No game of this bowl season has seen its prognosis flip quite as dramatically as the Valero Alamo Bowl between No. 11 TCU and No. 15 Oregon has in the past few days.
But there still are a lot of reasons to tune in Saturday night (6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN) when the Ducks and Horned Frogs square off. Here are three:
1. There will be plenty of points scored: The arrest and suspension of TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin on Thursday certainly blew up all expectations for this game. It’s a devastating setback for TCU’s offense, and the team has had only 48 hours to prepare their backup (most likely senior Bram Kohlhausen) for a test against a top-15 foe.
But Boykin’s absence shouldn’t mean this game will turn into a snoozer. Kohlhausen stepped in and nearly led TCU to a last-minute upset of eventual Big 12 champ Oklahoma on the road this season. He knows how to run the show, and even with Josh Doctson unavailable, the Frogs have a few weapons who can beat an inconsistent Oregon secondary.
They also have running back Aaron Green, who is playing his final career game in his hometown. We’ll see a lot of Green on Saturday, and we still might witness a high-scoring shootout in the Alamodome. Yes, the Ducks are big favorites with Boykin out of the picture, but there will still be points.
2. Watch the Lubick-Adams pairing: Oregon coach Mark Helfrich could have turned the Alamo Bowl into Matt Lubick’s audition for the team's vacant offensive coordinator job. But why wait? Helfrich officially handed the keys to the Ducks’ offense to Lubick on Friday morning, when he promoted him to coordinator for Saturday night and beyond.
That job has been very good to the past few guys who have held it -- Chip Kelly, then Helfrich, then new UCF head coach Scott Frost -- but this particular game will give us a fascinating first impression of Lubick as a playcaller.
The Frogs should be worried about Vernon Adams Jr., who is coming in hot. Over his past six starts, Adams has averaged 310.8 passing yards per game and thrown for 21 scores with just four interceptions. He ranks No. 4 in QBR nationally in that span. How will Lubick find ways to help him flourish, and what tricks might his players have up their sleeves?
3. Gary Patterson’s D put to test: Patterson admitted Friday that facing Oregon was not exactly at the top of his Christmas wish list. But it’s one heck of a test for a TCU defense that should be a little healthier and well-prepped for the Ducks’ up-tempo attack.
You could argue this was Patterson’s most impressive year of coaching, considering the incredible number of injuries his defense endured over the course of the season. In all, 22 players earned starts for TCU’s defense, and only three of them managed to start every game. A month of bowl practice must have been valuable in establishing more continuity.
They slowed Baylor in their most recent outing (albeit in some truly awful weather), and they’ll go in with a strong plan Saturday night. Also, don’t forget last year’s Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl, when Patterson cracked the code to Ole Miss’ offensive tendencies, and the result was a 42-3 beatdown.