The Eagle’s Kellis Robinett and The Oregonian’s Aaron Fentress continue a 10-part series comparing Oregon and Kansas State ahead of Thursday’s Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. on ESPN, Ch. 32. Go to Kansas.com/wildcats for past matchups.
Starters: Cornelius Lucas, LT, jr., 6-9, 324 (New Orleans); Boston Stiverson, LG, fr., 6-4, 312 (Andover); B.J. Finney, C, so., 6-4, 303 (Andale); Keenan Taylor, RG, jr., 6-4, 290, (Tulsa); Tavon Rooks, RT, jr., 6-5, 272 (Randallstown, Md.).
Stats: K-State’s offensive line helped the Wildcats average more than 200 rushing yards while also protecting Collin Klein when he dropped back to pass. He was sacked 12 times.
Buzz: The Wildcats struggled up front near the end of the season, but had a nice bounce-back effort against Texas. Early in the season, K-State’s offensive line was arguably best in the Big 12. Despite injuries, it opened up holes and protected Klein in the pocket. Any K-State lineman is a threat to pull on any play, making the Wildcats’ rushing attack harder to stop.
Starters: Taylor Hart, DE, jr., 6-6, 292 (Tualatin, Ore.); Isaac Remington, DT, sr., 6-4, 301 (Queen Creek, Ariz.); Ricky Heimuli, DT, jr., 6-4, 305 (Glendale, Utah); Dion Jordan, DE, sr., 6-7, 243 (Chandler, Ariz.).
Stats: Hart finished eighth in the Pac-12 in sacks (8) and had 10 tackles for loss. Jordan, named All-Pac-12, ranked 19th with 10 1/2 tackles for loss and forced three fumbles.
Buzz: Oregon rotates its defensive linemen in order to remain fresh so the depth here is great. Freshmen Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner have started games and received extensive playing time as backups. Injuries to regulars forced freshman Alex Balducci into playing time late in the season. Sophomore Tony Washington has been in the rotation all season. Jordan is a hybrid defensive end/linebacker who could be a first-round pick next year.
The Eagle’s Kellis Robinett says
Edge to K-State, which has more size up front than Oregon and should be able to block the Ducks’ pass rush more easily than Arkansas a year ago.
The Oregonian’s Aaron Fentress says
Edge to Oregon. Kansas State has some big bodies upfront but so does Oregon. The Ducks’ depth and speed can become a problem for opponents.