Oregon Ducks Football: Players Key to Fiesta Bowl Victory over Kansas State

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2012

CORVALLIS, OR - NOVEMBER 24: Running back De'Anthony Thomas #6 of the Oregon Ducks walks off the field after the game against the Oregon State Beavers on November 24, 2012 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon. Oregon won the game 48-24. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

This year's Fiesta Bowl should have every college football fan jumping for joy. The Oregon Ducks and the Kansas State Wildcats are going to put on a show.

By now, all eyes should be on Oregon whenever it steps on the field. The Ducks offense is almost always a guarantee to turn in a dynamic performance, ripping off big play after big play.

But don't expect Kansas State to roll over against the Ducks' frenetic pace. Bill Snyder's team will come to play, and a few players will be key for Oregon if it wants to come away with a victory.

Let's take a look.

Dion Jordan

Jordan is a freaky athlete. He's a definite candidate to go in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft, simply because of his 6'7'', 241-pound frame as a defensive end.

Don't let Jordan's numbers fool you. He only has five sacks on the season, but he's always doing something. The only thing that his sacks show you is that he's not your traditional defensive end.

Jordan can drop into coverage if he wants or chase a ball-carrier down from behind. He had 44 tackles on the season, and they came in all different areas of the field.

Oregon's defense struggles at times, but Jordan is one player who is capable of going toe to toe with Collin Klein and the Wildcats offense. He could be stronger at the point of attack, but his quickness and length make him a matchup nightmare for offensive lineman.

De'Anthony Thomas

Thomas is the Ducks' jack-of-all-trades, even if Kenjon Barner's presence in the backfield leaves him with nothing to do at times.

He has 90 carries for 686 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground this season to go with nearly 400 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. He's also taken a punt to the house.

Thomas defines Oregon's playing style to me. He's undersized, but he's simply devastating in the open field. When you put the ball in his hands, no matter where he is, he's capable of taking the ball all the way for a touchdown.

Kansas State is very well coached. It brings a solid game plan to every contest, but Thomas isn't a guy who you can prepare for. He lines up all over the field, and he's equally dangerous at each spot.

If Thomas gets a fair amount of touches, look for him to make at least one big play in his team's final game of the season.

Josh Huff

The Ducks don't rely on their passing attack to win games, but someone has to keep the offense balanced alongside quarterback Marcus Mariota.

When it's not Thomas, it's Huff. He's an underrated downfield target, even though he's only 5'11''. Mariota loves to dial him up, especially when the defense would least expect it.

Huff has 29 catches for 467 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He's averaging over 16 yards per catch, which showcases his big-play ability. Even if he doesn't have to use it often, it's still an important element to have.

The Ducks will be facing a tough, resilient Wildcats defense. What the Ducks have in speed, Kansas State has in determination. Don't be surprised if Oregon isn't able to run amok like it's used to.

That's where Huff comes in, and he's capable of delivering a big game.


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