Alamo Bowl Champions!

The Ducks end the year with a win at the Alamo Bowl in Helfrich’s rookie season and Aliotti’s final season.

The Ducks closed out 2013 in style, defeating the Texas Longhorns 30-7 in the Alamo Bowl. (Photo: Alisha Jucevic)

By UO student Chelsea Fullmer

Oregon football ended the year just as it started: as bowl game champions. After sending Chip Kelly off with a win at the Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State, Mark Helfrich finished his rookie season as head coach with an Alamo Bowl win against the Texas Longhorns in San Antonio.

The game was also long-time defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti’s final game on the Duck coaching staff, and the defense sent him into retirement on a high note with two pick-six plays only one touchdown conceded.

The Ducks (11-2), who finished the season ranked No. 10 in the BCS and No. 9 in the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, took on the unranked Texas Longhorns in head coach Mack Brown’s final game after 16 seasons in Austin. In a stadium filled with burnt orange, the Oregon fans were vastly outnumbered in what looked like a Texas home game.

Avery Patterson catapulted the Ducks to an early 7-0 lead with a pick-six in the first quarter. Freshman kicker Matt Wogan then stretched the lead to 10 on a 25-yard field goal later in the quarter. Wogan finished the night three-of-four on field goals, including a season-best of 39 yards. Texas quarterback Case McCoy finished the first quarter with a one-yard touchdown run, the only points scored by Texas.

The Ducks suffered a loss when offensive lineman Tyler Johnstone left the game after injuring his right knee in the second quarter. He did not play for the rest of the game, but cheered his teammates on from the sidelines on crutches.

Alamo Bowl Offensive MVP Marcus Mariota (8)
finished with 386 total yards, and will return to
the UO for his redshirt junior season. (Photo:
Alisha Jucevic)

The Ducks went into halftime with a 20-7 lead due to another field goal, and a touchdown pass to Josh Huff. Huff ended his senior season with 104 receptions, and set the single-season records for receiving yards (1,140) and 100-yard games (six), and tied Jeff Maehl’s record of 12 touchdown receptions.

Patterson’s 37-yard pick-six in the first quarter set a UO bowl game record for longest returned interception—a record that stood for three quarters, when junior linebacker Derrick Malone stole the show with a 38-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.  Patterson lost the record, but was named defensive MVP of the Alamo Bowl with nine tackles in addition to his touchdown.

Marcus Mariota was impressive, coming back from a rough November where he dropped out of the Heisman race due in part to two losses suffered while he dealt with a strained knee. He finished the night with 386 total yards and the offensive MVP award, and was the leading rusher for the Ducks with 133 yards on 15 carries, looking fresh on a healthy knee.

Twelve of the Ducks’ 30 points came from defensive touchdowns, meaning Aliotti’s defensive troops outscored their opponents in his final game as defensive coordinator.

The Ducks finished in the top 10 in all of the final major polls, and are also the only team to finish No. 9 or better in the final AP Top 25 each of the last four years. In addition to being the highest-ranked Pac-12 team in the AP and Coaches polls, the UO was also the only Pac-12 team to boast a 1,000-yard rusher (Byron Marshall) and 1,000-yard receiver (Huff).

With the return of key players such as Mariota, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and Hroniss Grasu, the Ducks will use spring ball to prepare for the next season, before beginning a 2014 campaign that includes visits to Autzen Stadium by both of the last two Rose Bowl champions in Michigan State and Stanford.

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