Subplots emerge for Oregon-Kansas State Fiesta Bowl
They were supposed to meet during the 2012 season. The game was cancelled a few years ago.
They were destined to play in the BCS national championship game. Both teams lost a game late in the season.
But Oregon and Kansas State will finally meet, the Ducks (11-1) accepting an at-large berth in the BCS Fiesta Bowl, where the Wildcats (11-1) landed as Big 12 Conference champions.
The game will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. the site of the BCS title game two seasons ago, when Auburn beat Oregon.
"We're really excited about the matchup with Kansas State," says UO coach Chip Kelly, who watched on television Saturday as K-State beat Texas 42-24 to lock up the Big 12 title. "I'm extremely impressed with them in all three phases," offense with Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Collin Klein, defense with forced turnovers and special teams with good return games.
"Oregon is an amazing program, a wonderful team," K-State coach Bill Snyder says.
On Nov. 17, Baylor blew out Kansas State 52-24, virtually ending the Wildcats' national title hopes. Stanford edged Oregon 17-14 in overtime on the same day, dropping the Ducks in the BCS standings, and Notre Dame (12-0) and Alabama (11-1) won out and made the BCS title game.
But a fourth consecutive BCS appearance won't be a bad consolation prize for the Ducks, who recently played in two Rose Games games as well as the title game.
The Ducks finished fourth and the Wildcats fifth in the BCS standings, behind Notre Dame, Alabama and Florida.
It'll be the first meeting for the teams.
Besides the cancelled 2012 matchup and each spending the season as No. 1-ranked team, the Jan. 3 game has three early subplots:
Klein has accounted for 37 touchdowns 22 rushing while throwing for 2,490 yards and rushing for 890.
The Ducks have their own dual-threat QB in Marcus Mariota (2,511 yards, 30 TD passes and only six interceptions; 690 yards rushing and another four scores; and a TD reception).
The Wildcats will try to prepare for UO's offensive pace.
"They go faster than the speed of light, so to speak," Snyder says, "and do it with tremendous speed, expertise and talent."
Kansas State receiver Chris Harper, a Wichita, Kan. native, transferred from UO after his failed attempt at playing quarterback in 2008, and after moving to receiver. He leads the Wildcats with 50 receptions for 786 yards receiving.
"It has an additional meaning to him," Snyder says, of the UO matchup.
The Ducks, a team that includes 1,624-yard rusher Kenjon Barner, rank second in the country in scoring (50.8 points), third in rushing (323.3 yards) and fourth in total offense (550.1 yards).
The Wildcats rank 10th in scoring (40.7 points), but also 16th in rushing defense (119.2 yards) and 24th in scoring defense (21.1 points).
K-State and Oregon rank first and third, respectively, in turnover margin in the country.
As for tickets: Oregon season-ticket holders and Duck Athletic Fun contributors have until 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3 to retain their priority status to purchase tickets. For the general public, tickets go on sale at 7 p.m. Monday. General public tickets range from $144 to $268, and may be purchased at goducks.com/tickets.