Thursday, January 3, 2013
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl keys
By David Ubben
Let's take a look at three keys for a K-State victory Thursday night in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl versus Oregon.
1. Win the turnover battle. You could point to this in really any game, but here is why it's so important in the Fiesta Bowl: Both teams win on the backs of turnovers. K-State does a little of both -- forcing and preventing. Both teams are in the top three nationally in turnover margin, but K-State has largely done so by preventing turnovers; the Wildcats have just 10 turnovers all season, fewer than all but one team in college football. Oregon, meanwhile, is tied for the national lead with 38 takeaways in 12 games. That's a 2011 Oklahoma State-like pace. If either team has an uncharacteristic performance (giveaways by K-State, no takeaways by Oregon), you can bet it'll correlate with the winner.
2. Keep Oregon from YAC-ing it up. This counts for yards after catch too, but mostly contact. Arthur Brown is a speedy, sure tackler and K-State has done a good job as a whole in that area, but it's of special importance against speedsters like Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, who can turn a 10-yard gain into a 60- or 70-yard gain if you don't tackle them when you get an opportunity. Marcus Mariota can do it too, but the Wildcats' defense knows the kind of task that lies ahead. Will that show on the field? In case you missed the Baylor loss, big plays are the quickest way to knock off K-State.
3. Stick with what you do best. Two of K-State's worst performances all season featured the two highest pass attempt totals of the year for Collin Klein. He attempted 28 passes in a three-quarter fistfight against Missouri State before letting it fly an insane 50 times in the loss to Baylor. That game was within reach late until the Lache Seastrunk 80-yard run, but it seemed as if K-State panicked, forced the ball downfield and had Klein throwing way, way more than is advisable. Even if Oregon stuffs the run early or for most of the game, unless you're down 30, having Klein continue to drop back and throw it while abandoning the run game isn't the answer. Stick with the ground game. Whichever team throws the ball least in this game wins. I'd almost guarantee that.