The bowl games are finally getting interesting, and we may see the best one Thursday night in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The Oregon Ducks are always a fun team to watch due to their high-scoring offense, and the Kansas State Wildcats have also become a team to keep an eye on with their underdog story.
And even though the Wildcats finished with an 11-1 season in the Big 12 this year, they will again remain underdogs against Oregon. Now, this isn't on the same level as Florida State and Northern Illinois, but you aren't going to find many people picking against the team on the West Coast.
If you happen to be predicting a blowout in this one, you should think again. This should result in one of the better bowl matchups of the year, and the Wildcats have a realistic shot at winning.
The Little Things Add Up
It really isn't what Kansas State does well that makes it such a great team. It is more what it doesn't do that has helped produce the most successful season in program history. This is a team that does not shoot itself in the foot with foolish penalties and costly turnovers.
The 28.8 penalty yards per game is the second fewest in the country, and there have been six games this season where there were two or fewer penalties.
Turnover wise, the plus-1.83 per game is the best in college football. There have been 32 turnovers forced, which is the most in the Big 12, and the 10 lost is tied for the second fewest with Ohio.
Bill Snyder may not have a team that is as talented as Oregon, but he has a disciplined team that will force the Ducks to make plays. Don't expect Kansas State to beat itself in this matchup and hand over a victory like many teams find a way to do.
Nothing comes cheap against the Wildcats, and it is one of the main reasons they have been so successful this past year. If Chip Kelly wants to win his second straight BCS bowl game, his team will have to earn it.
Some Guy Named Collin Klein
Oregon scores boatloads of points and runs the other team out of the building. That's all well and good, but Kansas State has some quarterback named Collin Klein.
He was a Heisman finalist this year and is easily one of the better quarterbacks in the country. If you haven't seen him play, you are in for a treat in this one.
The senior quarterback has been responsible for 37 touchdowns, with 22 of them coming on the ground. He isn't known for throwing the prettiest football in the world, but he is still completing more than 66 percent of his passes.
He has produced 25 plays of more than 25 yards through the air, is a playmaker with the ball in his hands and could give this Oregon defense fits.
Oregon safety Brian Jackson told Isaac Rosenthal of the Daily Emerald just how scary Klein can be when he is able to use his feet:
He’s got good targets. Jackson said. And he knows how to thread the ball when it needs to be threaded. We definitely have our work cut out for us with him as a dual-threat quarterback. He knows how to run, he knows how to pass and he’s a lot more dangerous when he’s on the move because he can extend plays.
Kansas State may not be as explosive on the offensive side of the ball as Oregon. In fact, it is more of a one-man show on offense. But having a quarterback such as Klein gives Kansas State a fair shot to pull off the upset.
Time off Hasn't Helped Oregon in the Past
Thanks to the tidbit from Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, four of the seven loses that Oregon has suffered under Coach Kelly have come in either bowl games or the first game of the season. In other words, when his team has extra time to prepare for a long layoff, the results don't end as great as you would expect.
Could it be because the opponent has more than a week to try and figure out the high-flying offense? Is it because the long layoff makes the team rusty?
Regardless of what your theory may be, Oregon hasn't done well against highly ranked teams when having extra time to prepare. This may just be a coincidence, or it may be something else that we haven't quite figured out yet.
Whatever the reason may be, Ducks fans should be concerned.
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