By DWIGHT JAYNES
SAN ANTONIO -- It didn't take long during Wednesday afternoon's Alamo Bowl news conference featuring Oregon State defensive coordinator Mark Banker and some of his players, for someone to ask the "O" question.
You know, the one about living in the shadow of the Oregon Ducks "for the last 10 years," as the local questioner put it.
"Obviously we want to be the best team in the state, as well as the Pac-12," said defensive back Ryan Murphy. "I mean, as far as being in their shadow, me personally, I don't look at it as that."
Later, Banker laughed about the question. "Ten years," he said. "I don't know about that. And I don't know about any real shadow, either."
Fact is, that's the way a whole lot of people see the college football situation in Oregon. It's the Ducks in Eugene with all that bling and then the other guys down the road in Corvallis. I think it's a perception nationally, actually, even more than it is within the state.
"In Oregon, (the Ducks) have their fans and we have ours," Banker said. "Oregon State went about 30 years without a winning season. They got their program going a little quicker than we did."
But really, there's no doubt that a win over the Texas Longhorns Saturday night would mean a lot for the Beavers. Yes, OSU is ranked higher than Texas. Yes, the Beavers are actually favored (by 2 12 points) in the game. But you can't convince the Beavers -- or me -- that they aren't underdogs in the Alamo Bowl.
"It's the way we like it," the Beavers, to a man, say. "We like being the underdog."
If you've watched Texas this season, you might have a problem figuring out why the talented Longhorns went 8-4 during the season, including two loses to end the season. Their talent seems so much better than that record. They've got speed, size and NFL prospects all over the place.
And this game is guaranteed to be a virtual home game for Texas, which hails from just up the road in Austin. Yes, the Beavers are 9-3 with a chance to be just the third OSU team in history to finish with 10 wins.
But it's not going to be easy.
"We respect them but we don't fear them," Banker said. "They're a team that can get to the perimeter with their run game. They are deep at the running back position and have a good offensive line. I mean they can downhill run at you, so they present a pretty good challenge."
Oregon State is going to need to control that Texas speed and it's something the Beavers had a problem with against the Ducks. So much is at stake for Oregon State. OSU recruits in Texas and knocking off the Longhorns in their own backyard would be a huge boost for that and a win here would be a perfect springboard into next season.
But the Beavers have been to six bowls under Riley and won five of them.
"Mike has come up with a good formula for all of us to follow," Banker said. "And I think the players would agree to that. Then it helps not only to prepare but to have a good team. We've been fortunate in the years that we've gone to bowl games and have had success in those games.
"I don't think it's any magic."
A little magic wouldn't hurt Saturday night. A win would get the Beavers their 10th win and go a ways toward increasing their national profile a bit. Four losses or not, this is still TEXAS they're playing.
And oh yes, maybe a win would get them out from under that "shadow" just a little more. !function(d,s,id)var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)0;if(!d.getElementById(id))js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="platform.twitter.comwidgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);(document,"script","twitter-wjs");