It was worth the wait. After a long and nervous Sunday waiting for a bowl invitation, Oregon State’s football team was happy with the results.
The Beavers, ranked No. 15 by The Associated Press and No. 13 in the final Bowl Championship Series standings, were selected to play in the 20th annual Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Antonio’s Alamodome.
OSU (9-3) will face Texas, unranked by the AP and No. 23 in the BCS standings. The Longhorns (8-4) finished third in the Big 12 behind Kansas State and Oklahoma.
The Beavers picked as the No. 3 team out of the Pac-12 behind BCS teams Oregon and Stanford, and over South Division champion UCLA, who is headed to the Holiday Bowl.
“We are truly excited about this great opportunity for Oregon State and the Beaver football team,” coach Mike Riley said Sunday night after accepting the invitation. “We are proud to be selected to be in the Alamo Bowl.”
The Alamo will be the most prestigious bowl game for the Beavers since the 2001 Fiesta.
Texas and OSU have met twice in Austin with the Longhorns winning both games. Texas won 35-0 in 1980 and 61-6 in 1987.
The Longhorns have played once in the Alamo Bowl, defeating Iowa, 26-24, in 2006.
“We are very excited about the invitation,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “We are fortunate to come to the Alamo Bowl again. We are excited about coming back. We have so much support down there. No city does it better than San Antonio when in comes to hospitality. No one treated us better than when we were there to play Iowa.”
Northern Illinois slipped into the top 16 of the BCS standings and that impacted bowl-game matchups. The Mid-America Conference champions are headed to the Orange Bowl, bumping Oklahoma out of a BCS game and into the Cotton Bowl.
That, in turn, moved Texas into the Alamo Bowl.
Bowl officials said they would consider taking UCLA on the Pac-12 end if Texas was available to help TV ratings while the Longhorns filled up the stadium.
After the selection committee deliberated until the final hours Sunday, members decided on the Beavers, who defeated UCLA earlier this season and are ranked higher in all the polls.
“It’s great to be in a bowl game and have that extra time with your team,” Riley said. “I look at the game as a great reward for the season you have been through, and a chance to get ready to play another game. It’s also a kickoff to the next year to work with the younger players on the team. So we are excited to be back in a bowl game.”
The Beavers learned about about the invitation late in the day. When Riley walked into the team meeting room, he described the atmosphere as electric.
Players were excited about what they accomplished, a big turnaround season from 3-9 to 9-3 with the opportunity to face a storied program in Texas.
“It’s awesome and it shows how hard we worked in the offseason and how focused everyone has been all year,” quarterback Sean Mannion said. “To play in an outstanding bowl game this season is going to be an honor.”
The Beavers return to a bowl game for the first time since the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl, a loss to BYU. They are 5-1 in bowl games with Riley as the coach.
Texas is making its 51st bowl appearance. Brown has a 9-4 bowl record with the Longhorns.
“We get to go to a city we love and it’s also a city the parents of our players can watch,” Brown said. “We expect a large crowd. And we get to play against a Mike Riley-coached team. I respect and appreciate him very much. I look forward to the matchup and look forward to the game.”
The only bad news of the day came from senior reserve running back Jordan Jenkins. Riley said Jenkins broke his left ankle against Nicholls State and will miss the bowl game.