Dane Miller’s 2021 Alamo Bowl Preview

Posted on December 28, 2021

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

Cancellations have marred Bowl Season over the past few days, but the Alamo Bowl matchup between Oregon and Oklahoma remains on track to be played.

The game presents an opportunity for Anthony Brown to end his UO career on a positive note, and for the Pac-12 to post a victory over the Big 12.

I preview the game here, and the picks of our football writers appear at the bottom.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12No. 14 Oregon v. No. 16 Oklahoma

Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
Wednesday, December 29
6:15 pm PT, ESPN

Opt-outs and COVID protocols have muddied the waters of player availability for the 29th rendition of the Alamo Bowl.

Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux and Devon Williams won’t play in San Antonio, neither will Oklahoma linebacker Nik Bonitto and defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey.

Starting UO cornerback DJ James and OU’s second-leading receiver Jadon Haselwood have entered the transfer portal and won’t make the trip, same with Sooner tight end Austin Stogner.

And with the rise of the Omicron variant, it’s anyone’s guess which additional players are unavailable due to protocols.

The turmoil among the rosters pale in comparison, though, to the changes among the staffs. Lincoln Riley has jetted for USC and Mario Cristobal is off to Miami, taking several coaches along with them.

Interim OU coach Bob Stoops in 2015 | Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire

Bob Stoops has been brought in to lead the Sooners while UO wide receiver coach Bryan McClendon has been promoted to interim head coach.

The Ducks’ offensive and defensive coordinators have accepted roles at other schools but are sticking around to coach in the Alamo Bowl.

It’s an odd set of circumstances that makes this matchup one of the more unpredictable of the Bowl Season.

Anthony Brown should play with motivation that is unmatched in his career, and Travis Dye should come out firing. But this might be a game where Byron Cardwell explodes on the national stage.

Oregon’s Byron Cardwell | Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The freshman backup running back is averaging 7.3 yards per carry and could be primed for a strong night against the Sooners’ depleted front seven.

The motivation factor at the Alamodome figures to favor the Ducks, who could come out with something to prove after losing handedly to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Contrasted with Oklahoma, the Sooners unexpectedly lost their head coach and stumbled at the end of Big 12 play.

Still, Oregon must find a way to slow down Oklahoma’s offense. The Sooners put up 38.4 points per game, the 10th-highest in the nation. The Ducks haven’t faced an offense of this caliber since Ohio State.

Getting off the field on third down and winning the battle along the offensive line figures to be the keys to an Oregon win.

Oregon’s Noah Sewell | Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The Sooners convert 42.2 percent of their third down attempts, compared to 51.2 percent for the Ducks. And Oregon posts 203.2 rushing yards per game, compared to 176.0 for Oklahoma.

Coming up with pivotal stops and moving the football on the ground should be enough to topple the Sooners.

A victory would boost the Pac-12’s perception as the Rose Bowl slowly approaches, and would energize Oregon’s recruiting heading into 2022 and beyond.

And at the end of the year, if the Ducks can say they beat Ohio State and Oklahoma, it would turn the season from a disappointment into a momentum-builder to start the Dan Lanning Era.

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Up Next

Dec 30, Las Vegas Bowl: ASU vs. Wisconsin
Dec 31, Sun Bowl: Washington State vs. Central Michigan
Jan 1, Rose Bowl: Utah vs. Ohio State

—More from Dane Miller—