Existential Crisis, Part 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

Hello, football fanatics! Here we are, on the eve of the Alamo Bowl. And you’re wondering what in the world took me so long to post about it. I was building up the anticipation! No? OK, how about this: I’ve been tirelessly researching every aspect of the game to bring you quality information. Not buying that one either? Fine. Here’s the actual story: In the last two months, I’ve moved my office and my house. Things are a bit hectic. I’ve also been searching for inspiration about this bowl game. Unfortunately, I can’t find much. Since we’re all here together now, let’s hold hands and dive on in.

First, I have to at least acknowledge the churn over at the 40 Acres around the coaching change. I followed all the haps just like everyone else—wondering what in the world was actually going on. I promise to cover the coaching situation as things develop. I respect Coach Brown and all his accomplishments. He brought a national championship back to Austin, and I will always remember that. There were some weird things going on around the announcement, though. Leaks, hissy fits, rumors, denials, admissions. And holy moly, all that commotion around Nick Saban. Look, I know he’s a good coach. But I had doubts he’d be a good fit at Texas. The most entertaining bit was trolling the sports sites for comments by die-hard Bammers, whose heads were on the verge of popping off. No way would Saban leave Alabama! Except, Cletus, he would. He was going to. He may still. Contracts were made to be broken. Coaching is a job. Saban didn’t swear a blood oath or go through a secret rite, binding him to the school for all time. He didn’t go through an initiation ceremony where he had to be ritually beaten by the assistant coaches until he swore fealty to the university. Nope. It’s a job. People leave jobs all the time for other jobs. So, the jury is still out on the whole coaching thing. I’m hoping for an NFL hire. Would at least be interesting, yes?

Back to the bowl game! I want to remind you, heading into tomorrow, that I encouraged you all season to check out the Ducks. Now you have no choice, but if you watched any of their games, you should not be surprised at how things turn out. Oregon is like Baylor on steroids. Yes, I live in Duck Central. I’ve declared them my #2 team, and I do like them. But the bowl game is different. I am a Texan. I graduated from UT. I bleed burnt orange, and I am absolutely devoted to the Longhorns. That doesn’t mean I should be unrealistic about their chances.

Vegas odds have the Ducks by two touchdowns. Of course, the game depends on many factors. If Texas pulls out a win, for Coach Brown and his legacy, it will be because of all those lovely intangibles I like to talk about. Basically home field advantage. Crowd on their side. Playing their hearts out for a coach who’s retiring. On paper, Oregon is a far superior team. Texas continues to be plagued by injuries, insubordination, and academic problems. Daje Johnson is again out of the game. You are well aware of the strain on the depth chart due to injuries. You saw what happened in the Baylor game. The Texas offense couldn’t keep up, although props must be given to the defense. And I expect another good defensive performance against Oregon.

My friends here in Eugene, Duck fans almost to a person, have been super gracious about the bowl game. No one is teasing or taunting me. No one smashed my car windows. When people approach me about Texas football, it’s generally to ask about the coaching situation. No one wants to talk about the bowl. They’re nervous! Seriously, honestly nervous about the game! At the beginning of this season, Oregon had national championship visions dancing in their heads. They had their sights set on a showdown with Alabama to settle that score once and for all. And then, disappointment set in. Another loss to Stanford, plus a road loss to Arizona. The Ducks lost their spark. They barely beat rival Oregon State in the last game of the regular season. So they’re worried. Which team will show up? The one that hangs 60+ points on opponents, or the one that could barely contain a far inferior Beavers squad?

I predict the Ducks will come to win. Texas is fertile recruiting ground, and they’re getting a window into those student athletes who might not know about Oregon football. They, too, have a retiring coach—longtime defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. They’re relegated to a non-BCS bowl, against an unranked team. If they’re not mad, they should be. And if they show up mad and play with a chip on their shoulder, it could get ugly fast. If it gets painful, try to step back and just appreciate seeing Marcus Mariota execute flawlessly. Or De’Anthony Thomas running down the field like an antelope.

Of course, the Texas team that shows up could be the same squad who shamed the Sooners. By the way, who thinks Chokelahoma will beat Alabama? No one? Should be a bloodbath. Anyway, it’s entirely possible Texas will funnel all their angst into the best game they’ve played all season. I would like nothing better than to see a spirited contest between two quality teams. While I do believe Oregon will prevail, I have been surprised before. I’ll go ahead and commit to more unicorns and rainbows if Texas walks away with a victory.

These boys have played hard all season and faced some difficult twists and turns. They had a winning season. Nothing can take away from that. So now, and forever more, Hook ‘em Horns! Beat the Ducks! See you after the game!

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