As expected last nights Sugar Bowl was a rout. However, what wasn’t expected was Louisville being the ones to put the beat down on Florida. Louisville dominated the game from the start and made the Gators look really bad. Tonight’s Fiesta Bowl between Oregon and Kansas State is the most anticipated of the BCS bowls outside of the national championship game. Both these teams were in contention all year for a national title game appearance. After Florida’s embarrassing performance last night, this game pits the two best teams in the country besides Alabama and Notre Dame.
#4 Oregon (11-1) vs. #5 Kansas State (11-1), in Tempe, Arizona
Both of these teams are mostly known for their amazing offenses. The Ducks quick fire offense led by freshman QB Marcus Mariota (30 TDs, 6 INTs), and RB Kenjon Barner (1,624 yards rushing, 21 TDs), and dual threat RB De’Anthony Thomas (686 yards rushing, 11 TDs) averaged an astounding 50.8 points per game. The Wildcats weren’t too far behind them, averaging 40.7 points per game led by Heisman finalist QB Colin Klein. Klein isn’t known for his passing prowess with just 15 TDs versus 7 INTs, but he is an elite runner. He finished second on the Wildcats with 890 yards rushing and led the team with 22 rushing TDs. Klein gets all the pub but RB John Hubert led the Wildcats with 892 yards rushing this season. So as you can see, plenty of offensive firepower. But what often is overlooked with these teams is that they are both pretty good defensively. The Ducks gave up just 22 points per game and were led by their two best defensive players, LB Dion Jordan and CB Ifo Ekpre-Olumu, who has a penchant for forcing fumbles. Kansas State was just a little better, giving up 21.1 points per game this season. Their defense features the Big 12 defensive player of the year and second team All-American, Arthur Brown. The Wildcats were strong against the run most of the season, save for their one loss this year to Baylor. The Bears gashed them on the ground and the Wildcats didn’t know what hit them. Kansas State has to limit Barner and Thomas’ big play abilities to keep Kansas State in this game. Even if they are successful with that, Mariota could gash them through the air. One area I worry about for the Ducks is the distractions that might be caused by their coach Chip Kelly’s name being attached to so many potential NFL openings. The Stanford Cardinal faced the same thing a few years ago with Jim Harbaugh and were fine, so it should be nothing. The Wildcats are coached by one of the best coaches in college football history, Bill Snyder. With him on the sideline, Kansas State has a chance in any game. With two defenses that are pretty evenly matched, I don’t think Kansas State has the offensive firepower to keep up with Oregon. Oregon’s offense was slowed just once this season, in their loss to Stanford. The Wildcats are good on defense, and I don’t think Oregon will hang 50 on them, but I don’t believe they are good enough to keep Oregon under 30. This should be an entertaining game from start to finish, with the Ducks eventually prevailing.
Prediction: Oregon 37, Kansas State 28
Overall Record: 105-25
College Basketball – Top 25
#2 Michigan (13-0, 0-0) at Northwestern (9-4, 0-0), ESPN2, 7:00 PM ET.
Colorado (10-2, 0-0) at #3 Arizona (12-0, 0-0), ESPNU, 8:00 PM ET.
#10 Gonzaga (13-1, 0-0) at Pepperdine (8-5, 0-0), 9:00 PM ET.
San Antonio (26-8) at New York (21-10), 7:30 PM ET.
Minnesota (14-14) at Denver (18-15), 9:00 PM ET. The Nuggets have played twice as many road games as home games thus far. Anyone know the story behind that? They are dominant at home, a team to watch out for.