Final Thoughts Before The Fiesta Bowl
Posted Jan 3, 2013

Kansas State vs. Oregon - the Final Thoughts before the Fiesta.

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By Pete Fiutak

- And there's the X factor. It's only human nature for Chip Kelly to partially be preparing for his interview with the (name the NFL team of your choice with the open head coaching job).

- It's only human nature for the Oregon players to be partially wondering who their next head coach is going to be.

- It's not going to be Chip Kelly.

- I'm not going to blame distractions if Kansas State wins it – it won't be fair to a great team that will deserve credit if it pulls this off – but if Oregon isn't Oregon, the outside factors will be the easy and reasonable excuse.

- Everything Kansas State does to be Kansas State won't matter a lick for the Ducks. The Wildcats will grind out a seven minute drive leading to a field goal, and then Oregon will answer with a touchdown in three plays taking 57 seconds off the clock.

- As much as I think Oregon should win this game in a walk, the Cal and Stanford games stick out. There's a chance that with time to prepare, Bill Snyder and KSU have figured out how to bottle up the tippy-tappy Duck attack.

- Gut feeling: Marcus Mariota becomes the it guy coming out of the 2012-2013 bowl season, not Teddy Bridgewater.

- Again with the Stanford concerns. Kevin Hogan was fantastic at running when he had to against the Ducks, and while his game is different from Collin Klein's – CK isn't going to throw the ball 35 times – the blueprint is there for the Wildcat running game.

- The game will be played in Arizona and inside in a climate controlled environment, but I still demand that Snyder rocks the mock turtleneck.

- Fun stat: Oregon played eight bowl teams this year, beat seven, and won each of its 11 games by at least 11 points. Outside of the 62-51 win over USC, and the loss to Stanford, the next closest game was … ? Oregon 42, Fresno State 25. The Ducks have been absolutely dominant.

- Fun stat: Kansas State played nine bowl eligible teams, beat eight.

- Really, why are these two teams here? Kansas State is No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin, and Oregon is No. 3.

Richard Cirminiello

Keep an eye on a healthy Oregon D in this game. Remember, this unit was ravaged by injuries in November, so five weeks off will be immensely helpful to those who didn't suffer season-enders. There is an underrated level of talent and speed on Nick Aliotti's defense.

Okay, so it took more than just a single player, QB Collin Klein, for Kansas State to win the Big 12 and go 11-1. But the Wildcats are awfully one-dimensional, and a month is a long time to prepare for that kind of a monotone production.

Love the contrasting coaching styles of the venerable Bill Snyder and young superstar Chip Kelly. Somewhat reminiscent of when JoePa squared off against Urban Meyer in the 2011 Outback Bowl.

Remember K-State lone loss to Baylor, a 52-24 rout? Sorry, Wildcats fans, but the Oregon offense will be reminiscent of what you witnessed on Nov. 17. The Ducks, too, have an abundance of speed that they'll use to spread the field and stretch the defense.

Is this the game that Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas goes nuts, reminding the nation why he's one of the most electrifying players in college football? He had a relatively quiet sophomore year, compared to expectations, which had a lot to do with a paucity of touches.

Yeah, yeah, turnovers are always critical. But they'll be especially vital to Kansas State, which will need a handful of them to win this game. If the Wildcats pull an upset, it'll be because DE Meshak Williams, LB Arthur Brown and FS Ty Zimmerman did something unique on their side of the ball.

With so much attention going to Thomas and RB Kenjon Barner, QB Marcus Mariota ought to get some clean looks at his favorite targets. Colt Lyerla is an up-and-comer at tight end, and a healthy Josh Huff is liable to cause the Wildcats fits at wide receiver.

Distractions regarding Kelly's future in Eugene? Pffft. Oregon will have none of it. They've spent the past month preparing for Klein. K-State, on the other hand, has about a dozen players to worry about. The Ducks will roll over the Cats in something that could approach what West Virginia did to Clemson in last January's Orange Bowl.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

- The football played in the desert night is clearly the best matchup aside from the big one coming up on Monday night. Even then, you could argue that this matchup may even be better. Time will tell. Either way, it'll be sweet dessert on the palate.

- Why isn't there more discussion on one of these two teams being left out in the cold for the BCS Championship game? Notre Dame is a no-brainer since it's the only eligible, unbeaten team left, but why is it a foregone conclusion that Alabama is the clear second choice? Certainly not being able to play in a conference championship game hurt both the Wildcats and the Ducks, but why didn't it hurt the Tide last year? When's that playoff thingy start again?

- Who will be able to set the pace in this game? Oregon will be looking to stomp on the clutch and peel out into the open road, while Kansas state will be looking to methodically go through the gears with purpose. Whichever team has more success imposing its will has the better chance of holding up that spectacle that is the Fiesta Bowl trophy.

- is this Chip Kelly's last game? He's been rumored for almost every open job including yours, and it'll be very interesting to see if he's wearing the headset on Sundays next fall. There are seven head coach openings in the NFL, and Oregon is still trying to give the NCAA the stiff-arm on potential sanctions. Look for a decision on Kelly's future not long after all the nachos are eaten in the Phoenix area.

- On the other sideline, how long will Bill Snyder hang around in Manhattan? He's already come out of retirement once and he's not getting any younger. Snyder is a difference maker in college football so let's hope he still has a surplus of gas in the tank.

- Collin Klein is likely auditioning for his draft status on Wednesday night. He's shown marked growth under Bill Snyder, but Klein still has to show that he can make sound decisions when put under the gun. Against Baylor, the weight of everything got to him and he forces many throws trying to make too much happen. There's a good chance that a lot will happen every Sunday in the NFL.