The Big 12 champion K-State Wildcats went into Glendale, Ariz. looking to win the first BCS bowl game in school history. Unfortunately, a 94-yard kick return by Oregon sophomore running back De’Anthony Thomas was a sign of things to come, as Oregon pulled away for a 35-17 victory in the 2013 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
After the game, a disappointed Collin Klein talked about how proud he was to be a member of the team.
“I’m just so proud to be a part of a team that did that and didn’t allow anyone to tell us how good or bad we were going to be, not to let ourselves tell ourselves how good or bad we could be,” said the senior quarterback Klein. “It’s overshadowed right now, but that is something to hang our hat on. I’m proud to have been a part of it.”
After getting down 15-0, the Wildcats fought back to 15-10 and had the ball inside the Oregon red zone, but had to settle for a 40-yard fiel goal attempt, which kicker Anthony Cantele missed.
Oregon capitalized with a 24-yard touchdown from freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota to senior running back Kenjon Barner to give the Ducks a 22-10 lead going into the half.
Coach Bill Snyder talked after the game about how that changed the momentum in the game.
“I would concur that it had a significant impact on the outcome of the ballgame,” Snyder said. “I think we still felt that we had the appropriate opportunity to finish the ballgame the right way. But it was a big swing. You’re absolutely correct. There’s no guarantee that we would have scored. But the intent there, being fourth down, we’d end up kicking a field goal. No guarantee we would have made that one if we hadn’t gotten a penalty.”
The Oregon defense continued to make things tough on the Wildcats, getting pressure on Klein and not allowing the Wildcats to make any big plays.
A 10-yard pass from Klein to John Hubert gave the Wildcats momentum, followed by a forced three-and-out gave the Wildcats hope, but once again, the Ducks defense stiffened up and did not allow K-State any more offense.
Klein finished his final game with 151 yards and a touchdown, with nearly half of those yards going to senior wide receiver Chris Harper, who had eight catches for 71 yards.
After the game, Harper had nothing but praise for his quarterback.
“He mean everything. He sums up what we are about as a team. We hang our hat on toughness,” said Harper. “Everybody might not see us as the most talented team in America. But we hang our hat on toughness, giving the greatest effort we can do and this dude sums it up to a tee. One of the hardest workers and probably one of the toughest dudes I ever met. He sums it up perfectly.”
For 27 seniors, this was the final game in their K-State career. The team with their 11 victories became the seventh team in school history to win that many games in a single season.