Wildcats vs. Ducks: Fiesta Bowl Preview and Result
It should have been different for these two teams. They went 10-0 during the season but in the course of one fateful night, their fortunes changed. On the 17th of November, 2012, the destinies of the Kansas State Wildcats and the Oregon Ducks shifted in an unexpected way.
Both teams seemed like locks for the Bowl Championship Series final, but on that fateful mid-November night they both lost: unranked Baylor whipped seventh-ranked K-State 52-24, while Oregon fell to Stanford 17-14 in overtime.
So now these 11-1 squads face other in the Fiesta Bowl at Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium on Thursday night in a kind of consolation final. While it has to feel like a letdown compared to where they could have been, at least they do get to determine what might have been.
Collin Klein knows what it’s like to watch it all slip away. The Wildcats quarterback had been at the top of the Heisman Trophy conversation until the Baylor game, then proceeded to throw three interceptions and was sacked twice. He was also limited in his heralded rushing to only 39 yards on 17 carries; the Baylor defense stifled him on a first-and-goal situation from the 6-yard line in the fourth quarter, and he couldn’t score on four carries — two of those were from the 1. Ouch.
Still, Klein is a multi-tooled athlete with 2,490 passing yards and 15 touchdowns to accompany his 890 rushing yards and 22 TDs. K-State also are no slouches when it comes to putting points on the board, averaging 40.7 points per game. Junior running back John Hubert has carried for 892 yards and 15 touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Chris Harper has a team-best 50 catches for 786 yards. Behind it all is a system designed by Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder which focuses on “16 goals for success.”
Klein’s opposite number, redshirt freshman QB Marcus Mariota, completed nearly 70 percent of his pass attempts for 2,511 yards and 30 TDs for the Ducks. Featured back Kenjon Barner racked up 1,624 rushing yards, and both have contributed to the team’s ranking of second in the nation in scoring at a whopping 50.8 points per game. This could also be the final college game for Oregon head coach Chip Kelly as rumors abound that he is being headhunted by NFL teams.
Much is made of the offensive fireworks, but these two teams are skilled on defense as well. Oregon leads all of U.S. college football with 39 takeaways — with four interceptions for touchdowns — while Kansas State has made opponents cough up the ball 31 times. Based on the defensive prowess combined with their offensive skills, Oregon is the favorite going into the game.
Prediction: Oregon 42, Kansas State 38.
RESULT: After surrendering a 94-yard runback for a touchdown on the opening kickoff, Kansas State never got back into the game and lost 35-17 to Oregon.