When looking at the Oregon offense, there is no denying that they are the most explosive offense in the country. With running backs Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas in the backfield, big plays are a familiar sight for the Oregon offense.
In their only loss to Stanford on Nov. 17, however, the Cardinal were able to control the game and minimize these big plays. When comparing the Cardinal to the Ducks Fiesta Bowl opponent, K-State, the two teams are very similar, which is great sign for the Wildcats.
The first similarity is a mobile quarterback. As effective as Kevin Hogan was for the Cardinal, the Ducks have not seen a quarterback that presents the challenges that K-State senior quarterback Collin Klein does.
Standing at 6′ 5″and 226 lbs., Klein creates a nightmare for opponents because of his ability to both throw and run the ball. He became the first quarterback in a BCS Automatic Qualifying conference to ever have consecutive seasons of at least 20 rushing and 10 passing touchdowns.
This season, he became even better throwing the ball, improving his percentage completion by eight percent, and teamed up with sophomore wide receiver Tyler Lockett for numerous big plays down the field.
As great as Klein has been throwing the ball this season, the Wildcats bread-and-butter, much like Stanford’s, is to pound the rock with a powerful-rushing attack.
In the victory 17-14 over Oregon, junior running back Stepfan Taylor had a big game, rushing for 161 yards and helping keep that explosive Duck offensive attack off the field. The Wildcats also have a great running back in junior John Hubert, who happens to be the same number 33, as the aforementioned Taylor.
Hubert has complemented Klein beautifully on the season, rushing for 892 yards and 15 touchdowns. While Klein is the big powerful runner, Hubert is more the elusive, make-people-miss kind of guy.
For Oregon fans that haven’t seen him play, he plays very similar to another K-State great running back, Darren Sproles. While the Ducks have been much better this season on defense, lets be honest folks, they still have their problems stopping teams. Usually the offense is just able to outscore the opponent.
However, the main reason the Cardinal were able to pull the upset, is because of the performance by their defense against the run, another thing the Wildcats do very well.
On the season, the Wildcats have held opponents to only an average of 119 rushing yards per game, which ranks 18th in the country. While looking at their schedule and seeing the 52 points put up by Baylor, this has to have the Ducks licking their chops. However, there was a person missing from that game who will be back with vengeance.
In that loss to Baylor, the Wildcats were without junior safety Ty Zimmerman, an All-American candidate. Without him, the Wildcats lost one of their top leaders, and ran into a buzz saw in Waco, Tex. He is a difference maker on the defensive side of the ball, and gives the Wildcats a guy that can change the game from the secondary.
I completely understand that the Oregon defense has suffered a multitude of injuries on the defensive side of the ball. The Wildcats, however, have proven all year that when Zimmerman is on the field, they can be very tough to score on.
So there you have it, the recipe for the victory that the Cardinal used, the Wildcats just happen to have all of the same ingredients.
With Bill Snyder at the helm, the Wildcats will be able to do the exact same thing, pulling out a 38-34 victory, with Klein showing Heisman voters who the real winner should have been.