The Eagle’s Kellis Robinett and The Oregonian’s Aaron Fentress continue a 10-part series comparing Oregon and Kansas State ahead of the Jan. 3 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. on ESPN, Ch. 32. Go to Kansas.com/wildcats for past matchups.
Starters: John Hubert, Jr., 5-7, 191 (Waco, Texas); Angelo Pease, Sr., 5-11, 215 (Cairo, Georgia).
Stats: Hubert rushed for 892 yards and 15 touchdowns on 172 attempts. Pease ran for 286 yards on 53 carries, and he ran for some of that yardage taking snaps out of the wildcat formation.
The buzz: Collin Klein is the main rushing threat in K-State's offense, but Hubert has been steady for two seasons. The small runner breaks tackles with surprising power, and is on his way to a 2,000-yard career. He has dealt with injuries in his two years on the field, which have prevented him from hitting the 1,000-yard mark in a season. Pease can be a nice change of pace back in certain situations, but his blocking and pass-catching abilities leave a lot to be desired.
Starters: Kiko Alonso Sr., ILB, 6-4, 242 (Los Gatos, Calif.); Michael Clay, Sr., ILB, 5-11, 222 (San Jose, Calif.); OLB, Dion Jordan, Sr., 6-7, 243 (Chandler, Ariz.); OLB, Boseko Lokombo, Jr., OLB, 6-3, 233 (Abbotsford, B.C.).
Stats: Alonso ranked second on the team and 12th in the conference with 6.8 tackles per game, led the team and ranked 15th in the conference in tackles for loss with 12 and led the team and ranked tied for fourth in the conference with four interceptions. Clay led the team and ranked fifth in the Pac-12 with 8.4 tackles per game. Jordan ranked 19th in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss with 10 1/2.
The buzz: It’s arguably the most talented group of linebackers Oregon has ever had. Jordan is listed as a defensive end on the depth chart but Oregon plays mostly a 3-4. That gives the Ducks two grossly athletic outside backers in Jordan and Lokombo. Alonso has had a breakthrough season and is headed to the NFL, along with Jordan. Clay, although undersized, is an intelligent playmaker with a nose for the football.
The Oregonian’s Aaron Fentress says
Edge to Oregon. The Ducks are loaded. Jordan could be a first-round pick in 2013. Alonso should go no later than the third round. Lokombo will get drafted in 2014. Only a lack of size will keep Clay from making it in the NFL.
The Eagle’s Kellis Robinett says
Edge to Oregon. K-State's running backs played a lesser role in the offense as the season went along, and Oregon has lots of depth at linebacker.