Friday, December 14, 2012
Pac-12 bowl primer: Tostitos Fiesta
By Ted Miller
This week we'll be taking a snapshot look at all of the bowl games including Pac-12 teams.
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL
Oregon (11-1, 8-1) vs. Kansas State (11-1, 8-1)
Where: Glendale, Ariz., University of Phoenix Stadium
When: Thurs. Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT
About Oregon: The Ducks dominated their schedule, other than the 17-14 overtime loss at home to Stanford. The only other team that was within three TDs of Oregon was USC, and even that game wasn't as close as the 62-51 final indicated. This is a team that appeared headed for the national title game until it fell in Week 11 against the Cardinal, who also knocked the Ducks out of the Pac-12 title game. Oregon was very good on both sides of the ball this year, ranking third in the nation in rushing (323.25 yards per game), fourth in total offense (550.08 ypg) and second in scoring (50.83 ppg). The defense ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring (22 ppg), third in yards per play (5.0) and its 38 turnovers gained tied for first in the nation.
About Kansas State: The Wildcats and Ducks parallel each other in many ways. They not only were supposed to play this season until the game was canceled, they also suffered their only loss on the same weekend. Kansas State went down 52-24 at Baylor on Nov. 17. Like the Ducks, the Wildcats are strong on both sides of the ball. They ranked 10th in the nation in scoring (40.7 ppg) and 24th in scoring defense (21.1). They are balanced on offense, rushing for 199 yards per game and passing for 212. Their marquee victory came at Oklahoma, a 24-19 win that ended up giving them the Big 12 title.
Key player, Oregon: Here's a certainty: If Kenjon Barner, the nation's No. 5 rusher with 135 yards per game, has a big evening, the Ducks win. If the Ducks are running the ball well -- read: Barner -- then their offense is pretty much unstoppable. Only Stanford and California held the Ducks below 200 yards rushing, and the Bears yielded six TD passes from Marcus Mariota while ganging up on the run. It won't be easy, though. The Wildcats rank 16th in the nation in run defense (119.2 ypg). Barner will be tracked by LB Arthur Brown, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Key player, Kansas State: It all starts with QB Collin Klein for the Wildcats, a Heisman Trophy finalist and one of the nation's top dual-threat QBs. Klein passed for 2,490 yards and 15 TDs and rushed for 892 yards and 22 scores. He's an efficient passer -- 16th in the nation -- and a smart, creative playmaker. Contain Klein, you contain the Wildcats.
Did you know: The Ducks and Wildcats have never played before. ... Oregon is playing in its fourth consecutive BCS bowl game. ... The Ducks last played in University of Phoenix Stadium two years ago, when they lost to Auburn 22-19 for the national title. ... Kansas State's leading receiver, Chris Harper, used to play quarterback for Oregon before transferring. ... Kansas State leads the nation in punt returns, kickoff returns and turnover margin. ... Oregon is third in turnover margin.