Alamo Bowl president Derrick Fox is confident about two things concerning the December 29 matchup between Oregon State and Texas at the Alamodome.
He believes strongly the 65,000-seat facility will be bursting at the seams with fans from both teams and the color orange, albeit in different shades, will be everywhere.
"There is no doubt there will be more Texas fans in the building because of the proximity," Fox told BeaverBlitz.com this week. "But suffice it to say there will be a lot of orange. Maybe a couple of different shades, but a lot of orange in the building that night. It will be fun as they blend over and intersperse in their sections. Both teams can take credit for filling it up."
With the home state Longhorns appearing in the bowl, the game will assuredly sell out. The three largest crowds in Alamo Bowl history have come when Texas (2006) or Texas A&M (2007, 1999) have played in the game.
The second largest crowd (65,875) in Alamo Bowl history saw Texas nip Iowa, 26-24, in 2006, and the contest attracted a TV rating of 6.0 on ESPN. Only one other game in the bowl's 20-year history has drawn a higher rating: 6.3 for Texas A&M-Michigan in 1995.
So, Oregon State coach Mike Riley and his players should anticipate millions of people watching live both inside the domed stadium and on TV sets throughout the country when the Alamo Bowl kicks off December 29 at 3:45 p.m. PT.
Once Stanford (Rose Bowl) and Oregon (Fiesta) punched their tickets to BCS Bowls, Fox acknowledged the Alamo Bowl had difficulty deciding which Pac-12 team to invite. Both Oregon State and UCLA finished the regular season with 9-3 records, but the Beavers won the head-to-head meeting, 27-20, on September 22 at the Rose Bowl.
"It boiled down to a choice between UCLA and Oregon State," Fox said. "They were two very deserving teams that had great years on all fronts. Oregon State did beat UCLA and they're higher ranked. They won their way into the bowl. They bounced back from the loss to Oregon and beat Nicholls State. UCLA lost a couple of games, including the Pac-12 championship game. That played into it.
"We also looked at strength of schedule and the cross-over games. Oregon State was 4-0 versus the South and UCLA was 1-3 versus the North. Arguably, the North was a little bit stronger this year than the South. Then we looked at the overall matchup. We put together the two highest ranked teams we could to make the most compelling storyline. There were a number of factors that went into it."
Moreover, Fox found irresistible the Beavers' 180-degree reversal from a disappointing 3-9 record in 2011 to an exhilarating 9-3 this season. Oregon State is No. 13 in the latest BCS standings, while Texas is No. 24 after finishing the regular season with a disappointing 8-4 record.
"Even though neither Pac-12 team had been here before, we got the sense that the fan base of Oregon State was more excited from that perspective," Fox said. "One of the things we look at is how well the teams travel. Going from 3-9 to 9-3 and being out of the bowl business for a couple of years speaks volumes about what Coach Riley has done up there and the turnaround. He has a great track record there.
"Being back in the bowl mix and being in the upper echelon of the Pac-12 is a real tribute to the program, the players and the team. Now they get to celebrate the fruits of their efforts with a bowl appearance in San Antonio."
Inviting the Longhorns was an easy decision for the Alamo Bowl's selection committee since Texas is the most visible team in the Lone Star State, so the Alamo Bowl quickly plucked them off the pile when its turn came to select a Big 12 representative.
"We have two Top 25 ranked teams and two programs that have certainly played well," Fox said. "Texas played in the Holiday Bowl last year and had a chance to move up in the bowl selection this year. It's a great matchup."
Oregon State is making their first ever trip to San Antonio, while Texas is playing in the Alamo Bowl for only the second time. The fresh look to the bowl excites Fox, along with the David versus Goliath subplot featuring one of the biggest and wealthiest college football programs in the country and the up-and-coming Beavers.
"I like having new teams in the mix," Fox said. "I think it worked out well from everybody's perspective. It makes for an outstanding storyline. Texas is making their 51st bowl appearance and they have a long lineage of being in bowl games.
"Then you look at the success Coach Riley has had at Oregon State being the winningest coach there. And he's 5-1 in bowl games. So, not only is he getting to bowl games, he's having success in them. It speaks well to how he has managed and built the program."
Fox has been delighted by the initial wave of Oregon State fans contacting the bowl office for information about the trip or looking to purchase tickets.
"It's been great to hear the enthusiasm of the Oregon State fans talking about the opportunity to come down here," Fox said. "Obviously, the Texas fans are familiar with the area because they live here or have been here before. It's always fun to get a new team here and Oregon State certainly fits that bill."
Mike Riley remains a favorite son in San Antonio football circles from his two years as head coach of the San Antonio Riders when they played in the World League of American Football in 1991-92.
The Alamo Bowl was still in its infancy when Riley coached the Riders.
"Coach Riley was a great proponent of ours and he's been here in San Antonio," Fox said. "He can certainly help us sell San Antonio to all the Beaver fans."