For Texas fans, the Alamo Bowl is an opportunity to test the progress of the Longhorns program still striving to get back to the top of the college football mountain top.
The Texas Longhorns face the Oregon State Beavers for the third time in the series at the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, TX on December 29th. Leading up to the game, we'll be taking a look under the hood at the OSU team providing clarity as to why Mack Brown said, "You don't like to play friends, but you like to play people you respect, and in this case we've got both."
Alamo Bowl schedule of events.
Oregon State University
Location - Corvallis, OR
Stadium - Originally named for its initial donor Charles Parker, Reser Stadium currently has seating capacity for 45,674 screaming Beavers fans, an increase of better than 20% after recently receiving a $115 million renovation. Interestingly, in state rival Oregon's stadium, Autzen, is named for OSU alum and influential lumber/plywood pioneer Thomas Autzen.
Mascot - Benny the Beaver used to be Jimmie the Coyote. Hmmmm.
Conference - One of four founding schools to form the Pacific Coast Conference (Washington, Oregon, Cal) which was in operation between 1915 and 1959. Like many regional conferences, the PCC dissolved under a cloud of financial impropriety on the part of many member institutions. Reformed as the Pac 8, then 10, then 12, then ......
Championships - Since 1893 the Beavers have tied or won their conference 6 times.
All-time record - 502-547-50 (.4795)
Bowl Record - OSU has not been to many bowl games (15) but their winning percentage when given the chance is remarkably high at 66%, trailing only Utah (.765) with 15 or more post season appearances. Their last postseason game was against BYU in the 2009 Las Vegas bowl where they lost 20-44 against a Max Hall led Cougar team which saw the BYU defense shut down the Rodgers brothers (Jacquizz and James) holding them to season lows in rushing and receiving.
Beginning with 2-time national championship and former University of Miami coach Dennis Erickson taking over as head coach in 1999, OSU had their best post-season run in school history appearing in bowl games in 9 of 11 seasons winning all but 3 of those contests. Two of those wins came against Notre Dame with the most significant being the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. OSU finished the year ranked #4 in the country which was their highest final ranking in school history.
Notable - Oregon State has its first and only Heisman trophy winner in 1962 when quarterback Terry Baker took home the prize. He is the first winner west of Texas and the only winner from the northwest United States. Baker was the first player selected in the 1963 NFL draft.
Coaching Resume - Mike Riley is an Oregon football legend. As quarterback, he led the Corvallis High Spartans to two straight state title games against Medford, winning the second match up. And like Mack Brown he is a coaches son. His dad was the defensive coordinator at Oregon State in the late 60's. Coach Riley left Oregon and played for legendary coach Bear Bryant as a reserve defensive back at Alabama and was on the 1973 UPI national championship team (for the record, the title was split with Notre Dame and always announced at the end of the regular season. Notre Dame beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl that year).
Like many coaches, Mike Riley spent his formidable years bouncing from one coaching job to the next. His first break came in 1987 when he became the head coach for the Winnepeg Bombers of the Canadian Football League. He led the team to two Grey Cups.
Riley's first stint as Oregon State's head coach came in 1997 but lasted only two seasons before taking a job as the head coach for the San Diego Chargers. It would be three years as the head guy there and one more as an assistant to Mike Ditka at New Orleans before returning to Corvallis as head coach of the Beavers in 2003.
This season Coach Riley became the all time wins leader at OSU with his 75th victory. His record now stands at 81-66.
Fan Support - Beavers are not into limp wrists. Who knew?
Texas vs. OSU History - The teams have faced off only twice, once in 1980 and again in 1987. Fred Akers was Texas head coach the first go round in a rousing non-conference victory for the Longhorns as they trounced OSU 35-0 in Austin. The Beavers were no match for a Texas defense that included the likes of Kenneth Sims and Doug Shankle. Texas' defense had 16 TFL's, including 3 sacks, 4 PBU's, 3 interceptions, and 2 fumbles and the offense racked up almost 500 yards for the game on the backs of A.J. "Jam" Jones and Rick McIvor. Texas won its opening 5 games that season and rose to 2nd in the national rankings. The Longhorns would go on to one of its most disappointing seasons losing 5 of its last 7 ball games.
The 1987 matchup in Austin was David McWilliams third game as head coach of the Longhorns. Texas began the season in back-to-back losses to 5th ranked Auburn and BYU. If the first meeting was a trouncing, this second one was a melee as Texas burned OSU 61-16 playing keep away with 37 minutes of possession time leading to 492 yards of offense and another big day by Eric Metcalf. And in an almost identical defensive performance, the Longhorns forced 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles by the Beavers. Texas finished the season with a 7-5 record (eerily similar to 1980) with one of those losses to OU by 5 touchdowns.
Season Story Line - To say that Oregon State was under the radar prior to the 2012 season kicking off is a vast overstatement. Pac 12 sportswriters picked the Beavers to finish no better than last in the North division. And who can blame them given the dismal 2010 and 2011 seasons where the Beavers won a total of 8 games.
Needless to say they surprised many and became one of the great stories this season heading into the Alamo Bowl with a 9-3 record, with big time wins versus BYU, UCLA, and Wisconsin, and 7 points away from two more wins barely losing to Washington and Stanford. The Washington loss came on an away game and after beating Utah in week 6 homecoming game to push their record to 6-0 with a 7th slot ranking in the AP and Coaches polls.
The game against the Huskies was a knock-down drag-out affair. Trailing by 10 points at the half, the Beavers rallied to tie the game once at 10 then again at 17 with 5:00 remaining. But Washington's offense proved itself as it drove the length of the field and kicked what ended up being the game winning field goal with less than 2 minutes remaining on the clock.
Coach Riley coached his team to two more victories against conference foes in the next four games giving Oregon State one of their more memorable seasons in recent years. They bring a glorified scrimmage trouncing against Nichols State in their last outing to San Antonio and their reward is to play the 2nd all time winning college football program in what should be a very competitive affair.