SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. The Fiesta Bowl will be a battle of turnover margin kings, with Kansas State ranking first in the country (plus-21) and Oregon fourth (plus-19).
The Ducks are tied for the national lead with 38 turnovers generated (24 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries), but Kansas State has only 10 turnovers (7 interceptions, 3 lost fumbles).
"We work on it, but it doesn't necessarily mean we're going to get them," UO defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti says, of turnovers. "We have a practice period every day, for three to four minutes, where we're working on some form of turnover, whether it's tip drill, strip drill, scoop and score on fumbles, interception drill, pursuit drill. We have 'country' and 'city' fumbles (country where it's wide-open spaces, where you scoop and score; the city, you dive on it, among a lot of people).
"Then, in practice team drill, we're trying to strip it out of the running back's hands. And, I think our guys have pretty good hands on the back end; when it's touched our hands, I can't remember that we've dropped any (interceptions)."
Aliotti says he'd like to see the turnover number be pushed past 40 in Thursday's 5:30 p.m. PT Fiesta Bowl at Glendale, Ariz. "I'm shooting for 42," he says. "Not disrespecting anybody. It'd go a long way (toward winning) if we can get three or four turnovers."
But, K-State has been very secure with the ball. Three fumbles lost?
"That's incredible to me," Aliotti says.
And, Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein throwing only seven interceptions shows that "he's not forcing throws," Aliotti says. "If he doesn't have a throw, he throws the ball away or eats it and runs."