SAN ANTONIO, Texas – No. 10 Oregon and Texas have been treated as equals here at the site of the Alamo Bowl to be played Monday at a neutral site.
But by kickoff it will become apparent that there will be nothing equal about the environment in the Alamo Bowl.
Not even close.
The Longhorns will be playing a virtual home game against the Ducks who should expect the fans in attendance to be as high as 80 percent pro Texas. Maybe more.
After all, Texas’ campus is about 75 minutes Northeast of San Antonio in Austin.
In other words this game's feel will be no different than any road game the Ducks have played this season other than the fact that one end zone will read “Oregon” and be painted green and gold.
These facts raise the level of difficulty for the Ducks who will face an 8-4 team looking to send legendary coach Mack Brown out in style and to not be embarrassed in front of family and friends in their state where football is king.
But fret not will these Ducks. In fact, some say they relish the challenge that will come when the partisan crowd begins cheering for Texas inside the Alamo Dome.
“You know it’s going to be loud, you know it’s going to be rocking,” Oregon running back Byron Marshall said. “There’s going to be a lot of hostility in there. It makes it fun. You make a play and everyone just goes quiet and has that star-struck look on their face. We’re hoping to see a lot of those in the stands at the end of the game.”
Oregon’s last two road games, however, did not go so well. The Ducks lost 26-20 at Stanford and 42-16 at Arizona.
But neither loss could truly be attributed to the hostile environment. The Ducks simply didn’t play well.
“From our standpoint since I’ve been here, Oregon has been a really solid team on the road,” quarterback Marcus Mariota said. “I don’t think we approach this thing any differently in that sense. I think we should be prepared.”
Mariota agreed with Marshall that the negativity from opposing fans fuels the Ducks.
“That kind of gives you an extra motivation,” he said. “Personally I kind of like it a little bit too. You just try your best to silence he crowd a little bit. But at the same time you can’t let that affect us.”
Much has been made about whether or not the Ducks want to be in this bowl given that they had higher expectations of playing the national title game.
Mariota said Saturday that Oregon, which appeared in four consecutive BCS bowl games, in no way looks down at the Alamo Bowl and that motivation won’t be an issue.
“We’re very humbled and very thankful to be here,” he said. “It’s truly a blessing to be here. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way and that’s kind of what happened this year. Not trying to say that this season wasn’t disappointing. But we’re very happy to be here.”