Less than a month ago, Oregon and Kansas State seemed on track for a matchup in Miami. But a disappointing loss for each team sent them to the desert instead. While supporters in Eugene and the Little Apple may lament the missed opportunities, neutral football fans are delighted to see such a marquee Fiesta Bowl matchup in a bowl season that has delivered too few games of this caliber.
"This game could have been for the national championship," Oregon linebacker Boseko Lokombo told reporters ahead of the game. "A couple weeks ago, that's where we were both headed."
The 11-1 Oregon Ducks take on the 11-1 Kansas State Wildcats in Phoenix, Ariz. and it's not just their records -- and the timing of their losses -- that are similar. Both teams have impressive offenses which include a Heisman contender (although only Kansas State's guy was invited to New York). Oregon averages 50.8 points per game. Kansas State averages 40.7. Oregon allows 22 points scored per game. Kansas State allows an average of 21.1.
While Oregon has plenty of dynamic playmakers on offense in Marcus Mariota and Kenjon Barner, Kansas State has powerful dual-threat quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein. The senior out of Loveland, Colo. threw for 15 touchdowns, while running for 22 and racking up 3,380 total yards.
On the other side of the field, there's clearly a reason why Ducks coach Chip Kelly has garnered so much interest from NFL teams over the last few years. For the third straight year, Oregon's offense is in the top three in the nation in points scored per game. This year, the Ducks finished fourth in total yards per game, second in rushing yards per game and second in total points scored.
Will Kelly be able to put the swirling NFL rumors aside and lead his Ducks to a second straight BCS bowl win? Or will Klein and the Wildcats pull off the upset?
Scroll down for live updates.
|@ Jason1Goff : Chip Kelly...an under .500 career record awaits you in the NFL.|
|@ hardwoodhype : Chip's gotta go for this TD as a farewell gift to OU fans, right?|
|@ EyeOnCFB : And Klein shows why the Wildcats haven't made more of an effort to go deep, as Oregon DB Dargan picks him off downfield.|
Klein drops back and launches a pass deep down the left side but it gets INTERCEPTED by Oregon's Erick Dargan.
|@ Alex_Flanagan : Not often is an oregon game boring, If if weren't for brad Nessler and the one point safety, I might have fallen asleep a while ago.|
Lockett takes the kick to the 37-yard line.
|@ BR_CFB : Chip Kelly will now spend the final 2:27 deciding which office at University of Phoenix Stadium will be his starting tomorrow.|
Maldonoto kicks a 23-yard field goal to make it 35-17 OREGON with 2:27 left.
Barner gets the call again and runs up the middle for about 2 yards. Ball is on the 6-yard line. 2:30 remaining. Kansas State calls timeout.
Barner slips this time a few yards shy of the line of scrimmage for a loss of 2. 3:10 left in the game.
Barner runs up the middle again for about 6 yards. Ball is inside K-State's 10-yard line.
Barner breaks free on the left side and picks up 10 yards. He tried to stay inbounds and although it didn't look like it, the refs ruled that he did. Clock keeps ticking.
Barner runs up the middle again and steamrolls a defender for a 5-yard gain.
Oregon goes into the hurry-up and gives it to Barner again, who runs up the middle for about 6 yards.
Barner bursts through a hole up the middle and nearly breaks free for a touchdown but settled for a 15-yard gain.
Barner runs straight but can't find any running room. So he bounced to the outside and picked up 3 yards and a first down.
Barner runs left and cuts upfield and gains about 7 yards.
Bralon Addison gets hit by his own man, falls and still makes the fair catch. Ball at Oregon's 37.
Klein throws on the run again but it goes in and out of the hands of Thompson on the left sideline. Kansas State has to punt again.
Klein finds Lockett on a crossing route that goes for only about 3 more yards. K-State hasn't been able to go down field at all.
Klein tries running up the middle but gets tripped up after 3 yards. K-State taking a little too much time. 8:40 left in the game.
False start on K-State.
Pease takes the handoff and runs right, finds a big hole and gets 14 yards.
Klein scrambles to his left and throws to Lockett on the run for 6 yards.
|@ davidubben : Offense has had issues, but man, give the K-State D some credit tonight. Great job reeling in Barner/Thomas on the edges.|
An illegal block in the back penalty is called so K-State gets it at their own 8.
Mariota throws a bad incomplete pass that stops the clock and gives K-State the ball back. Do the Wildcats have a comeback in them?
Barner runs up the middle for 5 yards. 10:30 remaining.