One touchdown. If somebody told Texas senior cornerback Carrington Byndom that before the game, the Longhorns would hold an explosive Oregon offense to just one offensive touchdown, Byndom said he would have been giddy.
"Shoot, I would have told you you were kidding," Byndom said. "Holding a team like this to one touchdown on offense was a good job by us. But we still could have done better."
That's precisely what Texas did, using a bend-but-don't-break approach that gave up yardage in bunches — Oregon had 469 total yards at 6.9 yards per play — but clamped down in the red zone, allowing just one touchdown in the Ducks' four trips there.
"I think we did a good job," Byndom said. "A phenomenal job. Oregon's such a high-powered offense, I think we did our part."
Unfortunately, that was just half of the equation. And behind two pick-six throws from Case McCoy — one 37-yarder to safety Avery Patterson that opened the scoring and a 38-yarder to linebacker Derrick Malone that ended it — the Oregon defense actually outscored the Texas offense 14-7.
"We just done a couple things wrong," McCoy said. "Dropped a couple third down conversations. They played a couple right coverages on the third downs.
"That's basically what happened in the passing game," McCoy said. "We were trying to run the ball, control the clock most of the downs, got some third-down situations, had a couple drops, a couple missed cues, played some bad balls."
Patterson's score came with just more than a minute gone in the game. Facing a third-and-18 created by a holding penalty, McCoy attempted to hit Jaxon Shipley over the middle, with the high pass glancing off Shipley's hands and into Patterson's. The safety had an easy route to the boundary before weaving through traffic for the final 10 yards.
Malone's touchdown also came on a third-and-long and sealed the game. This time, forced to slide around in the pocket, the ball never got to the receiver, with Malone slipping underneath intended target Mike Davis for the interception, then shaking off an attempted tackle from Greg Daniels to find the end zone.
Between those two scores, there was Marcus Mariota. The Ducks quarterback, while obviously not quite 100 percent, rushed 15 times for a game-high 133 yards and completed 18-of-26 passes for 253 yards. Arguably the easiest of those completions, which came just before halftime, resulted in Oregon's lone offensive TD. Having already torn up the Longhorn defense with his legs, Mariota looked like he was trying to run to the outside before dropping a slick shovel pass inside to Josh Huff underneath the pursuit. Huff ran over linebacker Peter Jinkens on his way in for a 16-yard score, which helped put the Ducks up 20-7 at halftime.
It was a big score because, as Mack Brown mentioned afterward, when added with the field goal the Ducks added immediately after the break to go up 23-7, it took the Longhorns out of their gameplan. Texas couldn't keep counting on defensive stops — though they continued to come — and the Longhorns had to largely abandon a running game that had breathed life into its offense the first half.
We were trying to win, not get yards," Mack Brown said.
Running back Malcolm Brown, who was brilliant in rushing for 130 yards on 26 carries, had half of those carries in the first half, and he rushed just eight times for 17 yards in the second half. Meanwhile, the Texas passing game remained stagnant, the result of some missed deep shots from McCoy and some key drops. Even after McCoy, who finished 8-of-17 for 48 yards, was subbed out, freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes didn't fare much better, completing just 1-of-6 throws for eight yards.
One of those incompletions was a big one. Near the end of the third quarter, still trailing by two scores at 23-7, Swoopes uncorked a beautiful deep throw to Davis that the senior receiver couldn't quite pull in. Davis, attempting to make a diving catch, landed at the 27-yard line, meaning had he hauled it in, it would have been a 53-yard gain and could have set Texas up to make things a one-score game.
Instead, it simply represented Texas's last, best chance. The Longhorns punted two plays later, and McCoy's final pick-six came on the 'Horns' next drive.
As a team, Texas had just 236 yards of total offense, with 180 of those yards coming on the ground.
Like Coach Brown said, we needed to try to score points," Malcolm Brown said. "We needed to pass the ball more to the receivers. You can't keep running and try to get yards. You got to put points on the board.
"Oregon's offense was great," Brown said. "Their defense was great, as well. They were stopping us. We just couldn't get going."
The second-biggest crowd in Alamo Bowl history, a pro-Texas gathering of 65,918, took in the game, with a number of those fans chanting "Mack, Mack" as the longtime coach walked off the field for the final time after 16 years as Longhorn boss. Brown won 158 games at Texas, including two conference titles and a BCS National Championship.
But he didn't win at the level he wanted to win at this season, with the injury-prone and adversity-riddled Longhorns finishing 8-5 despite lofty preseason predictions that included a predicted top-five finish by Phil Steele. Brown resigned his position on the day after the team's annual banquet, staying on to coach his final game at the Alamo Bowl, the spot of Texas's ninth-win a year ago, a victory over Oregon State that Brown often referenced as a potential launching spot for big things in 2013.
"I have not," Brown responded when asked if he had any regrets from stepping down. "I think it's best for Texas. It's best for me, it's best for the players. We need to win more than eight games. Last year was nine. I really thought we had a chance to win all the games this year. It didn't work. It's my job to make that work."
"I told them tonight, the only regret I had is we didn't win enough games this year," Brown said. "We didn't win as many games as we had good players.
"I feel like a lot of great players are coming back," Brown said. "New energy, new staff, new ideas will really, really help these kids move forward."
Oregon — Avery Patterson 37 INT return (Matt Wogan kick), 13:52 1Q.
Oregon — Wogan 25 FG, 8:36 1Q.
TEXAS — Case McCoy 1 run (Anthony Fera kick), 1:24 1Q
Oregon — Wogan 32 FG, 12:30 2Q
Oregon — Josh Huff 16 pass from Marcus Mariota (Wogan kick), 0:44 2Q
Oregon — Wogan 39 FG, 13:06 3Q
Oregon — Derrick Malone 38 INT return (Wogan kick), 8:55 4Q