Oregon and Kansas State are finished with the 2013 Fiesta Bowl. Oregon defeated Kansas State 35-17.
Oregon led the game off by returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and the Ducks executed a two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead with only 12 seconds off the clock.
That was the defining moment of the game, and Kansas State played from behind until the final whistle. Oregon showed up to play, and the most impressive part was the defense. Oregon's defense is either really good, or the Kansas State Wildcats really stink at putting together a set of plans to win a game.
Considering Kansas State entered this game 11-1 as champion of the Big 12, that's good enough to prove that Oregon's defense is legitimate by anyone's standards. Sure, the Ducks might have problems with an SEC defense, but the Ducks were supposed to have trouble with a Big 12 defense.
Here's a question for you: What if the Ducks really did have trouble with Kansas State, and they're really better than they were on Jan. 3?
Win the Day!
Click through the show to see Oregon's complete postgame grades for the excellent performance they used to trounce the Kansas State Wildcats.
Overall Grade: A
Marcus Mariota, the redshirt freshman from Honolulu, Hawaii, delivered a performance worthy of the 2014 playoff system. He picked Kansas State's defense apart through the air, and he crushed them with his legs when it mattered. Again, this kid is a redshirt freshman.
Marcus Mariota passing: 12-of-24 for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Marcus Mariota rushing: eight carries for 64 yards and one touchdown.
Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP: Marcus Mariota
Mariota didn't have a statistically stellar game, but he certainly had a knack for executing plays well after they broke down. Oregon offered this guy a scholarship in the same year that the Ducks offered Johnny Manziel. Tonight, if you hadn't already noticed, you saw exactly what Oregon saw in Mariota during the recruiting phase of his game.
How well do you have to do to earn an “A” while only completing 50 percent of your passes? Well, three touchdowns and an 18-point victory over the champion of a major BCS-AQ conference will do it.
Overall Grade: A
Oregon's rushing attack produced 218 yards on just 45 attempts for an average of 4.8 yards per carry. Kenjon Barner absolutely obliterated the Kansas State defense as the go-to running back.
No matter what the Wildcats threw at him on the line of scrimmage, he found a way to get through. If the Wildcats stopped him at all, it was mostly in the backfield. Once he got to the line, he was heading for the secondary with rare exception.
De'Anthony Thomas was the only other major contributor to the run game outside Barner and Marcus Mariota, and he did all right. He was far more effective in the receiving game, and he was the team's receiving leader.
Thomas' touchdown catch of 23 yards is far less impressive as a statistic than it was as a highlight. Thomas dragged three Kansas State defenders over the goal line from Timbuktu and scored the touchdown while lying on top of one of them. He willed that score to happen, and it put the Ducks up 15-0 at the time.
His other touchdown will be covered in the “Special Teams” slide later in the show.
Kenjon Barner rushing: 30 carries for 143 yards with a long of 19.
Kenjon Barner receiving: one 24-yard reception for a touchdown.
De'Anthony Thomas rushing: two carries for 15 yards with a long of 14.
De'Anthony Thomas receiving: four receptions for 60 yards and one touchdown.
Overall Grade: A
Outside of the running backs who got in on the action, Oregon brought along a play-making wide receiver to tag the Kansas State defense whenever it was prepared to defend the run. That man was Josh Huff, who may have had few receptions but made them count.
He caught one for a first down, and he caught another for an eight-yard gain on a third-and-12. While Mariota got sacked on the ensuing fourth down, Huff's contribution to the offense was great.
Huff was targeted more than just the three times, but the ones he didn't catch were uncharacteristically off-target. Mariota didn't have his best night against the Wildcats, but that's just a testament to what he's capable of.
Oregon receiving: 12 completions for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Josh Huff: three receptions for 26 yards with a long of 15.
Overall Grade: B
Oregon's offense is simply stacked with talented players. The running backs and wide receivers generally get the glory, but there are heavy contributors all over the field.
Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff gave the star tight end a load of competition, but Colt Lyerla found a way to make the stat sheet in a big way.
Lyerla was an unsung hero, but his numbers will show you that he did more than his fair share of handling the football. He did a great job in the blocking scheme as well. He helped the offensive line pave the way for the tailbacks, and he helped seal the edge throughout the game.
The tight ends hit most of their blocking assignments, but there were instances where they ran by their assignment when the play was going the other way, and Mariota was hit with pressure early. It didn't happen terribly often, but it was enough to ding the grade.
Colt Lyerla: three receptions for 52 yards with a long of 23.
Overall Grade: B
Oregon's offensive line had a black-and-white game. Sometimes, the line was on fire and doing whatever it wanted with the Kansas State front four. Other times, the Wildcats were in the backfield wreaking havoc on the Ducks' timing.
Overall, the offensive line averaged out to a "B," but the inconsistency brought the grade down a bit. You need to have an offensive line you can count on, not one that's quite so hot-and-cold. Considering they were facing the defensive front of the reigning Big 12 champion, the performance was impressive in spite of the inconsistency.
The domination on the clock-eating drive in the fourth quarter earned the line the “plus” to go with that solid grade.
Overall Grade: A
The defensive line helped stifle the Kansas State Wildcats to just 132 rushing yards on the night. K-State averaged 199.2 rushing yards per game for the season. The defensive line owned Kansas State for almost 60 minutes, and the longest run of the game was for 16 yards.
The line got pressure on Collin Klein and held him to 30 yards on 13 attempts for an average of 2.3 yards-per-carry. Coming into the game, Klein had 890 yards on 190 attempts for a 4.6 yards-per-carry average.
The line held him to exactly half his usual production, and containing him was the key to victory for the Ducks. If not for the few breakdowns on the line, this would have been an “A+.”
Overall Grade: A-
The linebackers cleaned up, and they were the highlight of the game for anyone not expecting Oregon to bring defense. The linebackers consistently tied up the loose ends that trickled out of the backfield. Kansas State went 7-of-15 on third down, and the linebackers were the biggest part of that success.
Thanks to the linebackers, the defensive secondary could stay energized. The secondary didn't have a lot of mop-up duty to do, and they got to lock down the deep parts of the field to hold Kansas State from making this a shootout.
Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP: Michael Clay (His defensive stats were incomplete on ESPN as of 3:00 a.m. ET, and this slide will be updated when his stats are current.)
Overall Grade: A-
The secondary kept up with Kansas State's receivers all night long. Kansas State averages 212.1 passing yards per game, and Oregon held them to only 151. Oregon's secondary gave up only one play of over 20 yards, and that was a 21-yard Collin Klein pass to senior K-State wide receiver Chris Harper. That was simply an experienced pair of players making a big play.
The Oregon defensive backs had many more big plays than K-State's offense did. Brian Jackson knocked a touchdown pass from Angelo Pease out of the hands of Chris Harper. The other highlight-worthy play was Erick Dargan's 33-yard interception return of Collin Klein's desperation pass with 2:27 to go in the game. That iced the game for Oregon.
Overall Grade: B-
Special teams had an average game with the exception of one play. De'Anthony Thomas ran the opening kickoff back 94 yards for the game's first score. It took just 12 seconds, and it is the fastest score of the postseason. (The previous fastest was Louisville's pick-six against Florida on the first play of the game to put the Cardinals up 7-0 with only 15 seconds off the clock.)
De'Anthony Thomas: “A+” for his 94-yard kickoff return and second kickoff return of 36 yards.
Keanon Lowe: "A" for his 35-yard punt return.
Alejandro Maldonado: "A-" for his two field goals and 2-of-3 PAT's
The rest of the special-teams unit gets dinged for allowing an average of 29.3 yards per kickoff return, but gains some major points for only allowing a total of eight punt-return yards on three punts.
The situational had at least one bad play for each good play, but they didn't allow a return for a score. From flashes of brilliance to moments of horror, this unit played hot-and-cold for a perfect “C.”
Overall Grade: A
The coaching was top-notch for three of the four quarters, but that quarter yielded just 10 points to the Wildcats. The Ducks scored seven of their own in that quarter, so the worst performance by the coaches only cost Oregon three points on the board.
Chip Kelly called plays to perfection in the first, third and fourth quarters to carry the Ducks to a 35-17 victory over the Big 12-champion Kansas State Wildcats. Oregon was light-years ahead of Kansas State in terms of play-calling in those quarters, and had Kansas State on its heels for the majority of the game.
Kelly called passes, runs, trick plays and two-point conversions exceptionally well throughout the game, and there was only one boneheaded call in the entire game. That came in the second quarter, when Oregon faced a fourth-and-four directly after a third-and-seven.
The passing game was working well, and the eight yards that Oregon gained on the previous play was a three-yard pass. Kansas State had been stout against the run so far in the game, and Kelly called a fake punt. The Wildcats were lined up, and they had nobody between the returners and the nine men on the line.
A simple route would have burned the Wildcats, as they were set up to pressure the kicker an return the ball. Kansas State was prepared to block the kick or a runner, and Oregon handed the 'Cats a Jackson Rice rush. K-State stuffed him at the line, and Oregon turned the ball over on downs at the 50.
Kelly quickly rebounded and guided Oregon down-field for a touchdown in 46 seconds on the next drive to end the first half. After halftime, Kelly was ready for anything Bill Snyder could throw at him.
Kelly called everything from a 16-yard pass to a three-yard run in order to keep Oregon in front of Klein and company. Late in the game, when Oregon was up by 15 in the fourth quarter, Kelly shocked everyone by running the clock down 4:47 on a nine-rushing-play field-goal drive to crush Kansas State's hopes of a comeback.
Kelly coached a heck of a game, and his players executed at a high level for the entire game. Oregon won the day like a boss.