Oregon vs Texas
The Valero Alamo Bowl should have a big-game feel when the Oregon Ducks (9-3, 7-5 ATS) square off against the Texas Christian Horned Frogs (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS) in San Antonio, Tex. These two teams entered the season with national championship aspirations and would like to finish up on a high note.
— Oregon had their playoff hopes dashed in a 62-20 shellacking in Eugene back on Sept. 26, and then a double-overtime loss against Washington State Oct. 10 helped put the nail in their coffin for an appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game. However, instead of roll over and die, the Ducks regrouped and rattled off six consecutive wins to end the regular season, going 5-1 ATS during the impressive stretch. That included a 38-36 win on The Farm against Stanford, as well as a 48-28 dismantling of a good Southern California team Nov. 21.
— Texas Christian did not taste defeat until Nov. 7 when they paid a visit to Stillwater and promptly went on to get steamrolled 49-29 by Oklahoma State. They followed that up by looking listless in a 23-17 victory against winless Kansas before a heartbreaking 30-29 loss at Oklahoma Nov. 14. The Horned Frogs wonder what could have been if they won that Oklahoma game, as they topped Baylor in overtime in the rain by a 28-21 score.
— The Ducks really impressed this season with a 5-0 ATS mark in games away from Autzen Stadium. They’re also 5-1 ATS in their past six neutral-site games, and 21-5 ATS in their past 26 games played on a grass surface. In addition, Oregon is 5-2 ATS in their past seven bowl games and 34-16-1 ATS in their past 51 against a team with an overall winning record.
— The Frogs are just 1-5 ATS in their past six bowl games, but figure to have the home-field feel with the short jaunt from Fort Worth to San Antonio. TCU is also 15-2 ATS in their past 17 games on grass, and 6-2 ATS in their past eight against non-conference foes. They’re also 19-8 ATS in their past 27 games overall, and 11-4 ATS in their past 15 against teams with an overall winning record.
— Oregon wasn’t the same team when Vernon Adams was sidelined due to injury, but when he was 100 percent they were a juggernaut. Adams threw for 2,446 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions while also rushing for a pair of scores. However, running is not his strong suit. Adams will leave that up to Royce Freeman, who rolled for 1,708 yards on 6.6 yards per carry while finding the end zone 14 times on the ground with 325 receiving yards and two more scores. WR Bralon Addison also proved to be a playmaker, jelling nicely with Adams for 775 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. WR Darren Carrington averaged 20.1 yards per snag, totaling 502 yards and five touchdowns. WR Dwayne Stanford was also good for five touchdown grabs.
— TCU was a different offense when WR Josh Doctson (wrist) went down with a wrist injury. He will miss the bowl game, too, joining WR Ty Slanina (collarbone) and WR Preston Miller (suspension) on the sidelines in street clothes. QB Trevone Boykin was the heart and soul of this offense, but he is suspended for the Alamo Bowl after being arrested outside of a San Antonio bar. He was charged with assault on a public servant and he might face charges for resisting arrest and public intoxication. Not good, and not what TCU needs in a game against a fellow high-octane offense.
— The Horned Frogs will rely heavily on the run game led by RB Aaron Green, who posted 1,171 yards on 5.3 yards per tote while finding the end zone 10 times. They’ll miss the dual-threat option of Boykin, though, who had 3,574 passing yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while also running for 612 yards and nine scores, both of the latter were second on the team. QBs Bram Kohlkausen and Foster Sawyer are likely each going to get a look in this game, with perhaps the hot hand seeing more reps. with Doctson and his 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns on the sidelines, WR Kolby Listenbee is the biggest playmaker. He had 598 yards and five touchdowns, while WR KaVontae Turpin checked in with 584 yards and eight scores. RB Shaun Dixon is also a threat in the pass game, posting 430 yards on 11.3 yards per reception.
— Oregon entered last season’s College Football National Championship Game against Ohio State on a four-game bowl win streak, including a 30-7 win over Texas Dec. 30, 2013, in their last appearances in the Alamo Bowl.
West Virginia vs Arizona State
West Virginia (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) will face off against Arizona State (6-6 SU, 5-7 ATS) in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl in the final bowl game before Alabama and Clemson do battle Monday, Jan. 11, for the whole ball of wax. Yep, the Cactus Bowl is the penultimate bowl game after a long postseason full of games.
— The Mountaineers were up and down this season, but they basically beat the teams they were expected to beat and lost when they were supposed to lose. They had a four-game losing streak from Oct. 3-29, running the Big 12 gauntlet of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU, all playoff hopefuls until November. On Nov. 7 West Virginia kicked off a four-game winning streak, covering three in a row from Nov. 14-28 before a setback in the season finale at Kansas State by one point back on Dec. 5. The Mountaineers are just 1-4 ATS in their past five games away from Morgantown.
— The Sun Devils were picked by many experts to not only make noise in the Pac-12, but also to compete for a spot in the four-team playoff. A 38-17 spanking in a neutral-site game against Texas A&M in the opener, as well as a 42-14 beatdown from USC on Sept. 26 put those aspirations to rest before the calendar even turned to October. Arizona State was rather erratic this season, posting an impressive 38-23 win at UCLA Oct. 3, but also suffering four of their six losses by more than two touchdowns. AZ State was able to wrap up the season with a three-game cover streak, including a 1-1 SU/2-0 ATS mark against bowl teams. Overall against bowl teams the Sun Devils were 3-6 SU and a dismal 2-7 ATS this season.
— The Sun Devils received tremendous production from Mike Bercovici as an injury-replacement last season, but he was as erratic as the team was overall. He completed 60.3 percent of his pass attempts for 3,436 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions while also punching in six running scores, second on the team. RB Demario Richard rolled for 1,056 yards and seven touchdowns, while RB Kalen Ballage managed 627 yards, 5.5 yards per tote and four touchdowns. In the receiving game the danger player for WVU’s defense is WR Devin Lucien. He erupted for 16.3 yards per catch with seven touchdowns and a team-high 930 yards. WR Tim White had six receiving scores, while former RB D.J. Foster moved to WR and managed 544 yards in 54 grabs with three touchdowns.
— West Virginia is just 1-5 ATS in their past six bowl games, and they’re 1-4 ATS in their past five neutral-site battles, too. However, they’re 5-2 ATS in the past seven non-conference tilts. Arizona State has also struggled against the number, posting a 1-6 ATS mark in their past seven bowl games while posting a 0-4 ATS mark in their past four neutral-site games and 0-4 ATS in their past four non-conference tilts.
— The Mountaineers rattled off bowl wins in four straight from Jan. 2006 to Dec. 2008, but they’re just 1-4 SU over their past five postseason appearances. They’re 1-2 all-time in three bowl games in the state of Arizona.
— For AZ State, they also have struggled when they go bowling. While they won 36-31 in the Sun Bowl last season against Duke, they’re just 4-7 in their past 11 bowl games dating back to 1997. The Sun Devils are an impressive 6-1 in bowl games in the state of Arizona.
— The ‘under’ is an impressive 17-4 in the past 21 games for West Virginia, and 9-3 in their past 12 non-conference games. However, the ‘over’ has cashed in seven of their past 10 bowl games.
— For AZ State, the ‘over’ is 4-1 in their past five bowl games. The over is also 5-2 in their past seven games overall, and 6-2 in their past eight neutral-site matchups, too. The over is 5-1 in the past six against a team with a winning record, too.