SAN ANTONIO — The Ducks were almost as popular as Santa Claus when they dropped in on Christmas Day.
The flashbulbs were popping and the local television camera crews were filming as the welcoming committee — including a Mariachi band — greeted coaches and players upon their arrival at Oregon's downtown hotel Wednesday evening.
No. 10 Oregon plans to take advantage of the warm hospitality this week while also preparing to beat Texas in the Alamo Bowl on Monday night (3:45 p.m., ESPN).
"They have a lot of things planned for us. I feel like everybody has been treated so well, there is no reason to look down on something like this," senior safety Brian Jackson said when questioned about the Ducks' motivation after the program missed out on the BCS bowl party for the first time since the 2008 season.
The Pac-12 representatives at this year's Alamo Bowl understand the Longhorns will be doing everything in their power to give legendary coach Mack Brown a victory in his final game.
"If you want to try and find a reason for motivation, you can nitpick on anything. We could say our motivation is we are going to win this in our coach's first season," Jackson said. "We could go that route if it's about coaches. I think it really all depends on who's coming ready to play, who's more prepared and who really thinks more of this football game."
Mark Helfrich said his team had the attitude and body language he was looking for in practices last week. The Ducks had a team meeting Wednesday night and returned to the practice field Thursday at a nearby high school.
"If there would have been any evidence of (not being excited), it would have shown up already in our preparation," Helfrich said. "As soon as you see the Texas tape and see these guys "¦ it's a huge challenge. This is a great program."
Oregon (10-2) is a 14-point favorite over Texas (8-4). A sellout crowd of more than 65,000 is expected at the Alamodome.
No 'earth-shattering' issues
Oregon's players, who were given time off for the holiday after last Saturday's morning practice, were expected to reconvene at the team hotel Wednesday night.
Helfrich did not have a complete headcount after stepping off the bus with the athletic department staff and players who opted to travel on the charter from Eugene. Some Ducks were flying independently from as far away as Honolulu, Ohio and Alabama.
"We've got guys rallying from all over the country, being that our guys are wide spread. We've got a couple of travel-related issues, but nothing earth-shattering," Helfrich said. "Our guys have handled this well in the past, and hopefully it will be the same this year."
Helfrich said there were no academic casualties or any new disciplinary issues leading into the game.
Tight end Pharaoh Brown, who is suspended from playing in the Alamo Bowl after his involvement in a campus snowball fight, will still practice with the team and attend the game. Cornerback Troy Hill remains suspended indefinitely following a recent arrest and did not make the trip.
Following the leaders
There are plenty of organized events for the Ducks this week. The team attended a San Antonio Spurs game Wednesday, visited a hospital Thursday and are to visit Sea World today. The team has a pep rally and barbecue to attend Saturday.
Helfrich believes Oregon's players are mature enough to handle any free time on the San Antonio River Walk.
"When I was a young guy redshirting and we were at the national championship game, I had Jordan Holmes take me under his wing and I followed him everywhere," junior center Hroniss Grasu said. "What I can tell the young guys is pick a guy you look up to and just follow him. Don't go off on your own way and always look up to the older guys. If you find yourself walking around by yourself, that's not a good thing."
If the Ducks are able to win the Alamo Bowl, the team would be only the fifth in program history to reach the 11-win mark.
"We're going to ingrain that in their minds: We're here to win a football game," Helfrich said.