High-powered offenses highlight Fiesta Bowl matchup
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Kansas State and Oregon were in perfect position at the start of Nov. 17, Nos. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings, seemingly on a crash course toward the national championship game.
By day's end, the Wildcats had been run over by Baylor, the Ducks lost a heartbreaker to Stanford and both of their national title hopes were all but gone.
Disappointing? Certainly. Every team goes into the season hoping to play for a national championship and to have it snatched away so late in the season is unquestionably a letdown.
Unlike many teams in college football, Kansas State and Oregon ended up with a nice consolation prize: A trip to the Valley of the Sun to face each in the Fiesta Bowl.
“This game could have been for the national championship,” Oregon linebacker Boseko Lokombo said. “A couple weeks ago, that's where we were both headed.”
Oregon (11-1) is in its fourth straight BCS bowl game under coach Chip Kelly, following a trip to the 2011 BCS championship game and two Rose Bowls, including the program's first win in the Rose Bowl in 95 years last season.
Kansas State (11-1) is in its second resurrection under coach Bill Snyder, who orchestrated one of college football's greatest turnarounds his first stint in the Little Apple, turning a program that had lost more games than any other into a national championship contender.
After a three-year retirement, Snyder again lifted the Wildcats out of the doldrums, leading them to a bowl game his second season, 10 wins a year ago and all the way back to national prominence this season.
This is the Wildcats' 14th bowl appearance under Snyder and with a win over Oregon, they can finish with the first 12-win season in school history.
“Obviously, you can't help as a coach (but) admire what Coach Snyder has done,” Kelly said. “He had an opportunity when he first got to K-State that he created a legacy that I don't think anybody could ever imagine when he first took over that program, what one man could do to a university.”