He's the same guy who reported a three-year bowl ban for Oregon the night before the NCAA decision was announced, based on his "sources," but Stewart Mandel forecasts doom for the Ducks at the Alamodome in his annual bowl forecast:
"On paper, there's no reason to pick against the heavily favored Ducks, especially with quarterback Marcus Mariota expected to be fully recovered from his knee injury. But it feels as if Mack Brown is meant to win his farewell game. Texas tailback Malcolm Brown could exploit a shaky Oregon rushing defense, while Hendricks Award winner Jackson Jeffcoat will look to pressure Mariota."
The long good-bye: while it's true the Texas players are playing to send Mack Brown out with a win, they've been playing for his job for four years, and that didn't help them much. The Ducks have motivations that are just as solid, and maybe even more sustainable over four quarters of football.
The cbs.com columnist is 5-1 in his bowl picks so far, but his reasoning on the Valero Alamo Bowl rings pretty flimsy. Farewell game! Ted Hendricks award! Big running back!
Yeah, well, maybe. The impetus of playing for Mack Brown will last half a quarter, and the Oregon players have solid motivations of their own. This is a group with a lot of loyalty to each other. They could have folded in the Civil War, but didn't, gutting out a clutch, come-from-behind win with inspired performances by Taylor Hart, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Josh Huff, Marcus Mariota and Thomas Tyner. It was the kind of win that reinforces the sense of playing for each other.
The team got a tremendous additional lift when Mariota and all-league center Hroniss Grasu announced they were returning next year. Both are two-time all-conference players who could have made big money in the NFL draft. Suddenly this game means a lot more. It's a down payment on the team they want to become, and two exceptional players have stepped forward and identified themselves as the leaders on that team.
Another corps of great players provides additional motivation for the players around them in that this is a homecoming for them. Josh Huff, Bralon Addison, Chance Allen, Torrodney Prevot, Eric and Stephen Amoako and Damion Hobbs all hail from the Lone Star State, and their excitement to play before family and friends will be infectious. They've no doubt talked up this trip among their teammates, bringing extra intensity to practice.
Huff in particular, coming off an inspired, career-defining performance in the Civil War, will be amped to end his college career in his home state. On Twitter last night he saluted Brandin Cooks for his effort in the Hawaii Bowl, and Oregon fans can expect that the senior, who's had a brilliant and memorable season and a terrific Oregon career, will be dialed in to finish both emphatically.
The 4-year starter was passed over for all-conference honors despite 1,036 yards, 11 touchdowns and 18.2 yards a catch, and he's a guy who looks for ways to motivate himself in big games. He'll use that, even though wins are more important to him. Huff brings a lot a confidence to his matchup with a suspect Texas secondary after a 3-touchdown night against the Beavs, including a clutch grab to win the game with 29 seconds to play.
Mandel seriously underestimates the impact of a healthy Mariota, and a healthy Byron Marshall beside him. While Malcom Brown certainly is a big, capable running back, the Ducks have a decided edge in the ground game when you factor in Marshall, Mariota, and freshman Tyner, who's emerged in a big way over the last two months of the season.
Though Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat absolutely is a formidable challenge as a disruptive outside rusher, Oregon left tackle Tyler Johnstone has done a capable job all season in similar circumstances, facing Anthony Barr, Scott Crichton, and Trevor Reilly of Utah in the last several weeks. Jeffcoat's a great player, but with quick backs, an elusive quarterback and a smart, resourceful offensive line, Oregon has a lot of ways to attack a middling Texas defense that earned lumps of coal in its stocking against similar offenses in the Big-12, notably Baylor and Oklahoma State, and BYU before that.
It will take more than a hunch and a halftime speech to beat Oregon in San Antonio. The Ducks bring plenty of motivation of their own. Knowing that they were passed over for a BCS bowl, Monday will be their night to show they belong in the Top Ten and don't plan on being passed over next year when the four-team playoff begins.
C'mon guys have faith. Texas right now doesn't belong on the same field as Oregon. We are not really missing any pieces to an ELITE team and Texas is. Texas can not touch Oregon's offensive weapons and will NOT contain them all game long. Remember this........MM is HEALTHY!!! He was not and probably should not have played in the Stanford game but did because of the implications of the game. He was NOT healthy is the Arizona game as well but was a little healthier. NO BRACE in practice means trouble for opposing teams. It was a successful year no matter if they didn't get to the big dance or did. 10 wins is huge, just look at Texas. If Texas had 10 wins there wouldn't be any talk of Mack Brown retiring. I think the Ducks cover and may win by 3 or 4 TD's. Texas has nothing to play for. Why play hard for an old dude that won't be there next year. I don't have all the answers but I do know this. Oregon will show up and be honored to play. The ship has been righted and everyone is on the same page.
The team should all be in San Antonio today. Four more days to get ready. Is Mark Helfrich ready? How about Nick Aliotti ready? I was thinking about the Oregon - USC 2012 game. Oregon gave up 51 points but we won because we scored 62 points. We did not have a defense we could count on in 2012 either. I think the team will be ready but we will have to score. Texas will not be a pushover I will not bet against Oregon but it is tempting to take Texas plus 14 points.
Lets hope your assumption is correct. But I see no reason why TX won't try and run the ball on Oregon like AZ and Ost did. While I won't side with Mandel I don't think the Ducks will cover the spread. Looks like a close game with scoring from both sides.
I agree. It's interesting to note that the Ducks decisively beat three teams that beat Texas. Comparative scores don't mean anything, but it does illustrate why Oregon is a decisive favorite.
Ducks are saying all the right things and appear to be taking the game seriously.
The one thing that holds Texas back in that equation is that they really don't have a very strong passing game. They are a team that is easy to make no-dimensional.