If you were wondering, there’s nothing wrong with the previously injured knee of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.
From the very beginning of the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Oregon ( 11-2 ) showed Texas ( 8-5 ) and the sold out crowd of 65,918 fans, who were significantly partisan Longhorn supporters, just how healthy Mariota was as the redshirt sophomore signal caller ran for game high 133 yards and was selected as the games MVP.
At the outset, Mariota showed his command of the offense and speed which early in the season made him the odds on favorite to run away with the 2013 Heisman Trophy.
At least until he was injured in the UCLA game in late October.
Monday evening, Mariota simply ran away from the Longhorns and their two sack masters, Cedric Reed and Jackson Jeffcoat, who didn’t have an answer for Mariota and the Ducks speed.
“We played a really good football team” said Texas coach Mack Brown after the game.
“I thought that quarterback looked like one I saw play for us a while back” referencing Longhorn QB Vince Young.
On a night when long time defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti was calling it a career, it seemed fitting his defense was the real star of the game.
Just 1:08 into the game, safety Avery Patterson grabbed a tipped pass from Longhorn quarterback Case McCoy and raced 37 yards for the games opening score. It was Patterson’s 3rd interception of the season and the 12th pick for McCoy.
“I was just following his eyes” explained Patterson when asked about his pick six.
“I told Ifo, I got it. We kind of sandwiched him together and I was able to get lucky and get a pick.”
The Ducks would go on to score 13 additional points in the first half – 6 points on two Matt Wogan field goals, and a 16 yard shovel pass and score from Mariota to Huff with just :44 seconds remaining before the break.
In the second half, the Ducks showed they could move the ball, however they struggled finishing drives much like they did in the final month of the season.
It was Aliotti’s defense that once again took center stage.
With 8:55 remaining in the game and leading the Longhorns 23-7, Oregon linebacker Derrick Malone dropped into coverage and intercepted another McCoy pass which he ran 38 yards into the end zone giving the Ducks their final margin of victory.
GAME CHANGING MOMENT
Late in the first half and leading by just 6 points, the Oregon defense held Texas at mid field forcing the Longhorns to punt the football away.
Oregon started the drive at their own 12 yard line at the 2:08 mark and put together an 88 yard scoring drive to extend the Ducks lead to 20-7.
The 16 yard score, a shovel pass from Mariota to Josh Huff, opened the lead to 13 points and took the air out of Texas and the partisan Alamo Dome crowd.
BY THE NUMBERS
* Oregon finishes the season with an 11-2 record and fourth consecutive season with 11 or more wins.
* Marcus Mariota was 18 of 26 for 253 yards and 1 touchdown. Mariota also rushed for a game high 133 yards.
* Marcus Mariota is now Oregon’s all time leading rusher for a quarterback with 1,467 yards surpassing Jeremiah Masoli who had 1,386 yards. Mariota also became the first Oregon quarterback to surpass the 4,000 yard mark in total offense with his effort of 387 total yards in the Alamo Bowl.
* With his TD pass to Huff Monday night, Mariota has now thrown a touchdown pass in every game ( 26 ) of his Oregon career.
* Oregon wide receiver and Texas native Josh Huff ended his Duck career with 5 catches for 104 yards and 1 touchdown. Huff set a single season school record for receiving yards with 1,140.
* With 11 wins, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich becomes the football program’s winningest first year head coach in school history.
* The Oregon defense held the Longhorns to just 56 passing yards. Case McCoy was just 8 of 17 with 2 interceptions.
* In 16 years as the head coach of Texas, Mack Brown had a record of 159-47.
* Monday nights attendance of 65,981 is the second highest mark in Alamo Bowl history.