Two of the nation’s best offenses clash Thursday night as the Oregon Ducks faces the Kansas State Wildcats in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the U of Phoenix Stadium.
Both teams had a shot at the BCS National Championship game, but lost on the same night on Nov. 17, and saw those chances dwindle away.
Kansas State senior quarterback Collin Klein also saw his hopes for the Heisman dashed, but the Wildcats rallied and won their season finale and the Big 12 title in a 42-24 rout over Texas. Kansas State forced three Longhorn turnovers and Klein generated three touchdowns, while running back John Hubert rushed for another three scores.
The Wildcats clinched the Big 12 title for the first time since 2003, behind Klein’s 15 passing and 22 rushing touchdowns and the No. 8 scoring offense in the country, with 40.7 points per game.
Oregon put up 50.8 points per contest this year, second in the nation, thanks to the offensive schemes of head coach Chip Kelly. That prolific offense has garnered serious interest from NFL teams, and Kelly has reportedly met with several teams, and is scheduled to meet more on Friday.
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It will be interesting to see if the Ducks are distracted by all the attention surrounding their coach.
This is the fourth straight BCS bowl game appearance for Oregon under Kelly, and they’ve had more than six weeks off since finishing second in the Pac-12 North to Stanford. The Ducks fell 17-14 in overtime to Stanford back on Nov. 17, and despite a 48-24 drubbing of rival Oregon State the following week, came up short in their conference.
Like the Wildcats, Oregon will field a dangerous quarterback-running back tandem in Marcus Mariota and Kenjon Barner. Mariota threw 30 touchdown passes, and Barner was nearly a Heisman finalist after scoring 21 touchdowns and gaining 1,624 rushing yards.
The game kicks-off at 8:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast by ESPN.
Betting Odds: Oregon is favored by 8.5 points.
Over/Under: 74 points
Prediction: This game should be much closer than the point spread shows. Kansas State’s defense will contain Barner for long stretches, but Klein should also struggle against Oregon’s athletic secondary. The game will come down turnovers, and expect the Wildcats to pull off a late upset.
Predicted Score: Kansas State 40, Oregon 37