Just about a month ago, a mini-controversy bubbled up surrounding a home-and-home series between the Oregon Ducks and Kansas State Wildcats that never happened. When both teams were part of three teams vying for two spots in the national title, the game was lauded as a missed opportunity to clear up the national title picture. While neither club finished the season in the top two spots of the BCS, fans will finally get to see this showdown as Oregon and K-State square off in the Fiesta Bowl.
The original meeting between these two teams fell apart after Oregon accepted a bid last year to play the LSU Tigers in Cowboys Stadium and the Wildcats weren’t able to reschedule them. It was a lost opportunity to see two of college football’s best teams settle it on the field that has luckily been given new life. It isn’t for the BCS National Championship, but it looks to be the best non-title bowl game on the docket this season.
For Oregon, who was knocked all season for playing a “soft” schedule, it’s an opportunity to win their second straight BCS bowl game against the Big 12 Champions. This will be their fourth straight BCS bowl under head coach Chip Kelly, who has a record of 1-2 in bowl games since becoming the head coach in 2009. The Ducks will represent the Pac 12 as an at-large pick for the BCS.
Kansas State makes their first appearance in a BCS bowl since the 2004 Fiesta Bowl. K-State capped a very successful 2012 campaign with an 11-1 record, winning a share of the Big 12 title and even rising as far as No. 1 in the BCS before stumbling late in the season. Bill Snyder returns the Wildcats to the major bowl circuit after their nine-year drought, further cementing his legacy in Manhattan as the greatest Kansas State football coach in the program’s history.
There should be plenty of offense in this showdown, as the Ducks bring in the No. 2 rated scoring offense, averaging 50.8 points per game, while Kansas State ranks No. 10, averaging 40.7 points per game. Both sides are led by Heisman Trophy hopefuls, with the Ducks’ Kenjon Barner leading the rushing attack for Oregon and Collin Klein putting the offense on his back for K-State.
It will be a meeting of similar styles, both teams using effective running games to rack up points. Oregon, however, likes to do it in a hurry, busting open the game with big gains and no-huddle drives. Kansas State likes to control the clock with their offense, methodically plodding down the field before punching it in for six. It will be a battle to see which team can impose their tempo on the other.
No matter how the game turns out, the real winners of this matchup are college football fans. Finally, two of college football’s premier teams that narrowly avoided playing each other earlier this season get together to face off in arguably the second best bowl game of the season. It will surely be must-see TV.