Fiesta Bowl 2013: Breaking Down X-Factors for Oregon and Kansas State
Newly crowned in the BCS Top 5 after the events of Week 14, No. 4 Oregon and No. 5 Kansas State were on a crash course with each other in the National Championship game for most of the season.
That is, until both lost in Week 12.
They'll get the chance to show the country what kind of title game it would have been on January 3, when the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will host the two top teams with a BCS bowl on the line.
Oregon and Kansas State have identical regular season and conference records (11-1, 8-1) and will look to get that 12th win in front of a national audience. Here's a look at the schedule for the game and X-factors for both teams a month before this game ever comes to fruition.
What: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
When: Thursday, January 3
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Oregon X-Factor: RB/WR/KR/PR De'Anthony Thomas
The subheading should tell you all you need to know about how important Thomas is to this offense.
Racking up over 15 touchdowns through the air and on the ground this year, Thomas has been the spark plug when Kenjon Barner struggles and Marcus Mariota needs a pick-me-up.
Not only is he valuable in the running game, where his one-cut speed is lethal, but getting him out in space against a linebacker or safety is an obvious mismatch for most teams.
The key stat on Thomas is what he wasn't able to do against Stanford—the Ducks' only loss of the season—where he finished with his least amount of total offense, other than against Arizona State.
Clearly, 46 yards of total offense isn't going to cut it against the Wildcats, who are able to control the line of scrimmage quite well despite not having any marquee names on coach Bill Snyder's defense.
Kansas State X-Factor: LB Arthur Brown
Collin Klein and this offense will be just fine. The game against Texas proved that, and Oregon doesn't have the athletes or scheme that Texas employs.
That being said, I think Brown and these linebackers will have a huge task in front of them in stopping Mariota, Thomas and the rest of the skill players Oregon has.
Not only is Brown a finalist for the Lott Trophy, a award given to the college football player that means the most to his defense, he's the emotional leader for a defense that will need to travel sideline to sideline in a hurry to slow down Kansas State.
Coincidentally, Stanford's Chase Thomas is also on the Lott Trophy list, a man Brown needs to emulate if Kansas State will be able to pull off this upset. Stanford laid the ground work, and the Wildcats will need to follow that pattern, with Brown leading the way.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.
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