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SAN ANTONIO — Quarterback Marcus Mariota had 386 total yards and No. 10 Oregon returned two interceptions for touchdowns, spoiling Texas coach Mack Brown’s farewell with a runaway 30-7 victory in the Alamo Bowl on Monday night.
The BCS-snubbed Ducks (11-2) dominated throughout even though their famously high-powered offense scored just one touchdown, when Josh Huff turned a short pass from Mariota into a spectacular 16-yard sprint to the end zone.
Brown received warm goodbyes from a sellout crowd in what was practically a home game for Texas (8-5). Even the school marching band spelled his name at halftime.
But the blowout was a final reminder of why Brown is resigning after 16 seasons at Texas, which he led to a national championship in 2005 but couldn’t reverse a sharp decline in recent years.
Walking off the field for the last time, Brown flashed the “Hook ‘em Horns” hand signal to the scattered remaining Texas fans who stuck around to the end of another humbling loss this season.
Mariota led all rushers with 133 yards on 15 carries, making sure Oregon eased the sting of not playing in a BCS bowl for the first time in five years. He was 18 of 26 for 253 yards passing in his Heisman Trophy campaign tuneup for 2014, having announced earlier this month that he was coming back for his junior season.
Yet even Mariota was outscored by Oregon’s defense — and so was Texas, for that matter.
Oregon’s first touchdown came on the third play of the game when safety Avery Patterson intercepted an overthrown pass by Texas quarterback Case McCoy and returned it 37 yards to the end zone. McCoy later bookended a dismal performance in his final game with another pick-six, this one returned 38 yards by linebacker Derrick Malone that sent waves of burnt orange-clad fans streaming for the exits.
McCoy scored on a 1-yard rush in the first quarter for Texas’ only touchdown. He finished 8 of 17 for 48 yards and was pulled at times in the second half for freshman Tyrone Swoopes.
Running back Malcolm Brown was the lone offensive constant for Texas, finishing with 130 yards on 26 carries.
Far from the uplifting send-off Texas wanted for Brown, the school now shifts its focus to finding a replacement. New Texas athletic director Steve Patterson said before kickoff that he wants a successor by Jan. 15.
Patterson said coaches interested in the job have come forward but wouldn’t discuss potential candidates.
“There’s interest that’s sincere, and there’s interest that’s ‘Help me find a better contract,’” Patterson said.
Whoever Texas hires shouldn’t expect patience from a fanbase that grew accustomed to winning under Brown, and then became restless as the Longhorns slid from perennial BCS contention. Brown arrived in 1998 and went 128-27 by the end of 2009, when the Longhorns lost to Alabama in its second BCS title game in five years.
He goes out, however, 30-21 in his final four seasons.
Texas could do a lot worse than look to Oregon for how to pull off a coaching transition.
Although first-year coach Mark Helfrich couldn’t get the Ducks to a BCS bowl as Chip Kelly did in each of his four seasons, Oregon still finished with a fourth consecutive year of 11 or more victories. This was the Ducks’ third consecutive bowl win.
Playing before New Year’s Day was a disappointing consolation for the Ducks after entering November unbeaten and ranked No. 2. Losing to Stanford dashed their national title hopes, but they’ll be favorites to contend again in 2014 with Mariota back.
Seldom has the Alamo Bowl hosted blowouts like this in recent years. Seven of the previous eight games had been decided by a touchdown or less before heavily favored Oregon ended that run of drama before the second-largest crowd in the bowl’s 20-year history.