#15 Oregon v. #11 TCU
Alamodome — San Antonio, TX
January 2, 2016 — 6:45 pm Eastern (ESPN)
Why You Should Watch
Despite being one of the newer bowls on the docket, the Alamo Bowl is the fifth-highest paying bowl game outside of the New Year’s Six contests. Immediately the game became a staple for major-conference teams to take a Texas sojourn to cap their seasons, with the game being played annually in San Antonio since the opening of the Alamodome in 1993. Originally designed to provide an automatic berth for the Southwest Conference, the Alamo Bowl now serves as the top bowl game outside the College Football Playoff-affiliated games for teams from the Big 12 and Pac-12. After this, only one more bowl game awaits to conclude your first Saturday of 2016 and your last Saturday of the season. It is also one of just five bowl games this year to pit top-15 teams against one another, so sit back and watch the fireworks fly from the Lone Star State.
What Each Team Brings to the Table
The post-Mariota era in Eugene started roughly, with the Ducks losing three of their first six games as graduate transfer quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. dealt with the effects of a broken thumb. Once he healed, Adams showed why Oregon brought him in for the year, topping the national charts in passing efficiency and guiding the Ducks to six straight wins. Royce Freeman was fourth in the country in rushing yards per game, while the offense once again ranked in the top six nationally in points and yards per game. And once again, the defense was nowhere near the same level as Oregon’s Blur offense, ranking in the bottom 15 in FBS in points and yards conceded. Charles Nelson was a huge weapon as both return units ranked in the top 20 in the country. If one of the most penalized teams in the country can limit the number of flags it sees, the Ducks should have no problem lighting up the scoreboard.
TCU Horned Frogs
After being snubbed last year from the playoff field, TCU looked loaded to turn around and force the committee’s hand this year. Then the games actually began to be played, and the Horned Frogs looked like a shell of last year’s team. Trevone Boykin was injured at times, though the offense kept rolling to finish the year as a top-10 unit. Where TCU fell off the furthest was on defense. Once the defining unit of Gary Patterson’s teams, TCU allowed over a touchdown more per game this season as the defense struggled through injuries and suspensions. They are still far better than Oregon when opponents have the ball, and they did manage to hold teams like Baylor and Oklahoma below their season scoring averages. They will need to keep drives going, because the combination of their mediocre punt return unit and Oregon’s return prowess could prove detrimental.
What is Likely to Happen
Few scoreboards are likely to get more of a workout this bowl season than the one at the Alamo Bowl, as Adams and Boykin make their respective offenses fly up and down the Alamodome track.This contest is basically a pick ’em in Vegas, with the over/under set at 78.5 points. There might be more than 50 combined points before halftime, and this contest could threaten the century mark before all is said and done. Take the over and watch the sparks fly. Royce Freeman should have a field day against TCU’s undermanned defensive line, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a late turnover skew the game decisively in Oregon’s favor. By the end of this one, the Ducks should end up with their second Alamo Bowl victory in the past three years and their eighth straight season with 10 or more victories.
Oregon 55, TCU 45
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