1. The forward pass. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota throws the ball pretty well and Kansas State does not do a good job defending against the pass. The Wildcats rank 90th in the nation in defending the pass and got scorched for more than 300 yards more than once. Watch for Josh Huff to make some big catches. If Marcus can find tight end Colt Lyerla early and often, the Ducks will roll.
2. Turnovers. The secret to K-State’s success this season has been turnovers. The Wildcats lead the nation in turnover margin — they have taken the ball away from opponents 31 times, while only handing it over 10 times. Bad news for the Wildcats: Oregon is almost as good at the turnover game. The Ducks rank third in turnover margin and have taken the ball away as well as anyone in the nation. Holding onto the ball is a key to winning football games, and the Ducks look good if they do not let the Wildcats win big in the turnover game.
3. The Lache effect. Remember Lache Seastrunk? He arrived in Eugene as a celebrated running back recruit and left when he found himself stuck on the depth chart behind Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas. He ended up at Baylor and ran through the Wildcats defense for 185 yards and a touchdown when Baylor crushed K-State this season. If K-State defenders had trouble catching Lache, they are likely to have problems even catching a glimpse of Kenjon and DeAnthony. The K-State defenders are not fast enough to keep up with Oregon’s running game.
4. Been there, done that. Oregon is returning to the stadium where they played in the Fiesta Bowl two years ago. Having been to four consecutive BCS bowls, Oregon is used to the hype of playing in a BCS bowl. K-State has not been to a BCS bowl since 2004. K-State will bring lots of fans to the game, but Oregon will bring the focus needed to win on the big stage.
5. Oregon’s linebackers. Michael Clay, Kiko Alonso and Boseko Lokombo are underrated, experienced, athletic, fast linebackers. K-State quarterback Collin Klein is a veteran, Heisman-finalist quarterback who has hurt teams with his running. At 6 feet 5 inches and 225 pounds, he has run over defenders for 895 yards and 22 touchdowns. Oregon’s linebackers are big and fast enough to shut down Collin’s running, which is a big part of K-State’s offense.
Oregon rolls to a 42-21 victory.