There are quite a few who think Oregon, regardless of their end-of-season rankings, are the best College Football team in the nation, many others who think that their Fiesta Bowl clash is the best game of the 2012-2013 bowl season.
One weekend, and everything changed. After Alabama lost to Texas A&M, it looked like nothing could stop Oregon and Kansas State from meeting in the national title game. Instead, they both suffered stunning defeats to Stanford and Baylor, leaving them disappointed that their BCS game is still against each other, just not for the prize they thought it’d be.
For Oregon, it’s the fourth consecutive BCS Bowl under Chip Kelly, including two Rose Bowl trips and a dramatic loss in the national championship game to Auburn. Their offense left no doubt this season about their ambitions, finishing with the 4th ranked offense in the nation (550.1 yards per game), averaging 50.8 points per game and gaining 323.3 yards on the ground. Kenjon Barner got a first crack at Oregon’s feature role in his senior season, delivering with 1624 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Their quarterback, Marcus Mariota, has been extremely efficient, throwing only six interceptions to his 30 passing touchdowns while running for 690 yards and scoring four more with his feet. He was picked off once in the last six games, a stretch during which he also showed off his rushing ability with 469 yards.
Turnovers is something both teams cause very well. Oregon’s defense does have problems stopping the run, giving up at least 190 rushing yards in four of its final seven games, but it usually took quite a rest in second half of blowout, which was most of their wins this season. They’ve forced 39 turnovers, best in the nation, while the Wildcats have forced 31 this season.
And while Oregon’s running game is usually associated with speed, Kansas State is a bit more direct, like Bill Snyder loves to show. Collin Kelin, finishing third in the Heisman vote, is what this offense is all about. He can throw the ball (2490 yards, 15 touchdowns, 7 interceptions), but Kansas State are much better when he runs, finishing with 890 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. Kansas State averaged just under 200 rushing yards per game.
Prediction – Two teams with good defenses, but Oregon’s offense was barely halted by Stanford, one of the top 3 defenses in the nation. Collin Klein is good, but he won’t be able to keep up with the offensive arsenal Oregon unleash every time they take the field.