Happy Holidays, ‘Horns fans! I hope you’re enjoying some well-deserved time off, roasting your chestnuts, dashing through the snow, lighting candles, airing grievances, having shows of strength—whatever works for you. ‘Tis the season for overeating, annoying your relatives, being annoyed by your relatives…and football! Lots of football. It’s time to gorge on college football, because next comes the long hibernation until spring practice. There are bowl games aplenty. My holiday wish is for you to all cheer against every SEC team that plays. That includes you, Aggies. Sorry! You left. You’re dead to me. I’m surprised we didn’t experience the Mayan Apocalypse, since in the space of a few short days I will be rooting for both the Sooners and Notre Dame. I’m pretty sure that’s what comes right before the flaming skulls with batwings and rivers of blood. Get your affairs in order.
But we’re not here to talk smack about the SEC! Oh wait, yes we are. But also! We are here to talk about Texas football, and the upcoming bowl game against the Oregon State Beavers. Yeah, I know. The Beavers. I’m not making this up. As you’re aware, because you read this blog as if it were a religious text, my #2 team is the Oregon Ducks. Yeah, the Ducks. We like our wildlife in Oregon, OK? It is called The Beaver State, after all, and there is an actual beaver on the state flag. While not as eye-catching as the Lone Star, it doesn’t suck or anything. It does have the distinction of being the only state flag to have different images on the front and back. Look it up. Or take my word for it!
This game is by no means a sure thing for either team. For goodness sakes, this season has just about killed me. The roller coaster! One week I’m burning my Manny Diaz doll in my Easy Bake Oven, the next I’m building it an altar and making offerings. Now we have Brian Harsin jumping ship to coach for ARKANSAS STATE. LOLWUT? Was he really that excited to be a head coach? Or did he feel like his job was on the chopping block? (I’m voting for the second one.) I sure do love me some Major Applewhite. It’s possible I’m still making up bad karma points from insulting his brother accidentally when there was beer involved. But still, how can you not love Major? He has a huge challenge in front of him as he will be calling the plays all by his Opie self for the Alamo Bowl. Honestly, this guy is about as football-wonky as they come. He’s a real student of the game. If anybody can call winning plays for the ‘Horns, it’s Major. I am not being snide when I express respect for him, and I truly believe he will rise to the occasion.
As Texas fans, we have certain expectations, and we’ve discussed those over the course of this season. We expect our favorite team to win. We expect them to beat Oklahoma. We expect to win the conference. We expect not to be embarrassed by TCU on national television. Maybe we should have written our letters to Santa very early this year? Because absolutely none of those things happened. Instead we had a promising start, an absolute waxing at the hands of the Sooners, a resurgence, then the sound of a deflating balloon as the season drew to a close. Ugh. All the talent and money in the world, and we end up 8-4. A winning season, technically, but the struggles on both sides of the ball really show how far the team has to go to regain its former glory. It’s like the 2010 loss to Alabama (WE SHALL NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN) took the spirit out of the team and it’s never come back.
Moving on! Texas will face the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday, December 29. Gametime is 6:45 p.m. Eastern. Adjust accordingly. Oregon State is favored by only two points. The over/under is 57, so someone expects plenty of scoring. Bet wisely, children.
OSU comes in with a 9-3 record, ranked 13th. Like Texas, they cycled through two different QBs this season. Their starter, Sean Mannion, won the first four games then went out with a knee injury. Sophomore Cody Vaz replaced Mannion until he, too, was injured. However, Vaz was named as the starter for the Alamo Bowl. The Beavers have been prolific in the passing attack this season, ranked 15th in passing yards. The top Beaver receiver (it rhymes!) is Markus Wheaton. He is scary good. This season he racked up 88 receptions for 1207 yards, with 11 touchdowns. This is the gentleman the Texas secondary must stop to shut down the OSU offense. As we’re all painfully aware, the entire Texas defense has been plagued this season with a variety of ailments, including “no-tackle-itis” and “he’s-too-fast-for-me” syndrome. They better bring their A Game on Saturday if they have any hope of stopping Wheaton.
The one giant caveat here is that OSU has a one-dimensional offense. They have a good running back in Storm Woods, who has such a great name I could never make that up. He’s a traitor, though, taking his talents on the road from Pflugerville all the way to Corvallis, Oregon. He tallied 171 carries for 822 yards. The Beavers are ranked 101st in rushing, well below Texas, coming in at 49th. Nothing to get too excited about, but still a superior running attack to OSU’s.
And that’s where the glimmer of hope lives. Texas must shut down Wheaton and the passing game. The Beaver running game pretty much doesn’t exist. Take away the passing game, and Texas controls its own destiny. The other side of that coin is Texas’s uneven performance on offense. And yes, I’m being nice. I thought I should tone it down after the Easy Bake Oven comments. Coach Brown reported that David Ash will start the game. I remember like it was 10 years ago writing blogs that started, “Oh, that Ash!” It’s nice to remember those long-ago times. Perhaps we can relive them on Saturday, and Ash will bring his giant macho self to the game and throw for 100,000 yards, and will cause a solar eclipse with his awesomeness. He’s working with a 67.7% completion rate, which is not chopped liver. We know what Ash can do on the field when he’s firing on all cylinders. Let’s cross our hooves that Santa fills his stocking with extra portions of butt-whipping. That makes no sense but work with me here. It’s a family program.
My spirit animal, Jonathan Gray, is the team’s leading rusher with 142 carries for 683 yards and three touchdowns. He does share duties, so he doesn’t quite have the numbers that Woods has. They’re both freshmen, so expect big things in the years to come. I hope he rides into the stadium on Rudolph and runs up and down the field so often we lose count. Is it bad luck to tell you that was on my wish list to Santa? “Magic” Mike Davis is the leading receiver, with 54 receptions for 909 yards. Again, not the same numbers as his Beaver counterpart, but the Texas team undoubtedly has more depth at those positions.
Expect a lively match-up between two teams wearing orange. Only one is the lovely burnt orange shade that warms our hearts, and the other is the color of a traffic cone. You figure that one out.
I appreciate you, Gentle Readers, for taking the time to look at my blog posts with your human eyeballs. It means a lot to me. Even though we’re saying goodbye to the 2012 season, or perhaps good riddance, I will continue writing about whimsical nonsense and occasionally football in the months to come. I might even sneak in a little baseball here and there, but don’t tell anyone.
Here’s wishing you a lovely holiday with family and friends. Overeat! Drink… and embarrass your kids! Sleep all day! Above all, enjoy yourself. All together now: Go Texas! Beat the Beavers! Hook ‘em!