2013 Fiesta Bowl Preview

January 3, 2013

Clearly, the underdog can play.

Louisville gave the SEC a taste of its own medicine on Wednesday night in the Mercedes Benz Superdome, beating the Florida Gators 33-23 to become the 2013 Sugar Bowl Champions. It was the largest Vegas upset in the history of the BCS.

Unless you’re an SEC fan, this was a fun game to watch because the Cardinals really had Florida by the throat for much of the second half.

As much as the Big East gets knocked for its poor play, the conference has played fairly well in its biggest games. After Louisville’s win, the Big East is 5-3 in BCS bowl games all-time.

Only Kevin Cox (who was a guest prognosticator during the regular season) predicted that the Cardinals would win the Sugar Bowl in my Bowl Mania group, which meant that I am still clinging to my three point lead in the standings. However, I lost 12 more points with Florida’s loss than the second place entry did.

Here is the preview for the game taking place on January 3rd.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Thursday, 8:30 PM ET)

#4 Oregon vs. #5 Kansas State

In mid-November, this is the matchup that many thought would constitute the national championship game. Instead, both teams lost on November 17th, creating a full-blown BCS mess and squashing the Heisman hopes of Kansas State’s Colin Klein. Now, we are left with a very interesting Fiesta Bowl in which offense will be king.

Under normal circumstances, Oregon should be fairly heavily favored in this game. The Ducks didn’t have much trouble with anyone on their schedule this season except Stanford, which proved to be one of the better teams in the nation near the end of the year. However, Oregon could come out flat in this game, and the rumors swirling about Chip Kelly’s possible departure could hurt the overall focus as well. The Ducks are quicker than Kansas State, but the Wildcats play a physical style of defense, much like the kind that LSU played in the 2011 season opener when the Tigers beat Oregon 40-27. The Ducks won’t simply be able to outscore the Wildcats, so it is absolutely necessary that Chip Kelly’s defense plays well in this game. If the offense can wear down Kansas State’s defense with the up-tempo style, the Ducks will win.

Not many people are arguing that Kansas State should have had a shot at the national title game after its blowout loss to Baylor, but like Oregon, the Wildcats’ only loss this season came against one of the hotter teams in the nation at the end of the season. Kansas State’s defensive issues were on full display on November 17th, and it is imperative that Bill Snyder’s team used the six weeks off to prepare for yet another up-tempo offense. Slowing down the Ducks may not be possible, but limiting big gains and punishing ball carriers is definitely possible. The Wildcats will have to play like bullies to win this game despite the fact that they are the underdogs.

This game shouldn’t be one-sided, and I think that Louisville proved that the underdog can win in big games. But I also think that Oregon almost negates the advantage Kansas State normally has by being so well coached. Chip Kelly knows what he is doing in these BCS games, and probably hasn’t even mentioned his plans for the future to his team. The Ducks will be ready to play, and I have them for 31 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 38-30 Oregon

– K. Becks

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