This year’s Alamo Bowl, featuring the Oregon Ducks and the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, was predicted to be one of the most entertaining bowl games of the season.
Then Thursday morning happened.
Unless you’ve been in a Christmas dinner- induced coma, you’ve likely heard that TCU starting quarterback and early season Heisman Trophy contender, Trevone Boykin, was arrested and promptly suspended from playing on Saturday. Boykin, allegedly left his hotel room in San Antonio after being checked on by coaches at 12am. He then proceeded to a local bar, where a fight ensued and ended with Boykin apparently assaulting a police officer.
To add insult to injury, one of TCU’s top receivers, Preston Miller, was also suspended along with Boykin. The news of both suspensions came just two days before both teams are set to face off and has undoubtedly put a damper on the highly anticipated match up. For TCU fans, the frustration is obvious. For Oregon fans though, the frustration simply centers on the quest for national respect. If Oregon wins against a Boykin-less TCU team, that respect will surely be diminished. In short, Oregon fans want a win against an opponents’ absolute best. Obviously, that’s not going to happen tomorrow in San Antonio.
So now what?
On the surface, losing a star quarterback two days before a game might seem like a gift to an opponent. It might seem like a good reason to relax a bit. The Ducks aren’t likely to do that. And they shouldn’t.
TCU was just 21 points from being undefeated this year after losing just twice to top ranked teams- Oklahoma State and Oklahoma who, by the way, just played in the CFB National Playoffs. Against Oklahoma, TCU lost by 1 point. Another fun fact? That game was played without Boykin, who had been injured in the previous game. Though two back-up quarterbacks played against Oklahoma, it was Bram Kohlhausen, who is expected to start against Oregon, who led them back from a two touchdown deficit to nearly win the game.
Who is Bram Kohlhausen?
By far, the biggest question on every Ducks fan’s mind is who the heck is Bram Kohlhausen and can he play?
A highly recruited high school star, Bram ended up playing at Houston before later transferring to TCU, where he is now a Senior. Though obviously not the threat Boykin is considered to be, Kohlhausen has been able to hold his own and has had meaningful game-time experience despite backing up an early season Heisman contender. TCU Coaches have also said that their guys prepare as if they are the next man up and the game plan is not going to change in wake of Boykin’s absence.
So yes, there may be a bit of a drop in production, but not enough to consider this an automatic win for Oregon.
What to expect
The Ducks will need to play well in all “phases” as Mark Helfrich likes to say. TCU will be playing without many of its offensive weapons but their depth has been tested all season and somehow they’ve prevailed. How the Ducks’ defense will fare against them is anyone’s guess. This very well might be Don Pellum’s last hurrah in trying to save his Defensive Coordinator gig so look for him to pull out all the stops. One thing that should definitely help is the return of linebacker, Joe Walker, whose absence was clearly felt in this season’s Civil War. In case you are wondering, Joe Walker is my personal X-factor in this match up.
Offensively speaking, quarterback, Vernon Adams, will need to play a clean game. Though TCU’s defense is considered to be depleted in many ways, this is the same defense that has managed to lead the country in interceptions this season. To date, they have snagged the ball 78 times- a stat that should make Oregon fans just a bit nervous, especially given how “brave” Vernon Adams can be at times with the ball. Thus, turnovers could just be the deciding factor in this potential shoot-out. That being said, look for Big Play VA to do his thing. This will be a big moment for him as it will serve as his final live game audition before heading off to NFL Draft. Often overlooked because of his height (perhaps unfairly), he has a lot to prove and he will look to put on a big show.
Where passing the ball could carry some risk for the Ducks, look for the running game to be solid. Royce Freeman and Co. should have no problem having their way tomorrow.
Last but not least, look for the Ducks’ special teams to shine. Between Bralon Addison and Charles Nelson taking back kicks/punts, good things are bound to happen. Am I allowed another X-factor prediction?
The Show must go on. Boykin or no Boykin, this is bound to be a good one.
Follow Nichole on Twitter @UOgridirongirl