Outgoing Texas coach Mack Brown (r) shakes hands with Alamo Bowl rival, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich.
Outgoing Texas coach Mack Brown (r) shakes hands with Alamo Bowl rival, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich.

Tough to look back on Texas football in 2013 with any semblance of satisfaction or silver lining, but the good news is that it's almost over. With Monday night's Alamo Bowl showdown against the mighty Ducks of Oregon, the Longhorns have the chance to send retiring coach Mack Brown off with one final victory – a bittersweet consolation for a final season that opened with BCS hopes and fizzled via a 10-point effort three weeks ago against Baylor.

The result of Monday's finale should come down to whether or not the Longhorns defense – which performed admirably throughout the latter half of the season save for a few slipups against Oklahoma State and Baylor – can contain the Ducks and their double-threat sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota, who led the Pac 10 third-placers to an average of 46.8 points per game this year, good for third in the whole nation.

It's a whopping tally – more than Texas quarterback Case McCoy and the somewhat stagnant Longhorns offense produced in every game except one all year – and presents an interesting riddle. The Ducks will score points. The question is how many, and whether or not outgoing quarterback Case McCoy and his low-flying Longhorn offense will be able to keep up.

Regarding McCoy: The man's no doubt playing for pride this round, and perhaps a final chance to honor the family name. The 6'2" senior's sure to get as many looks from NFL scouts as most members of the Chronicle's editorial squad throughout the coming months, so Monday's for all McCoy's marbles. Here's hoping he picks up his.

That all said, we here at the Chronicle aren't getting our hopes up about any type of serious Duck hunting come Monday night. This whole 2013 season's been somewhat of a mess: Be it injuries to David Ash and Johnathan Gray, the exile of Manny Diaz after that early September BYU debacle, the ass-whoopin' handed to all of Austin by Oklahoma State, or the truly sorry effort against Baylor, Dec. 7, the 121st running of the Texas Longhorns will be remembered as the season in which we realized just how far our hopes and plans fell from realistic expectations.

It's a bummer for Mack Brown, who'll move on after 16 seasons at the helm, and a bummer for the Longhorn faithful, who now look towards 2014 with a whole load of questions. First among them: Who's going to steer the herd?

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