TCU

Alamo foes TCU, Oregon faced off in 1977, ’78 when both were horrible

The Duck mascot, shown from 2013, wasn’t officially adopted as Oregon’s team nickname until 1978. That was the second year of a home-and-home series between TCU and Oregon, when football times were hard for both schools.
The Duck mascot, shown from 2013, wasn’t officially adopted as Oregon’s team nickname until 1978. That was the second year of a home-and-home series between TCU and Oregon, when football times were hard for both schools. AP

TCU and Oregon face off in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Saturday in San Antonio as two of the country’s marquee football programs.

However, long before the BCS and playoff bowl appearances and long before the uniforms — oh, the uniforms — the schools played each other as arguably two of the worst teams in the land.

In 1977, Oregon was known as the Ducks, and had adopted Disney’s Donald as mascot after World War II. But officially they still carried the original nickname of Webfoots when they came to Fort Worth under first-year coach Rich Brooks.

On that Sept. 17, the Webfoots notched one of their two wins of the season against TCU, winning 29-24 after blowing a 21-point lead. The catalyst for the TCU comeback came from linebacker Steve Barker, who sprinted off the sideline to tackle Oregon’s Kenny Bryant on an interception return that would have gone for a touchdown.

Bryant would be awarded the touchdown, but TCU gathered momentum to tie the game four minutes later.

Oregon’s only other win that season was a 28-16 victory in the Civil War against rival Oregon State. TCU also finished with a 2-9 record.

The following year, TCU completed the home-and-home by traveling to Eugene to face the newly (officially) named Ducks and won 14-10 on Sept. 16. Both teams would again finish 2-9 in 1978.

The rubber match, played 37 years later, pairs a 9-3 Oregon against a 10-2 TCU.

Oregon enters the game on an 11-season bowl streak, which includes national championship game appearances in 2011 and 2015.

The Ducks began the season ranked No. 7 in the AP Top 25 poll, but saw their stock fall after starting quarterback Vernon Adams suffered a finger injury in the Ducks’ season opener against Eastern Washington.

Adams missed three games and only saw limited action in the Ducks’ 62-20 loss to Utah.

Once Adams returned for Oregon’s Oct. 17 meeting with Washington, the Ducks posted a six-game winning streak to close out the season.

Key player

RB Royce Freeman (5-11, 230): While Adams’ return was key in Oregon’s late-season success, Freeman carried the offense through the roller coaster. The sophomore finished the regular season fourth in the country in rushing yards (1,706) as well as rushing yards per game (142.2) and eighth in yards per carry (6.64).

His 14 rushing touchdowns lead the team by a margin of 11, and includes a career-long 64-yard touchdown against Arizona State on Oct. 29.

Freeman was selected as second-team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America and was the only player in the country to gain more than 100 yards from scrimmage in every game this season.

He enters the Alamo Bowl 99 yards shy of the school’s single-season rushing record of 1,805, set by LaMichael James in 2011.

Travis L. Brown: tbrown7137@gmail.com, @Travis_L_Brown.

Alamo Bowl

No. 11 TCU vs. No. 15 Oregon

5:45 p.m. Saturday, ESPN

Ducks by the numbers

179.6 Vernon Adams’ pass efficiency rating, the nation’s best. Adams completed 155 of 240 passes for 2,446 yards and 25 touchdowns with six interceptions.

287.8 Oregon’s rushing yards per game, good enough for fifth in the country.

6.05 Yards per play given up by Oregon’s defense. The Ducks rank 115th in total defense nationally.

TCU-Oregon previous meetings

Sept 17, 1977: Oregon 29, TCU 24

Amon G. Carter Stadium

Sept. 23, 1978: TCU 14, Oregon 10

Autzen Stadium (Eugene, Ore.)

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