Oregon Football: Keys to Victory over Kansas State in Fiesta Bowl

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2012

BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 10:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks drops back to pass against the California Golden Bears in the first quarter of an NCAA College football game at California Memorial Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Outside of the BCS National Championship, the most highly anticipated matchup is in the Fiesta Bowl between Oregon and Kansas State.

Two Top-Five teams will battle for pride after disappointing losses on the same night cost each side a chance for the national championship.

Kansas State has loads of talent, beginning with Heisman finalist Collin Klein. Still, Oregon has a very good chance of winning if the team follows these keys to victory.


Run, Run and Run Some More

In the final game of the year, there is no reason to change the formula that has worked for the Ducks for so long. 

Oregon has the No. 3 rushing attack in the nation with 323.3 yards per game. Few teams were able to stop the trio of Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and quarterback Marcus Mariota on the ground.

However, Mariota threw a season-high 37 passing attempts in the loss to Stanford. The result was the only game in which the Ducks failed to score 40 points.

Kansas State has an impressive defense, but the Wildcats allowed 342 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the loss to Baylor.

The Ducks must be able to win this game by doing what they do best: running the football.


Force Collin Klein to Pass

While Matt Barkley was able to throw for 484 yards with five touchdowns against Oregon, Klein does not have the same passing ability as the projected first-round draft pick.

The Kansas State quarterback is a very good runner, but he struggles when teams force him to throw the ball.

Against Baylor, he had 50 pass attempts and ended up throwing three interceptions. His previous season-high was 28 attempts.

Oregon needs to put as many defenders in the box as possible to slow down Klein and running back John Hubert. If the Wildcats cannot run, they do not have enough balance to be successful.


Win the Turnover Battle

Both teams have relied on turnovers to be successful this season.

Kansas State led the nation with a positive margin of 1.75 turnovers per game, while Oregon was third at 1.58 per game.

The Wildcats do not give up the ball too often, but the Ducks need to find a way to get some takeaways. This will slow down the opposing offense, as well as providing the team with a short field to score more points.

On the other hand, turning the ball over in any big situation could be devastating in this close game. 

Considering how important the turnover ratio has been to these teams this season, whichever side ends up with more at the end of the game will likely be the winner.