I’m in Arizona with my friend Gary awaiting tonight’s Fiesta Bowl between the Oregon Ducks and the Kansas State Wildcats. We are staying with my wife’s parents John and Mildred. After waking up with Duck Gnome hovering over me begging to go to the game I had a nice breakfast and the four of us sat around and talked about everything but football.
But now it is time to take a look at today’s game. I’m feeling pretty good about the game this evening. This season has gone pretty much like I expected with the exception of the painful overtime loss to Stanford.
In my preseason analysis I predicted that that Marcus Marriota would be turning heads by mid-season. I thought at the time and even more so now that he would likely be the best QB to have played at Oregon by the time he is done.
I also predicted that Oregon would not have a big problem beating USC who was the #1 ranked team at the start of the season. As I expected, Oregon wore them down and won going away in the 2nd half.
Now, for today’s game. Kansas State, like Oregon has shown the ability to score a lot of points. But they do it differently then Oregon who spreads the field and mixes in a variety of passing and running. Kansas State has a Heisman finalist QB in Collin Klein. The important thing to know about Klein is that he is a very potent runner and an average-at-best passer. Oregon has done really well stopping this kind of QB and I expect them to do that today. Jake Locker of Washington was generally contained by Oregon’s defense while at Washington. The other similar QB was Ohio State Quarterback Terelle Pryor. Now Ohio State defeated Oregon in the 2010 Rose Bowl but Pryor had the one and only great passing game of his career. Unless Klein can have a career day passing I expect the Ducks will work to keep him contained in the pocket and force KSU to beat them with passing or with their running backs.
For Oregon they have to avoid turnovers. If the turnover difference is the same between the teams I predict an easy win. This will be Kenjon Barner’s last game as a Duck and I expect it may be a special game for him. Playing behind LaMichael James, Barner never got the recognition he deserved until this year when he was voted 2nd team All-American. If things go well early expect a 200 yard game for Barner.
What to look for.
If Oregon gets out fast and gets a 10-14 point lead it could get ugly when KSU is forced to throw the ball. In this case expect some Oregon interceptions.
If Oregon starts slow, turns over the ball and gets behind it will be a dogfight until the end. But unless Oregon is -2 on turnovers or Klein has a career day passing the ducks win this game.
My prediction: Ducks 50 KSU 31. What is your prediction?