Two one-time contenders for the College Football Playoff meet Wednesday as No. 14 Oregon and No. 16 Oklahoma spar in San Antonio, Texas, for the Alamo Bowl. Both the Sooners and Ducks lost two critical games down the stretch to fall out of the playoff race late in the season, but the Alamo Bowl still features two of the most talented teams in the nation.
The Alamo Bowl press conference featured one of the more bizarre scenes in recent memory as then-Oregon coach Mario Cristobal failed to take questions from the media just hours before accepting the Miami job. On the OU side, Bob Stoops took part in the availability as the Sooners tried to pick up the pieces of a bizarre coaching search after Lincoln Riley left for USC.
Oregon will be without a number of key players as defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux, receiver Devon Williams and cornerback Mykael Wright all declared for the NFL Draft. Cornerback DJ James and rotation defensive tackle Jayson Jones entered the transfer portal. Oklahoma lost three defensive starters of its own to the NFL Draft: linebacker Nik Bonitto, defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey and linebacker Brian Asamoah.
Oklahoma vs. Oregon: Need to know
Coaching turnover: The Alamo Bowl features two programs which are not used to losing coaches. However, Riley and Cristobal both opted to leave playoff-caliber gigs for greener pastures. Legendary Sooners coach Bob Stoops will be taking the reins on the OU sideline, while passing game coordinator Bryan McClendon gets the temporary job for Oregon. There’s no telling how the coaching situation will shape the game. Defensive masterminds Brent Venables and Dan Lanning are set to take over Oklahoma and Oregon, respectively, beginning next season.
QB mismatch: Oklahoma starter Caleb Williams ranked as the No. 2 quarterback in the nation out of high school, and No. 1 before Quinn Ewers reclassified. He has lived up to expectations, throwing for 1,670 yards, 18 touchdowns and only four interceptions while adding 408 yards and six scores on the ground. Quarterback was a consistent issue for Oregon as Anthony Brown threw for 2,683 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions as the full-time starter. In the Pac-12 title game, he was awful with a pair of interceptions and just 147 yards passing. If Williams wins the battle, Oklahoma will likely run away with the game.
Running back battle: With several key receivers either out to the NFL or the transfer portal, Oklahoma and Oregon’s elite running games take center stage. Travis Dye took control of the Ducks’ running back room after C.J. Verdell’s injury and rushed for 1,118 yards and 15 touchdowns in relief. Kennedy Brooks put together his third 1,000-yard campaign after an opt-out season to provide a consistent offensive presence in a dysfunctional year. Especially with Thibodeaux and Winfrey out, the running backs should have plenty of creases.
How to watch Alamo Bowl live
Game: Alamo Bowl
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 29 | Time: 9:15 p.m. ET
Location: Alamo Dome — San Antonio, Texas
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Alamo Bowl prediction, picks
Oklahoma will have major advantages with multiple staff members staying behind and the ever-motivated Stoops at the helm. It’s hard to anticipate Oregon’s headspace for this game, especially after losing talented pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux to the NFL Draft. The motivation edge could decide the game. Prediction: Oklahoma (-4.5)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,600 in profit over the past five-plus seasons — and find out.