Kansas State will be the underdog when it takes on Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, and it will need to succeed in some key areas of the game in order to pull off an upset.
These two explosive offenses will face off on January 3, and a few individual performances will have a massive impact on the contest.
If three important matchups swing the Wildcats' way, star quarterback Collin Klein will close out his college career with an impressive victory.
Here are the matchups to watch in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl.
DE Meshak Williams vs. Oregon's Offensive Tackles
Oregon ranks second in the nation in both points scored and rushing yards per game. While talented running backs Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas deserve much of the credit for these numbers, the Ducks' offensive line has also been stellar this season.
But Kansas State defensive end Meshak Williams has had a superb season as well. He has racked up 13.5 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks, while earning Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year honors.
When Barner and Thomas get into the open field, they are impossible to catch. For the Wildcats to have any hope of slowing down Oregon's offense, they will need to blow up plays in the backfield.
Williams is the player most capable of doing this, and he will need to win individual battles with Oregon’s tackles in this contest.
DLs Taylor Hart and Dion Jordan vs. Kansas State Offensive Lineman
Running back John Hubert and quarterback Collin Klein both ran for nearly 900 yards this season, and Kansas State’s running game is also elite.
Hubert and Klein run with patience and power, but in order for the Wildcats to keep pace with the Ducks in this game, the offensive lineman will need to deal with Oregon's Taylor Hart and Dion Jordan.
These two players are responsible for 20.5 tackles for a loss and 13 sacks combined. If a Kansas State play gets stopped behind the line of scrimmage, it will almost certainly be one of these two lineman making the tackle.
If the Wildcats offensive line knocks both players on their heels early, the rushing game will be effective, and the Big 12 champs will have a chance to outscore the Ducks in this contest.
QB Collin Klein vs. Oregon Secondary
Ultimately, this game will be won on offense, and the responsibility for the defensive players in this game will be to make a few big plays to give their team a slight edge.
If Williams makes more plays for Kansas State than Hart and Jordan do for Oregon, the Wildcats will have an advantage.
However, this will all be for nothing if KSU turns the ball over too many times. Collin Klein must continue to be flawless with his decision-making and avoid poor throws.
The Ducks have explosive athletes like Ifo Ekpre-Olomu in the secondary. If Klein is errant with any of his passes, it could lead to a costly interception. If the Wildcats lose the turnover battle, they will struggle to win this game.
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