Texas entered the 2012 season as a dark horse of sorts to bring home a Big 12 championship. Suffice to say that didn’t exactly pan out. It’s been three years since a Texas team won the Big 12 and played in a BCS bowl, and with the Longhorns sitting at 8-4 heading into tonight’s Alamo Bowl against Oregon State, there was a question of when — if? — Mack Brown was going to get his team back on top of the Big 12.
It could very well happen in 2013.
The Longhorns needed a fourth quarter rally, but were able to top No. 15 Oregon State 31-27. Quarterback David Ash went from fumbling a pump fake in the first half (hilarious GIF here, y’all) to tossing two touchdown scores in the fourth quarter. It was quite the turnaround. Then again, Ash’s story this year has been that he’s a Jekyll and Hyde. When Ash is good, he’s damn good. When he’s bad, well, he fumbles a pump fake. The growth for Ash going forward is finding more consistency to go along with the promise he continues to display in spurts.
But it was Texas’ defense that made the game-changing plays when it mattered most. The Longhorns’ D under Manny Diaz has been a punchline for missed tackles and points allowed, but they had an Alamo Bowl record 10 sacks against the Beavers. Alex Okafor had nine tackles, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble by himself. The irony is that Texas’ defense played the single best half of football it had all season while officially becoming the worst defense statistically in the history of the program.
While Texas’ defensive line deserves credit, Oregon State also all but completely abandoned the run game in the fourth quarter despite the fact that running back Storm Woods had 120 yards on the ground. Taking away the 10 sacks (for -81 yards) on a visibly injured Cody Vaz, the Beavers had 184 yards rushing. It made little sense.
Still, what a good year for Mike Riley‘s team after back-to-back disappointing seasons. There will be questions in the offseason, namely the quarterback competition between Vaz and Sean Mannion. Both saw playing time this year.
As for Texas, the win makes the offseason more manageable. But 2013 is going to be an important year from Brown and Texas no matter how you dissect it.