Thursday, January 3, 2013

Empirical Magazine: Fiesta Bowl Preview

Duck's Fly South to Clash Against Kline and the 'Cats
Nick Dobis

The eyes of the Pacific Northwest, along with many across the nation, will be set on tonight’s duel in the Arizona desert between the Oregon Ducks and Kansas State Wildcats. This bout between two offensive heavyweights was at one point set to decide this year’s national champion, were it not for the fateful evening of November 17, 2012 when the Ducks ran into a defensive buzz saw against the eventual Rose bowl champion Stanford, and the Wildcats were routed by Baylor 52-24.
The single blemish on their records allowed fellow one loss Alabama to sneak into the title game, but this Fiesta Bowl may be THE bowl college football fans will be talking about until teams strap the pads on again next fall. The hype has centered on the contradicting, yet highly effective styles of offenses. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and K-State Quarterback Colin Kline, a Heisman Trophy Finalist, have combined for 5,001 passing yards, 1,580 rushing yards, 71 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions.
How these quarterbacks orchestrate their offenses will be pivotal to their team’s success. Kline will look to put the game clock into a meat grinder, while Mariota will seek to set Oregon’s offense on its usual dizzying pace. But both teams will be fielding underrated defenses against each other, which may very well postpone the points early in the ball game. The Fiesta Bowl X-factor may very well be Oregon’s DeAnthony Thomas, who always seems to save his best stuff for the national limelight. Thomas introduced himself to the nation after torching the Wisconsin Badgers in last year’s Rose Bowl, going 155 yards and two touchdowns after two, yes, two touches.

No matter the outcome of tonight’s Fiesta Bowl, the biggest question may be the future of Oregon’s head coach Chip Kelly. His phone has been ringing early and often this week from NFL General Managers after the great head coaching purge earlier on Monday. Win or lose, Kelly will have to decide in the coming weeks whether to seek the green pastures of the NFL, or lead the Green and Yellow in the hunt of reclaiming the Pac-12 title and garnering another BCS appearance next season.

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