2013 Alamo Bowl Picks: Oregon vs. Texas Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 12/26/2013
The Alamo Bowl is a showdown between two high-profile teams that are not where they imagined being at this time of year. Oregon wanted to be playing in Pasadena instead of San Antonio. Texas didn’t have realistic aspirations of that level, but they didn’t expect to descend into the embarrassing circus that their program has become. In order to handicap this game, then, we need to be less handicappers and more psychologists. Both teams have plenty of excuses that they could use to justify a poor performance. Which team will show up? Will less than full effort matter? Is this a game worth betting on? Let’s take a look.
Alamo Bowl: Oregon vs. Texas Betting Storylines
Is Oregon going to show up? At the beginning of November this team seemed to be on the fast track to the National Championship Game, and Marcus Mariota had all but clinched the Heisman — at least according to futures odds. Since then, though, they lost at Stanford, got crushed by Arizona, and narrowly escaped Oregon State. It has been ugly. The players and coaches insist that they are still as hungry as ever despite the setbacks and that they intend to prove themselves here. Given their distinct lack of focus in their last four games, though, it is hard to entirely trust that. Mariota shocked the college football world by announcing that he intends to return to school next year, so the team knows that they have another shot next year to be competitive and finally reach their national goals. They also know that, all things being equal, they could probably beat this Texas team at less than full effort. This is perhaps the biggest test of Mark Helfrich’s coaching career to date, so your opinion of him and his command of this team factors in to your view of this game in a big way.
Of course, nothing about Oregon compares to the giant elephant in the room named Mack Brown. After far more drama than he deserved despite the descent of his program the last couple of years, Brown ‘chose’ to resign at the end of the season. That means that this is the end of an era is Texas. This could go two ways for the team. They could rally around their departing coach and play their hearts out to send him out on a strong note. Or they could let the drama and uncertainty be the reason they struggle and underperform. I’d feel a lot better about the chances of a strong effort if the new coach had been named or at least if there was an obvious leader for the position. If that was the case then the team would be auditioning for their new coach and looking to impress.
Even if Texas does show up looking for a fight, there is a real question of whether it matters. The most similar team to Oregon that Texas played was Baylor, and the Bears ran all over the Longhorns. Texas and defensive coordinator Greg Robinson had no answers. Oklahoma State plays fast and creative as well, and the Cowboys also rained down the points. BYU isn’t a particularly talented running team, yet they amassed 550 yards against Texas — albeit before Robinson took over from Manny Diaz. Oregon’s strengths are not a good matchup for Brown and Texas, and the Longhorns need to find something to do about that if they want to have a chance.
Texas is a wildly public program. They are the only team with their own TV network right now, and they operate on their own financial level. They are playing in their home state and are getting more than their share of attention these days. Given that, it is striking how convincingly the public has deserted Texas. There are reasons to doubt Oregon, yet three-quarters of bets have come in on Oregon despite the big line. Despite that, the line has barely moved, and it has actually fallen by half a point, so it is clear that the books were aggressive in setting the initial line and that they aren’t too concerned about the imbalanced action. That’s a potential argument for Texas.
Alamo Bowl: Oregon vs. Texas Odds and Betting Trends
The Ducks opened as 14-point favorites. That has fallen slightly to 13.5 in most places, though there is pressure developing for it to move back to 14. The total opened at 67 and has been stable at that level.
Oregon has not covered in their last four games overall but is 4-0 ATS in their last four nonconference games. Texas has gone “over” the total in their last five nonconference games but has gone “under” the total in their last five games against teams with winning records. The teams have not played each other since a 2000 bowl game, when Oregon won 35-30 as seven-point underdogs.
Alamo Bowl Picks: Oregon vs. Texas Predictions
This is a tough game, largely because I think that the spread is pretty close to right and because I don’t have faith in either team at this point. In the end, though, the Longhorns are the play. The end of the Brown era could produce a lift, and the fact that it is happening in the state of Texas should have an impact on the crowd. If Oregon was at full throttle Texas couldn’t stop them, but I don’t have faith in Oregon to show up fully. Most significantly, though, I just don’t like how the line was set. It seems too easy, and everyone is rushing to back Oregon, yet the line isn’t moving. When the books are happy to take bets, I am, more often than not, happy to bet against them.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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