SAN ANTONIO Facts, figures, notes and quotes in the buildup to Saturdays matchup between Oregon State (9-3, No. 13 in the BCS, 14 in USA Today, 15 in Associated Press) and Texas (8-4, No. 23 in the BCS) at the Alamodome ...
Its a business trip for the coaches and players, but plenty of pleasure is mixed in, too.
Any time you get the privilege to play in a bowl game, its not just the business aspect of it, OSU sophomore defensive end Dylan Wynn said. You get to learn a little history about the city. Ive met polite, nice people and eaten some good food. Weve been having a lot of fun.
Oregon State arrived on Dec. 23, and players scattered that night for dinner along the River Walk. Several defensive linemen wound up at County Line, where they chose an all-you-can-eat combo ribs platter.
We went through three giant plates of it, Wynn said. It was great.
There was a Christmas Eve party, with Santa Claus and a mariachi band. Santa handed out Fossil watches to the players. On Christmas Day, the entire travel party had dinner together at a restaurant on the River Walk. It was really neat, OSU coach Mike Riley said.
On Wednesday, players went to SeaWorld after practice and then attended the Spurs-Toronto Raptors game that night. OSU coaches had dinner together with Texas coach Mack Brown and members of his staff.
The only time I can ever remember doing that in the past was when I was at USC and (Trojan coaches) had dinner right at the Rose Bowl with the Northwestern staff, Riley said.
Players were to take a cruise up the San Antonio river to an OSU pep rally Thursday evening. After that was dinner scheduled with both teams at Rudys Barbecue above the River Walk. There will be some entertainment, including a Haka group performing Polynesian dance.
Wynn and freshman center Isaac Seumalo both considered the visit to SeaWorld as the favorite activity I really liked the roller coasters, Seumalo said.
It has been good to have down time to get away from football a little bit, Wynn said. Its cool to be able to clear your mind. If you think about it too much, you go crazy.
Alamo Bowl gifts to each of the players included an IPad mini Im thoroughly addicted to mine, Wynn said a Fossil watch and gift cards to Best Buy and Amazon.
Im just glad to be here, Seumalo said. The gifts are just a bonus.
Winning the Alamo Bowl, Seumalo said, is super important. As the week has gone on, Ive begun to realize how important it really is. We have to send these seniors off with a bang, and we need to get things going for next year. Im excited for Saturday.
Texas has been one of the nations premier programs for 70 years. And the Longhorns have won eight of their last 10 bowl appearances, including a 21-10 victory over California in last years Holiday Bowl. Intimidating?
Its an honor to play them, Wynn said. Youre excited to play a team with that prestige. But I wouldnt say its intimidating. if any team is intimidated going into a game, the games over. Were confident in our abilities and Im sure they are, too.
Texas began its program in 1893, the same year as Oregon State. The Longhorns had their first losing season in 1933. Thats a Linfield-like 40 straight non-losing seasons before having one. In 120 years, Texas has had only 13 seasons with losing records.
Texas and Oregon State share a head coach in their history, though nobody is old enough to remember. E.J. Stewart coached at Oregon State from 1913-15. The Beavers went 7-0-2 in 1914 and were 15-5-5 in his three seasons. Stewart coached at Texas from 1923-26, going 8-0-1 the first year and 24-9-3 overall.
Michael Doctor grew up in Tulsa, but he wasnt an Oklahoma fan as a youngster. His team was Texas A&M.
The Aggies had pretty good teams when I was growing up, and I always hated Texas, OSUs junior linebacker said. I still hate them with a passion. My mom, my whole family was always Texas fans, but I never fell into the trend.
Texas A&M offered Doctor a scholarship as a running back. He said he narrowed his choices to Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Oregon State before choosing the Beavers.
When I took my (recruiting) trip to Corvallis, I just felt at home, Doctor said. And I liked the chance to get away (from the Midwest) to go to college. Its been a perfect fit.
Track and field fans will recognize the name of Marquise Goodwin, Texas senior receiver/return specialist. He won the long jump at the Eugene Olympic Trials in June and placed 10th at the London Olympic Games in August.
Eugene is a great place to compete, said Goodwin, who jumped a career-best 27 feet, 4 1/4 inches to win the Trials title and won the 2010 NCAA crown at Eugene with a leap of 26-9. I even competed up there once in high school.
The 5-9, 180-pound Goodwin caught 22 passes for 272 yards and two TDs this season the worst numbers of any of his four years with the Longhorns and returned 13 kickoffs for a 25.2-yard average.
I didnt have quite the stats that I desired, but I tried to do whatever it took to help the team win, he said.
Goodwin said he has run the 40 in 4.24, which helps not only in football but in the long jump.
Speed is very important coming down the runway full throttle, with a lot of explosion behind it, he said. It plays a big role.
Goodwin said he will leave track and field behind, at least temporarily, to focus on pro football.
I plan on playing in the NFL, he said. All I need is the opportunity. I dont know how serious people think I am about playing at the next level, but Im really serious.
Texas pre-bowl practice sessions have been closed to the media and public. Oregon States have been open to everyone, as has been the rule through most of Rileys dozen years at the OSU helm.
I learned that from John Robinson at USC, Riley said. He liked the atmosphere it brings. I enjoy having people come watch our team, whether its at practices or games.
We keep an eye out for somebody who might be filming inappropriately or taking notes. At home, its pretty easy to monitor, and its been good here, too. Its nice that we have people who want to come watch us. I like that.
Former Texas quarterback Major Applewhite began the season as the Longhorns co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach. After co-coordinator Bryan Harsin a one-time Boise State assistant left two weeks ago to accept the head coaching post at Arkansas State, Applewhite took over coaching the QBs and the play-calling duties.
Applewhite, 34, said not to expect many changes with the offense on Saturday.
Ive always felt this game is about players, he said. Put it in the best guys hands and let them make plays. Sometimes we over-think it a bit as coaches.
Harsin and Applewhite are probably more alike than different, he said. We want to maintain possession of the ball. We want to end all drives with a kick ... our primary goal is to protect the football. Then you want to get the ball in the playmakers hands.
Applewhite said Oregon States defense reminds him of Texas Christians.
Not from a schematic standpoint, he said, but I believe (the Beavers) love to play defense (like the Horned Frogs).
They have some big guys up front Castro (Masaniai) is ginormous and they do a great job on the edge in pass rush. They have good linebacker play; they can run well. Their safeties are good. They are in position a lot. I dont see them out of position a whole bunch. You dont see busted coverages. They do a great job of flying to the football. (Jordan) Poyer allows them to do some things in the nickel packages.
But the thing that stands out to me is how hard they play. ... the passion they play with. ... thats the biggest compliment to Coach (Mark) Banker and those guys.
Texas lost to TCU (20-13) and Kansas State 42-24) in its last two games. Thats akin to a major slump in the eyes of Longhorn fans and the local media. At a press conference Wednesday, one of the latter asked Texas guard Mason Walters, Are you afraid the fans are concerned that maybe yall dont want to be here because its not a BCS bowl and you didnt finish strong?
Thats not the case, Walters said. Oregon State is a great opponent and presents a lot of challenges, and were excited to play against (the Beavers).
As far as momentum, theres so much break between the Kansas State game (on Dec. 1) and this game, youre really going to have to make your own edge ... maybe like after a bye week. But with the focus and intensity weve had in practice up to this point, theres no need for concern.