Oregon rushing offense vs. K-State rushing defense
Prolific, fast, multi-dimensional, talented, strong and schematically gifted are just a few of the many adjectives that have been used throughout the season to describe Oregon’s offense.
With a rushing offense that ranks third in the country statistically, the Ducks will offer K-State its biggest challenge of the season. Led by senior running back Kenjon Barner and sophomore running back DeAnthony Thomas, Oregon has dismantled a number of defensive units this season with an average of just over six yards per carry. Throw in redshirt freshman and first-year starting quarterback Marcus Mariota and you have quite possibly the strongest offensive trio in the country. Offensively the Ducks are not a team of great patience, and they will try to hit hard as quickly as possible.
With an experienced front seven, K-State has been able to play the run as well as anybody in the Big 12 Conference. This offensive unit of Oregon’s will present a great challenge, but allowing Oregon to run the ball comfortably will cause a long day for K-State.
Oregon passing offense vs. K-State passing defense
Mariota has impressed many this season with his composure and ability to lead Oregon’s offense. Marks of 30 touchdown passes and just six interceptions are also impressive. The freshman signal caller has completed 218 out of his 312 pass attempts this season for 2,511 yards. The Ducks have three receivers who have surpassed the 300-yard mark, but overall they have a well-balanced receiving unit. Junior wide receiver Josh Huff leads the team with 467 receiving yards and seven touchdown receptions.
K-State’s ability to put Oregon in third-and-long situations will be absolutely crucial. Third-and-shorts will play exactly into the Ducks’ hands and will open more of the playbook than what the Wildcats want to see. Senior cornerbacks Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman are going to be very important pieces for K-State to pull off the victory. K-State will need to stay in between the tackles and contain the edges on the runs, forcing Mariota to throw out of the pocket.
K-State rushing offense vs. Oregon rushing defense
Time of possession will be K-State’s greatest weapon and asset against the Duck defense. The longer the Oregon offense finds itself on the sideline, the better. Coming off of one his strongest rushing performances, senior quarterback Collin Klein will need to establish K-State’s slower tempo early and often.
Along with junior John Hubert and senior Angelo Pease, the trio will be as strong of an offensive unit that Oregon has seen this season. The Ducks rank 26th in the country in points against, giving up an average of 22 points per game. As a unit, Oregon has given up 146 yards per game which puts them 46th in the FBS rankings.
K-State passing offense vs. Oregon passing defense
K-State’s ability to throw screen passes and short slant patterns has been very effective this season. Being able to establish the run and the shorter passes will play right into the Wildcats’ hands. Oregon is built both offensively and defensively to play up-tempo and K-State should be able to frustrate the Duck defense.
Expect to see K-State senior wide receiver Chris Harper make big performances. Whether statistically or blocking on the run, Harper will look to play big against his first school of choice. Sophomore wide receiver Tyler Lockett has built back from an ankle injury and his speed on the edge will be needed to exploit the Ducks’ secondary.
The Wildcats’ ability to make their presence known through special teams will be imperative. Senior punter Ryan Doerr has consistently given the Wildcats an edge in punting and placekicker Anthony Cantele has delivered in his senior campaign. Oregon ranks 58th in kickoff coverage, and against the Wildcats, the Ducks will have to watch out for one of the nation’s more dangerous return duos in Lockett and junior wide receiver Tramaine Thompson.
Prediction: K-State 49, Oregon 38
K-State’s ability to run the ball and melt the clock will be deciding factors in giving the Wildcats the victory in Glendale, Ariz. Although very talented, the Ducks haven’t seen many defenses that can weather the storm that is their offense. The speed of senior linebackers Justin Tuggle and Arthur Brown and senior defensive ends Adam Davis and Meshak Williams up front will be crucial in limiting the Ducks offensively. The Wildcats will force two fumbles and capitalize on each. Along with two big plays by special teams, K-State will get the victory.