College Football Picks Fiesta Bowl: #5 Kansas State Wildcats vs #4 Oregon Ducks

2013 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Thursday, January 3, 2013, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
#5 Kansas State Wildcats vs #4 Oregon Ducks
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Arizona
Opening Line: Oregon -7 1/2
Current Line: Oregon -8 1/2
Opening Total: 75
Current Total: 75 1/2
Opening Money Line: Oregon -325 / Kansas St +275
Current Money Line: Oregon -350 / Kansas St +290

Oregon is an 8.5 favorite over Kansas St in the Fiesta Bowl Thursday in Glendale, Arizona. Both teams have only one loss on the season.

If not for one fateful night November 17, the Oregon Ducks and Kansas St Wildcats might be playing for the BCS national title instead of in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. However that night in the space of about an hour, then #1 Kansas St lost 52-24 at Baylor and then #2 Oregon lost at 17-14 in overtime at home against Stanford. Both teams would go to finish 11-1. So Notre Dame and Alabama will play for the national title next Monday instead of the Ducks and Wildcats. Oregon and Kansas St have never met on the gridiron before.

Kansas St is 6-9 in Bowl games, and has lost 4 straight. The Wildcats lost to Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl last year 29-16. Oregon is 10-15 in Bowls. The Ducks beat Wisconsin 45-38 in the Rose Bowl last year. Oregon is playing in their fourth straight BCS game.

Kansas St was 8-1 in the Big 12 under coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats tied with Oklahoma for the Big 12 title, but Kansas St beat Oklahoma 24-19 for the tiebreaker. Kansas St has home wins over Missouri St 51-9, Miami-(FL) 52-13, North Texas 35-21, Kansas 56-16, Texas Tech 55-24, Oklahoma St 44-30 and Texas 42-24 to close out the regular season along with additional road wins at, Iowa St 27-21, at West Virginia 55-14 and at TCU 23-10. The Wildcats are 9-2-1 ATS and the total is 7-4.

Kansas St is averaging 410.4 yards per game, including 212.1 passing yards and 198.3 rushing yards per game. The Wildcats are outscoring teams 41-21 this season. K-State is #33 nationally in rushing and #8 in scoring offense. The Wildcats are +21 in turnovers for the season with 10 turnovers. Kansas St is 78/152 on third and fourth down conversions, and 59/68 scoring in the red zone with 43 touchdowns. The Wildcats have only allowed 13 sacks this season and averages 29 penalty yards per game. Kansas St is allowing 374.5 yards per game on defense including 255.2 passing yards and 119.2 rushing yards. Kansas St has struggled to stop the pass, but they are in the top 25 nationally against the run and in points allowed. Wildcat opponents are 77/184 on third and fourth down conversions, and 34/44 scoring in the red zone with 22 touchdowns. K-State has 31 sacks this season and has forced 31 turnovers.The Wildcats have 6 defensive/special teams touchdowns.

Kansas St quarterback Collin Klein has completed 180 of 272 passes (66.2%) for 2,490 yards with 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He is also the second leading rusher with 194 carries, 890 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy but lost to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Klein, a senior, completes a brilliant Kansas State career with this game.

Running back John Hubert has 172 carries, 892 yards, and 15 touchdowns, along with 16 catches for 82 yards. Angelo Pease has 53 carries, for 286 yards, and a receiving touchdown. Back-up quarterback Daniel Sams has 32 carries, 235 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Receiver Chris Harper has 50 catches, 786 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Harper started his career as an Oregon quarterback before transferring to Kansas St. Tyler Lockett has 40 catches, 652 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 2 kickoff returns for touchdowns. Tramaine Thompson has 36 catches, 514 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He also has a punt return for a touchdown.  Travis Tannahill has 22 catches, 279 yards and a touchdown.

Oregon is coached by Chip Kelly. Officials from the Cleveland Browns flew to Arizona Wednesday to interview Kelly for the vacant head coaching position. There is no indication as of yet Kelly will take the job or any other job in the NFL.

The Ducks had won every game by at least 11 points, but the Stanford loss kept them out of the Pac 12 Championship game. They have home wins over Arkansas St 57-34, Fresno St 42-25, Tennessee Tech 63-14, Arizona 49-0, Washington 52-21, and against Colorado 70-14 along with road wins against Washington St 51-26 in Seattle, 43-21 at Arizona St, USC 62-51, Cal 59-17 and Oregon St 48-24. The Ducks are 7-5 ATS and the total is 7-4 this season.

Oregon is averaging 550.1 yards per game, including 226.8 passing yards and 323.2 rushing yards per game. The Ducks are #4 in total offense and #2 in rushing nationally. Oregon is outscoring teams 51-22 this season. The Ducks are #2 in scoring nationally. Oregon is +19 in turnovers, but the Ducks do have 19 turnovers this season. Oregon is averaging 74 penalty yards per game . The Ducks have allowed 18 sacks. Oregon is 105/209 on third and fourth down conversions and 63/70 scoring in the red zone with 58 touchdowns. On defense, Oregon is allowing 381.7 yards per game including 235.7 passing yards and 146 rushing yards. The Ducks have forced 27 sacks and 38 turnovers this season. Oregon opponents are 69/211 on third and fourth down conversions, and 32/48 scoring in the red zone with 23 touchdowns. The Ducks have returned 4 interceptions for touchdowns this season, and also have a punt return for a TD.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has completed 218 of 312 passes (69.9%) for 2,511 yards with 30 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Mariota has also rushed 98 times for 690 yards with 4 touchdowns. He has been sacked 16 times. Mariota even has a touchdown catch. Back-up Bryan Bennett has thrown for 211 yards, with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also has 167 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns.

Running back Kenjon Barner has 248 carries for 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns, along with 19 catches, 232 yards, and a touchdown. De’Anthony Thomas has 90 carries, 686 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also has 41 catches for  385 yards and 4 touchdowns. Thomas also returns kicks and punts, and has 1,856 all-purpose yards with a punt return touchdown. Byron Marshall has 86 carries, 445 yards, and 4 touchdowns.

Receiver Josh Huff has 29 catches, 467 and 7 touchdowns. Tight end Colt Lyerla  has 22 catches, 340 yards, and 6 touchdowns, along with 13 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown. Keanon Lowe has 22 catches, 244 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Bralon Addison has 22 catches, 243 yards, and 3 touchdowns.    Aside from the running backs, Dwayne Stanford and Daryle Hawkins will also get a lot of targets. Hawkins has three touchdown catches. Three Oregon defenders and three offensive linemen are doubtful or out.

Oregon is 7-0 ATS on grass. 5-0 after rushing for more than 200 yards, 6-1 overall, 5-1 after scoring 40 points, after a straight up win and against teams with winning records, 4-1 after a cover and after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 9-4 after accumulating 450 yards or more, 2-5 in non-conference games, and 1-4 in neutral site games.

Kansas St is 3-0-1 ATS after scoring more than 40 points, and on grass, 6-1-1 after a straight up win, 4-1-1 after a cover, 4-1 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 12-3-1 against teams with winning records, 18-7-1 overall, 10-21 in non-conference games, and 0-4 in bowl games.

The consensus is Kansas St won’t be able to handle Oregon’s speed. However, Kansas St has faced such quick teams at Oklahoma, West Virginia, Baylor, Oklahoma St and Texas Tech in the Big 12. Now perhaps none of those teams are quite as fast as Oregon, but I don’t think Kansas St will be caught off guard. The Kelly situation could be a distraction for the Ducks. I think Kansas St has a legitimate shot of pulling off the upset in what should be a shootout.

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