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Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: K-State X factor

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
11:15
AM ET
What's one X factor that will decide tonight's game between Oregon and K-State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl? Let's take a look:

Kansas State X factor: Wildcats receivers

These guys might be the most underrated unit in the entire Big 12. K-State's run-heavy offense limits their ability to put up numbers competitive with the rest of the pass-happy Big 12 that loves to sling it around. Still, the combination of Chris Harper, Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett will have a huge effect on this game. Lockett didn't play in last year's Cotton Bowl but dropped passes plagued the Wildcats in an ugly loss to Arkansas.

All three topped 35 catches and 500 yards this season, which is pretty impressive considering the Wildcats attempted just 282 passes all season. Harper leads the group with 786 yards on 50 grabs, followed by Lockett with 657 yards on 40 catches and Thompson with 514 yards on 36 catches. They combined for 11 touchdown grabs. Thompson and Lockett are both speedy, deep threats, while Harper is more of a physical possession receiver (and an Oregon transfer who came to K-State to play quarterback). When these guys get going and play consistently, K-State's offense is nearly impossible to stop. They're not the most physically gifted guys. Harper doesn't have breakaway speed, and Thompson and Lockett are both undersized, but all three make their names with solid route running and mostly consistent hands. If they showcase those against Oregon, the Ducks will have big problems slowing the Wildcats' offense.

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