what I hear the coaches are fully expecting some craziness to ensue.  Including when it comes to 5-star prospect John “JuJu” Smith who is currently considered a USC lock.  Multiple sources close to the program inform me that Oregon’s coaches feel they’ve got a real shot at landing him.  Smith signing with Oregon last minute and leaving Los Angeles would be a DAT-esque coup.

Expecting the unexpected may be cliche’ and illogical, but shoot, why not.  Go ahead and do it.  This is recruiting, it’s January, national signing day is less than a month away and the Ducks are still in the running for some serious talent.  Embrace the craziness!

Top Photo by D.C. Photography

Bookmark this website and check back regularly for Oregon and Pac-12 football recruiting news.  Chris Charbonnier provides the best, most insightful and objectively fact-based information on player recruiting and team talent evaluation.

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Oregon Ducks Take Down Texas in the Alamo Bowl

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The No. 10 Oregon Ducks defeated the Texas Longhorns 30-7 in the Valero Alamo Bowl , allowing departing UO defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti to sail into the sunset with his head held high. Aliotti’s defensive unit delivered one of its most dominating performances of the season, turning two interceptions into touchdowns and completely shutting down the Texas passing game. The Ducks finished their 2013 campaign with an 11-2 record, their fourth season in a row with at least 11 wins. Also, head coach Mark Helfrich tied the Pac-12 record for most wins by a first year head coach. 65,918 fans witnessed the action, the second highest turnout in Alamo Bowl history. Though the vast majority were decked out in burnt orange apparel.

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Photo by D.C. Photography for FishDuck.com

Marcus Mariota led the way for Oregon offensively, throwing for 253 yards and one touchdown and rushing for 134 yards on 15 carries. Josh Huff was not only the leading Ducks receiver, accumulating 104 yards receiving on five receptions, but broke the UO record for most receiving yards in a single season with 1140. UO kicker Matt Wogan had the busiest night of his freshman year, making three of four kicks. Oregon RB’s struggled all night to find running lanes. In fact, no UO RB had more than 50 yards rushing or five yards per carry.

Though Texas had 180 yards rushing, its passing game was nonexistent. Longhorns starting QB Case McCoy only threw for 48 yards on 2.8 yards per pass attempt. He also threw two pick six’s to Avery Patterson and Derrick Malone and was taken out of the game in the fourth quarter.

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Photo – D.C. Photography for Fishduck.com

On the opening drive of the game, Patterson turned an interception into a touchdown, the third pick-six of his career. UO then forced a three and out on the Longhorns second drive. On the Ducks opening drive, Mariota ran for 54 yards, but after being sidelined because his helmet fell off, UO stalled near the end zone. However, Wogan knocked in a field goal.

But Texas struck back with a drive eclipsing seven minutes in length, highlighted by powerful and at times acrobatic runs by Texas RB Malcolm Brown and a fourth and eight conversion on a slants play to WR Jaxon Shipley. McCoy’s one yard QB sneak finished the drive.

On the following UO possession, after a successful 37 yard completion on a crossing route, disaster struck. On the same play, Mariota was stripped(though the ball went out of bounds) and LT Tyler Johnstone seriously injured his knee and didn’t return.

photo by D.C. Photography for Fishduck.com
photo by D.C. Photography for Fishduck.com

After a few more penalties and Mariota missing another play because his helmet was ripped off, the Ducks were forced to punt.

However, UO quickly got the ball back and delivered its best drive of the game. The Ducks went 88 yards in only 1:22 seconds, culminated by a shovel pass from Mariota to Huff for a touchdown.

Oregon led Texas 20-7 at the half. Mariota ran the ball for 132 yards on 12 carries and threw for 130 yards and one touchdown in the first half.

On the Ducks opening drive of the second half, Wogan added another field goal from 39 yards out. However, Mariota began to have problems with his knee and was forced to limit his mobility for the duration of the game.

On UO’s following drive, Huff caught a few passes and sealed his place in the Ducks history books. However, on third down Mariota was thrown down like a rag doll by a Texas defensive player by his face mask. Shockingly, the refs failed to call a face mask penalty. The following play, Wogan missed a short field goal.

photo by D.C. Photography for Fishduck.com
photo by D.C. Photography for Fishduck.com

Later on, Malone caught a McCoy pass and sliced and diced his way into the end zone for UO’s second pick-six of the night. The play not only gave the UO defense more points than the Texas offense, but was the last meaningful play of the game. After the clock struck zero, the Ducks had officially defeated a Big-12 school in a bowl game for the second consecutive season.

The game also marked the end of Mack Brown’s storied 16 season career as the head coach of the Texas Longhorns. Brown’s career was highlighted by 10 straight nine win seasons and one national championship in 2006.

Aliotti was with the Ducks off and on since 1984 and served as the UO defensive coordinator since 1999. Aliotti will always be remembered for his bright sense of humor, love of beer and for cultivating a fast and tenacious defense over nearly the last two decades.

As for the Ducks as a whole, they may not have envisioned their season coming to an end before 2014, but can at least take solace in defeating a marquee program and finishing with a stellar 11-2 record. Plus, with the return of Mariota, Grasu, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Terrance Mitchell, they should be toward the top of the preseason rankings yet again.

Oregon Ducks Show Off New Designs for Alamo Bowl

  Oregon is usually known for their unique uniforms, but for the Alamo Bowl there is an additional element to their game, actually a few. The first is the End Zone graphics being used(shown below), as well as their shoes and uniform combination. The game will be televised by ESPN on Monday at 3:45pm PT. […]

Oregon Ducks Show Off New Designs for Alamo Bowl – Autzen Zoo – Autzen Zoo – An Oregon Ducks Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and more.

Defense Optional When Oregon and Texas Meet In Alamo Bowl

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As the Ducks make the final preparations for their first non BCS bowl game since 2008 and defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti prepares to ride off into the sunset, cold Coors in hand, much of the focus will be on slowing down a Longhorn rushing attack that has picked up nearly 200 yards a game this season. In Longhorn home games–and let’s face it, the Alamo Bowl figures to be more or less a UT home game–Mack Brown’s squad has rushed for 231 yards a game.

Since Washington’s Bishop Sankey ran for 167 yards against the Ducks, Aliotti’s defense hasn’t exactly been a brick wall against the run. The Ducks surrendered 200-plus rushing yards to UCLA, Stanford, Arizona, and Oregon State. In Friday’s Alamo Bowl presser, the Ducks longtime defensive coordinator acknowledged he didn’t have his team ready to play against Arizona.

“I didn’t have them ready,” Aliotti said, “We didn’t play great. It’s probably one of the worst games that we’ve played that I can remember.”

In the same breath, Aliotti defended his team’s performance against Stanford, emphasizing that the Cardinal ran the ball 66 times against the Ducks, making the 274 yards the Ducks surrendered seem a little more reasonable. For the mathematically challenged, that comes out to 4.15 yards a cary, the epitome of a four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense. So while Aliotti may point out that Stanford didn’t throw the ball much against the Ducks, it was because Oregon had no answer for Stanford’s power runs.

To be fair, the brunt of the blame for Oregon’s last two losses to Stanford falls on the offense, and Texas’s defense hasn’t looked too hot, either.

Oregon's longtime defensive coordinator will coach his last game for the Ducks when Oregon takes on Texas in the Alamo Bowl.  (GoDucks)

Oregon’s longtime defensive coordinator will coach his last game for the Ducks when Oregon takes on Texas in the Alamo Bowl.
(GoDucks)

The Longhorns have given up 180 yards a game on the ground in 2013, about 30 yards a game more than the Ducks, and the 21 rushing touchdowns the Longhorns have given up are five more than Oregon’s number in that department. All told, the Longhorns have given up over four football fields of yardage per game.

With Marcus Mariota’s knee at full strength for the first time in many moons, Oregon’s zone-read attack can return to the two headed monster it was last season–and that will open up the passing game as well. Even with the Ducks superstar Hawaiian forced to play more one-dimensionally than he would like, and even with Mark Helfrich and Scott Frost implementing a more pass-first offense, Oregon has a top ten rushing offense nationally, despite not having single thousand yard rusher–though Byron Marshall is five yards away from breaking the four digit plateau.

Texas doesn’t have a thousand yard guy, either, but the backfield duo of Jonathan Gray and Malcom Brown are each closer to 800 yards than 700.

Since Kiko Alonso and company left the Ducks, Oregon's front seven hasn't looked the same against the run.
Since Kiko Alonso and company left the Ducks, Oregon’s front seven hasn’t looked the same against the run.

While games that promise to be offensive shootouts rarely live up to the hype, there is certainly potential for the Alamo Bowl to be a high scoring affair, that is unless either team’s defense decides to show up. If the Ducks team that played against Arizona strolls onto the Alamo Bowl field–look out. But if Aliotti can get his team to play the way they did a season ago against Collin Klein, Oregon will ruin coach Brown’s final hour at Texas.