Fiesta Bowl matchups: When K-State has the ball

01/02/2013 4:00 PM

08/05/2014 10:49 PM

Wildcat running game

John Hubert led the Wildcats with 892 rushing yards this season, but Collin Klein wasn’t far behind with 890. Together, they make up one of the Big 12’s best running duos. Klein keeps the ball for a handful of designed runs, but is also dangerous scrambling for yards on broken pass plays. If they pick up first downs early, K-State will benefit. The Wildcats are best playing from ahead with a solid running attack.

Oregon has two of the best linebackers in school history at linebacker in Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso, who are playing their last game together, and are also the Ducks’ top two leading tacklers. Alonso has the range to make tackles all over the field, but an undisclosed left-hand injury could hamper him.

Wildcat passing game

Klein made tremendous improvement as a passer this season, completing more than 66 percent of his throws and passing for nearly 2,500 yards. He rarely makes mistakes or throws into coverage. His top two receivers are Tyler Lockett and Chris Harper. Lockett is a deep threat Klein likes to hit for big yardage, while Harper is better at gaining chunks of yards with each catch. If they get going, that could open things up for Tramaine Thompson and Curry Sexton.

All-America defensive end Dion Jordan leads the Ducks’ pass-rushing attack and is projected as a first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft. He is difficult to contain, and if he gets to Klein early, it could open up things for fellow defensive end Taylor Hart, who is a load at 6-foot-6 and 292 pounds. All-Pac 12 cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will likely match up with Harper, and has shown a knack for creating turnovers — he has four interceptions and six forced fumbles.

What to watch

K-State’s offensive line was one of the best in the Big 12 this season. Starting tight end Travis Tannahill and fullback Braden Wilson were also honored by the Big 12 as seniors. Snyder likes to use both of them to block next to the offensive line and catch passes. That versatility could be used to K-State’s advantage.

The middle of Oregon’s interior defensive line is probably the weakest part of the Ducks’ defense, and K-State could expose it with plenty of draws from Klein, something he did much more as a junior than as a senior.

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