Fiesta Bowl 2013: 5 Reasons Oregon Will Win by at Least 2 TDs
The 2013 Fiesta Bowl is thought to be the most exciting matchup of bowl season after the title game.
But if we're being honest, watching Oregon and Kansas State do battle will be a whole lot more entertaining than Notre Dame and Bama, especially if you're a fan of elite offenses.
The Ducks blew out every team they played, except for Stanford, and they boast an offense that averages over 50 points per game.
The Wildcats had a couple close games, but they are led by Heisman finalist Collin Klein, who scored 22 touchdowns on the ground. They also have the most impressive win of the two teams with their 24-19 victory at Oklahoma.
Many pundits seem to think this game will be a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. While that type of game wouldn't surprise anybody, the Ducks have a chance to really dominate this contest.
Here are five reasons why Oregon will win the Fiesta Bowl by at least two touchdowns.
1. Baylor Blueprint
One of the reasons for optimism among Duck fans is the Kansas State-Baylor game in which the Bears put on a thorough and dominating offensive performance.
They piled up 52 points and 580 total yards, which included 342 on the ground. For perspective, the Ducks average over 100 more yards per game rushing than the Bears do.
Kansas State sorely missed safety Ty Zimmerman, but one man's absence doesn't explain the astonishing numbers given up by the defense.
Out of all the Wildcats' opponents, Baylor has the offense most similar to the Ducks', and they went up and down the field with ease.
K-State fans could call that game a fluke, and point to its contest at West Virginia as proof that its D can shut down good offenses. But there are two problems with that argument.
First, the Mountaineers were shut down the week before by a Texas Tech defense giving up more than 30 points per game. Second, West Virginia doesn't have the same athleticism at QB that both the Bears and Ducks do. Baylor quarterback Nick Florence rushed for more than 500 yards this season, and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota had nearly 700. In comparison, Geno Smith had just 155 yards all year.
Kansas State obviously didn't play its best game, but its performance against Baylor doesn't bode well when the next opponent has a similar, but more efficient, offense.
2. Big Game Experience
Playing in front of a national audience under the bright lights with so much at stake is nothing new for the Oregon Ducks.
This is the fourth straight BCS bowl game for Kelly's crew, so it's unlikely they'll arrive nervous and timid. The Ducks also opened up the 2011 season in Dallas against LSU in a game that people talked about all offseason.
Skeptics will point to the Ducks' 1-2 record in those bowl games as well as the 40-27 loss to the Tigers. They'll say the big-game experience has meant nothing because Oregon failed to deliver aside from last season's Rose Bowl.
But the point is that intimidation from the big-game atmosphere won't be an issue for Oregon. That's not to say Kansas State will get caught up in the hoopla, but the Ducks are better prepared to handle it.
Besides, two of the Ducks' three BCS losses were to teams that didn't lose a single regular-season game. Anybody else beat LSU last season outside of the title game? Did another team beat Auburn in 2010?
The losses are in the past, but the experience is something that carries forward. Plus, with the Ducks' victory over Wisconsin last season, they should have confidence heading into their Fiesta Bowl matchup.
3. Ducks' Scoring Defense
The Oregon Ducks give up an average of 22 points per game.
That's better than any team the Wildcats have faced this season. Better than Oklahoma, a team that Kansas State scored 24 against. Better than TCU, a team they scored just 23 against.
Those who think this may be a high-scoring affair haven't really looked at the stats.
The one team to score more than 30 against Oregon was USC, and it has a completely different offense than the Wildcats. The Trojans have a better passing quarterback to go along with one of the best receiving duos in the country.
K-State won't challenge Oregon in the same way that the Trojans did, because Klein isn't capable of beating the Ducks through the air like Barkley did.
The best dual-threat QB Oregon faced this season was Matt Scott, and he led his offense to exactly zero points. While Klein is a different animal with a toughness the Ducks haven't seen before, he heads on offense that shouldn't strike fear into the best D they'll face all season.
While a high-scoring thriller is what many are hoping for, the Ducks' defense could leave viewers disappointed.
4. Klein's Recent Inconsistencies
Collin Klein was a Heisman finalist for a reason, but his recent outings could signal trouble in the Fiesta Bowl.
In Kansas State's first nine games, Klein completed over 70 percent of his passes and threw 12 touchdowns with just two interceptions. But in his final three games, Klein completed just 56 percent of his throws, and threw just three touchdowns to go along with five interceptions.
Against a Baylor defense that ranks 117th in scoring, Klein threw three picks and averaged just 2.3 yards per carry, his lowest average of any game this season.
Oregon's defense ranks 91 spots higher than Baylor's.
If Klein has a performance that resembles anything close to his effort in the latter part of the season, the Wildcats' offense could struggle mightily.
5. Performance Away from Home
Quite often a team will have its best performance at home in front of fans who get loud when the team is on defense and stay quiet when they're on offense.
The home crowd typically energizes the team, and Kansas State's success in Manhattan fits the mold perfectly. But Oregon has played better away from the friendly confines of Autzen Stadium, and that ability to block out distractions could prove crucial in Arizona.
The Wildcats have outscored opponents 153-116 away from home, while the Ducks have beat their opponents by a total score of 263-139 in road/neutral site games.
If you take away Oregon's 42 point win at Cal, the Ducks are still beating teams by an average of 20.5 points per game on the road. But if you take away the Wildcats' 41 point win at West Virginia, they are beating teams by just 8 points per game away from home.
Of course, that doesn't even include Kansas State's 28 point loss to the Baylor Bears.
On top of recent big-game experience, the Ducks are also the more effective team in road/neutral site games. Should Kansas State hold the crowd majority, Oregon will find itself right at home.