Alamo Bowl needs to be Texas Longhorns' first step toward becoming relevant again, winning Big 12 in 2013


With as many twists and turns as the Longhorns’ season took this year, they did what everyone expected them to do before the season began.

With a 5-4 record in conference play, Texas finished third in the Big 12 standings — exactly where it was picked to finish in the preseason poll.

But just like those four losses, that won’t be good enough next year. The Longhorns still haven’t completely bounced back from the 5-7 debacle that was the 2010 season. Losses of any kind to Oklahoma, especially those by more than 40 points, won’t be tolerated. Baffling home losses to 7-5 squads like TCU and West Virginia won’t cut it.

Texas has to win the Big 12 next year.

And a win over Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 will be the first step toward making that happen. The Longhorns have a long history of using bowl victories to
create momentum.

“I’m just excited to go back to a bowl. A couple of years ago we didn’t get to do that,” senior safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “I think we just need to win for those guys next year to create momentum for them and just go out with a bang, go out with a win.”

A 2004 Rose Bowl victory over Michigan preceded a 2005 Rose Bowl triumph over USC in the national title game. Arizona State was no match for Texas in the 2008 Holiday Bowl before the Longhorns beat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl the following year.

Texas will lose only two starters on both offense and defense before next season, and it should have a healthy Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks returning from serious injuries. None of the Longhorns’ five starting offensive linemen this year are seniors. It has to be Big 12 title or bust next season.

Not only will the Longhorns be better in 2013 than they were in 2012, but many of their in-conference competitors should take a step back. Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, Baylor’s Nick Florence, Texas Tech’s Seth Doege and West Virginia’s Geno Smith — four of them among the nation’s top six passers and the other (Klein) a Heisman finalist — are,all seniors.

This year’s Longhorns’ defense, statistically, will go down as one of the worst in program history. But it will only lose two starters — Vaccaro and defensive end Alex Okafor, both All-Big 12 first teamers.

Who Texas’ starting quarterback will be for the Alamo Bowl, much less next year’s season opener against New Mexico State, remains unclear. But the team’s four leading rushers and three leading receivers will come back.

The Longhorns may have had bigger dreams than playing in the Alamo Bowl before the season started. But if they want a better postseason fate next year, something guaranteed by a Big 12 title, a win over the Beavers would go a long way toward making that happen.

Printed on Friday, December 6, 2012 as: Bowl offers Horns redemption