Oregon boasts the firepower to turn the projected Fiesta Bowl shootout into a blowout.
The only thing that stood between the Ducks and a BCS Championship berth was an overtime field goal. Kansas State, on the other hand, was exposed in its lone loss of the season. If Oregon executes two key things, it’ll prove that it’s on another level than the Wildcats.
2. Force Collin Klein to Win With His Arm
Baylor held Klein to just 39 yards on 17 carries in K-State’s late-season letdown. The Bears forced Klein to air it out, and he couldn’t keep the Wildcats’ undefeated season alive. He completed just 27 of 50 passes and threw three interceptions.
Oregon must follow the same blueprint—load the box and force Klein and company to abandon the run. If Klein is able to get it going through the air, no big deal. The Ducks have more than enough offensive weapons to keep pace in a shootout.
But they simply can’t allow K-State to set the tempo. If the Wildcats are able to control the clock and march on Oregon’s defense, it’ll be a long day for the Ducks. The key is to make Kansas State one-dimensional, even if it excels in that one dimension.
1. Run Ball Down Wildcats’ Throats
Oregon fell to Stanford because it couldn’t get its usually unstoppable ground game going. Take Marcus Mariota’s 77-yard scamper away, and the Ducks rushed for just 121 yards on 3.1 yards a pop.
Against K-State, they shouldn’t have that problem.
The Wildcats surrendered a whopping 342 rushing yards and five touchdowns vs. Baylor. And this season, the Bears only average 225.5 yards per game on the ground. Oregon averages 323.25.
Kenjon Barner is drooling. And he should be.
If the Ducks play it safe and keep the ball in the hands of Mariota and their explosive backs, they’ll claim the Fiesta Bowl crown.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.