Johnson's Fiesta Thought: The Oregon D
Posted Jan 4, 2013

Terry Johnson's Final Thoughts after Oregon's win over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

- Hats off to the Oregon players for remaining focused on winning the game rather than worrying about the rumors of Chip Kelly's possible departure to the NFL.

- If tonight was indeed his last game as the Oregon head coach, Kelly had amazing run. Under his leadership, the Ducks compiled a 46-7 record, and had more BCS bowl berths (four) than conference losses (three). More impressively, the team will finish in the Top 4 for the third consecutive year.

- De'Anthony Thomas is the most versatile player in college football. Whether it's as a running back, receiver, or kick returner, Thomas is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. It will be interesting to see what he can do next season with the graduation of Kenjon Barner.

- Despite another solid performance from the offense, the game ball belongs to the Oregon D, which is one of the most underappreciated units in the nation. The Duck front seven took away the Wildcats' powerful ground game, allowing just 3.6 yards per carry. Without a running game to rely on, Kansas State had to throw the ball more often, which has never been its strength. In fact, Wildcats are 0-4 in the past two seasons when attempting 30 or more passes.

- The Ducks decisive win will only intensify the debate about the selection criteria for the upcoming four-team playoff. Should the committee take the four best teams (which would have included Oregon and excluded Kansas State) or does it take only the major conference champions? Would it really want to punish the Ducks - who are clearly one of the four best teams in the country - for a single misstep instead of rewarding them for the eleven impressive victories they posted during the regular season?

- Or does it want to negate Kansas State's Big 12 championship instead? I'd love to see the powers-that-be explain why the team that won the deepest league in the country will miss out on the postseason.

- Even though they'll lose some key players next year - including Collin Klein - don't bet against the Wildcats to repeat as Big 12 champs. Snyder does an excellent job of recruiting junior college players who can step in and play immediately, giving K-State the luxury of reloading rather than rebuilding.