PHOENIX — It’s easy to turn this year’s Fiesta Bowl into a simplified battle of new-school versus old-school.
From the uniforms to the playbook, everything about Oregon screams innovation. Kansas State, on the other hand, thrives on tradition and convention. But ending the analysis between the teams there could be dangerously lazy, according to Wildcats quarterback and Heisman finalist Collin Klein.
“When you break it down a little deeper,” Klein said, “I think there’s so many similarities between us and Oregon that maybe don’t get talked about as much.”
For starters, the two high-powered offenses, while different in scheme, are both in the top ten in the nation for scoring — Kansas State at No. 9 with 40.7 and Oregon at No. 2 with 50.8. The Ducks’ and Wildcats’ respective defenses are also two of the most opportunistic in the country. K-State leads the nation with a turnover margin of 1.75. Just behind them at No. 3 sits Oregon at 1.58.
Off the field, it became apparent at Media Day both teams are focused and disciplined. Just getting Klein to go off script from “The Future NFLer’s Guide to Sound Bites” might be harder than tackling him.
“We truly have an amazing group of guys,” Klein said for the umpteenth time Monday, always emphasizing the team — we, us, ours. “We don’t have to do much to keep everybody locked in.”
Senior cornerback Nigel Malone, consistently voted by the Ducks’ players as one of K-State’s most dangerous defensive threat, also drew similarities between the two teams, especially at quarterback. Klein and fellow dual-threat QB Marcus Mariota both have thrown for more than 2,400 yards and ran for at least another 650.
“Watching (Mariota) on tape, he conducts that offense well,” Malone said. “He’s definitely done a great job managing it. … We’re going to have our hands full.”
Another stud on defense for K-State, NFL-bound senior Arthur Brown, agrees.
“Like us, they possess a lot of great athletes,” Brown said. “It’s scary to see just how many weapons they have. Their offense as a whole, how dynamic they are, that poses the greatest challenge to us.”
So Kansas State sees a little of themselves in Oregon — and they didn’t even need to look in the Ducks’ flashy mirrored helmets to do it.