If buzz is lack­ing, will we re­mem­ber Alamo?

Longhorns have to tell them­selves that they’re not play­ing an hour or so away from cam­pus.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - Kirk Bohls Coach Mack Brown and quar­ter­back David Ash will be look­ing for some of the same magic they used to beat Cal 21-10 in last sea­son’s Hol­i­day Bowl. The de­fense dom­i­nated and Ash was named of­fen­sive player of the game with a touch­down pass and touc

SAN

AN­TO­NIO — Ore­gon State is sali­vat­ing over this game.

The Beavers’ prac­tices on the In­car­nate Word cam­pus have been crisp, the level of ex­cite­ment pal­pa­ble.

Other than the na­tional cham­pi­onship game or the Rose Bowl, their head coach, Mike Ri­ley, can’t think of an­other place his 15th-ranked team would rather be.

Ore­gon State clearly wants to be here.

Texas says it does, too, although bowl teams’ success very of­ten fol­lows along the lines of a Real­tor’s mantra. Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion can make all the dif­fer­ence in play­ers’ mind­set, and the 8-4 un­ranked Longhorns have to con­sider this an ex­otic lo­cale in­stead of a site an hour or so away from their home cam­pus.

See­ing is be­liev­ing, and Longhorns fans want to see for them­selves that their fa­vorite team can over­come con­sec­u­tive losses that kept it out of the Cot­ton Bowl and the exit of of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Bryan

ALAMO BOWL Texas vs. Ore­gon State,

5:45 p.m. Satur­day, alam­od­ome, ESPn, 1300, 98.1

Harsin to Arkansas State.

Ap­par­ently, they’re cu­ri­ous enough to show up to see if their team does as well. Texas has sold all but a hun­dred of their al­lot­ment of 12,500 tick­ets. The Alamo folks ex­pect a full house. Ore­gon State sold more than two-thirds of its 9,500 tick­ets, but air­fare from Cor­val­lis, Ore., to San An­to­nio has ranged from $800 to a steep $1,400.

It’s dif­fi­cult to say if Texas’ fan base trusts its er­ratic team to play well or sim­ply is in­trigued with a game against a very un­der­rated Pac-12 team that beat Rose Bowl-bound Wis­con­sin and lost by four on the road to league cham­pion Stan­ford.

“If the fans are con­cerned we don’t want to be here, that’s def­i­nitely not the case,” Texas ju­nior of­fen­sive guard Ma­son Wal­ters said. “With the fo­cus and in­ten­sity we’ve had in prac­tice, there’s no need for con­cern.”

While there may be a no­tice­able lack of buzz — at least in Austin — sur­round­ing this game, ev­ery­thing from the qual­ity of op­po­nent and the his­tor­i­cally com­pet­i­tive Alamo Bowls to Texas’ need for re­demp­tion af­ter a sub­par reg­u­lar sea­son cul­mi­nat­ing in a two-game los­ing streak all sug­gest oth­er­wise.

That had bet­ter be the case be­cause tra­di­tion­ally speak­ing, if the Longhorns aren’t in­ter­ested in the pro­ceed­ings, their play will re­flect it.

At no time other than the 1984 Free­dom Bowl was that more true. Like this one, Texas opened the sea­son with high ex­pec­ta­tions, but that club lost four of its fi­nal five games, none more hu­mil­i­at­ing than a 55-17 blowout at the hands of Hay­den Fry’s Iowa team.

Of course, the next time the Longhorns were to face Iowa, they rec­ti­fied mat­ters by slip­ping past the Hawkeyes 26-24 in this same Alamo Bowl. Red­shirt fresh­man Colt McCoy, a sec­ond-year player like cur­rent Longhorns quar­ter­back David Ash, ral­lied his team from a 21-10 third-quar­ter hole with the help of a 72-yard touch­down pass to Ja­maal Charles to win in 2006. Like this year, Texas was play­ing on the heels of back-to-back losses that sea­son.

“I can imag­ine they’d be a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed coming here,” said Ore­gon State se­nior wide re­ceiver Markus Wheaton, a Dal­las na­tive. “But we can’t take them for granted. They’re still coming to get the job done.”

“Texas is known for its foot­ball,” Beavers line­backer Michael Doc­tor said. “That makes us that much hun­grier.”

The Alamo Bowl is count­ing on a cou­ple of hun­gry teams.

“I know Texas wants to fin­ish strong,” Alamo Bowl ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Rick Hill said. “And when you don’t go to a bowl game for two years like Ore­gon State, they’re fired up. When it comes to bowl games, brand name helps, the Heis­man helps, but this is one (that stands) on merit. If both teams play com­pet­i­tive, peo­ple will tune in.”

View­ers usu­ally do. The Alamo Bowl holds three of the top five rat­ings for the most-watched, nonBCS bowl games in ESPN his­tory.

New play-caller Ma­jor Applewhite does not ex­pect any men­tal hang­over from Texas.

“I don’t think teams are flat; I think play­ers are flat,” said Applewhite, who will be call­ing plays for the first time since he did so for Alabama in 2007. “I think you have in­di­vid­u­als that don’t get them­selves fo­cused and ready to play. Maybe you have four or five of them, and they make two mis­takes apiece, and that’s 10 snaps that you’ve wasted.”

Texas has al­ready wasted enough this sea­son. But Applewhite said he ex­pects the play­ers to play with an edge Satur­day.

“We’re try­ing to find out who loves foot­ball, who doesn’t,” Applewhite said, “and play with the mo­ti­vated ones.”

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