Monthly Archives: December 2012

Fiesta Bowl Countdown: Photos of the Year


Collin Klein looked like a Heisman Trophy finalist as he scored a late touchdown against Texas.


Kansas State had quite the championship celebration after beating Texas.


K-State’s perfect season came to an end at Baylor.
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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: A story about Tostitos chips at the Tostitos bowl game

Tickets in the lower sections of University of Phoenix Stadium should come with a warning at the Fiesta Bowl: Look out for falling chips.

That’s the main thought I took away from the first Fiesta Bowl I attended, the 2000 classic between Nebraska and Tennessee.

That night in Tempe, I watched the Cornhuskers thoroughly outplay the Volunteers. The Associated Press summed up the game like so: “Too much speed, too much strength. Just too much Nebraska.”

But before Nebraska put the finishing touches on a 31-21 victory, its fans became bored. Rather than focus on the game, some of them pulled a prank. Thanks to the bowl’s sponsor, Tostitos, everyone who attended the game was given a free bag of chips upon entry. Some fans ate them immediately. Others discarded them or gave them away. All while a group of Nebraska fans stockpiled them.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, that group took their chips to the first row of a sparse section in the second level and made it rain chips on the Tennessee fans below.

Most in the stadium had a good laugh about the prank. Heck, I remember it vividly 12 years later. But I can’t imagine the Vols fans that got hit by falling corn chips enjoyed it.

I haven’t been back to a Fiesta Bowl since. I have no idea if Tostitos still gives away free chips. But if they do, and you have a seat in the lower level, beware. Or bring an umbrella. You never know when it might start raining chips.

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Next up on the countdown: The best K-State football pictures of year.

Last time on the countdown: Tickets are cheaper, easier to come by this season.

Editor’s Note: On Jan. 3, the Kansas State football team will face Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. With that in mind, I am counting down to the big game at University of Phoenix Stadium by attempting to write 21 blog posts in 21 days. I use the word “attempting” because I can only think of so many blog ideas. I’m confident that I can go 21 for 21, but your help is appreciated. Feel free to send a blog idea (or two) my way at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com or via twitter @KellisRobinett.

Fiesta Bowl Countdown: Tickets are cheaper, easier to come by this season

At this time last year, Kansas State and Arkansas fans without Cotton Bowl tickets had to be worried. The Cotton Bowl had been sold out for a long time, and the tickets being sold online were going for very high prices.

The cheapest ticket available on the secondary market was about $220. And that was for a bad seat.

Lower-level seats near midfield were going for three or four times that amount. I seem to remember suites going for more than $10,000.

Of course, that game was at Cowboys Stadium, where everything is bigger and more expensive. The game also featured a SEC team coming off an impressive season. All things considered, it was a hot ticket.

Demand is still high for seats at the Fiesta Bowl, but tickets are much more affordable. A quick search on Stubhub.com reveals tickets are going for $90 in the upper levels. And tickets in the lower bowl behind the end zones are going for about $150.

There are still expensive tickets, but that is the case for all games. Seats near the 50-yard line in the lower bowl are going for about $400 and club level seats near midfield are closer to $600.
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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: Oregon’s offense reminds K-State of Baylor

Kansas State safety Jarard Milo was asked to compare Oregon to a team he faced this season in the Big 12.

It didn’t take him long to answer.

“When we look at their film we kind of see Baylor,” Milo said. “We also see of the other teams we faced. They have a very fast-paced offense. They have good players, too, but when we look at them we see some of the other teams we have gone against.”

Preparing for a juggernaut offense is nothing new for the Wildcats. That’s part of life in the Big 12. Earlier this season, West Virginia looked so unstoppable behind Geno Smith that Bill Snyder joked his gameplan centered on him being kidnapped. Texas Tech throws the ball as well as anyone. Oklahoma State churned out yards despite three quarterbacks this year. And Baylor became an offensive force behind Nick Florence and Lache Seastrunk.

K-State fared well against most of that competition. It made West Virginia look bad, dominated Texas Tech and only needed Collin Klein for 35 minutes against Oklahoma State. But Baylor got the best of the Wildcats.

The Bears wasted no time between plays, rushing to the line and snapping the ball every few seconds (just like Oregon), and took advantage of Ty Zimmerman’s injury. Baylor threw deep, ran effectively and handed the Wildcats their only loss.

That could mean bad news for K-State in the Fiesta Bowl, but Milo thinks the defense learned a lot from that game.

“They have a good offense, but we aren’t going to get nervous about it,” Milo said. “A lot of the things they do are similar to some of the other teams we’ve already seen. With their spread offense, we are used to that.”
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K-State snags point guard Jevon Thomas

When Jevon Thomas committed to St. John’s and Dayton, the 5-foot-11 point guard gave into outside pressure. He made those choices based on what everyone around him told him to do, and came to regret both decisions.

So when he re-opened his commitment for the second time and moved away from New York to enroll at a Wisconsin prep school, St. Johns Northwest Military Academy in Wisconsin, he vowed to pick his college basketball destination with his heart.

That’s what led him to verbally commit to K-State on Thursday.

“This decision, I made on my own and I’m real proud of it,” Thomas said by phone. “The others, I was young. I never really got a good feel when they were recruiting me. But this time it was just me. I didn’t listen to nobody.”

Thomas, a three-star prospect who relies on speed and court vision to make plays, feels comfortable with K-State’s coaching staff. Assistant Chester Frazier handled his recruitment, but he also likes Bruce Weber’s motion offense.

He considers himself “a motion guy” and sees himself fitting in well to K-State’s offense.

“I like to push the ball,” Thomas said. “I can basically make plays with a mixture of skills. I can defend both guard spots, too.”

Thomas committed to K-State without stepping foot on campus. His official visit won’t come until Jan. 4. But he is looking forward to it. He already likes the fan base and has watched most of K-State’s games this season. He likes what he has seen. When he’s done with a year of prep school, he hopes to help the Wildcats immediately.

“They are a great rebounding team and they play great defense. They just need more speed and playmakers,” Thomas said. “They are a playmaker or two away from a Big 12 championship. They have good freshman guards coming in. I hope to be one of them.”

Fiesta Bowl Countdown: Extra practices allow Daniel Sams to focus beyond Oregon

This time of year is always important for young players on the Kansas State football team.

Whether they are backups or members of the scout team, bowl practices are their time to shine. With a month between the end of the regular season and the bowl game, coach Bill Snyder likes to give young players on his roster extra reps. Though his top priority is preparing for Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, he also wants to prepare for the 2013 season by putting inexperienced players in new situations.

Those who take advantage of the exposure have a leg up in spring practices and a better chance of starting in the fall. Remember, at this time two years ago veteran players raved about Arthur Brown and B.J. Finney. They have been starters ever since.

“Taking advantage of being on the scout team definitely helped me leapfrog into the position I am in now,” Finney said. “I know a lot of guys are working extremely hard there now and they are going to do great for us.”

Daniel Sams wants to make a similar jump next year. The redshirt freshman quarterback is Collin Klein’s main backup, and he wants to be the starter next season. So he is practicing with a purpose.

“I’m getting a lot of plays that Collin usually runs,” Sams said. “It’s been like that. A lot of blitz pickups, checking into the right protection. We are getting ready to get the young guys involved.”
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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: K-State WRs hope to avoid dropped passes against Oregon

One of the hardest things for any college football player to do in a bowl game is play stress free.

When you haven’t played in a live game in more than a month and you are running around on a strange field in front of a big crowd, executing the same way you did on a weekly basis during the regular season isn’t easy.

It takes time to shake off the rust from a long layoff and feel comfortable in a postseason setting.

Such was the case last year for Kansas State receivers. They never looked comfortable during the Cotton Bowl. Dropped passes held the Wildcats back all night.

Collin Klein connected on passes with eight different players and threw for 173 yards against Arkansas, with Sheldon Smith leading the way. He caught five balls for 50 yards. Tramaine Thompson was next with three catches for 57 yards. Current No. 1 receiver Chris Harper was quiet, grabbing one pass for 11 yards.
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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: When it comes to football uniforms, Oregon is a trendsetter

Before the Oregon Ducks take the field next month at the Fiesta Bowl, they will need to figure out what they’re going to wear.

That’s never an easy task for a football team with close ties to Nike and Phil Knight. The Ducks have hundreds of different uniform options to choose from, and they go out of their way to make sure they don’t wear the same thing twice.

One week they come out with neon yellow numbers, the next their shoulder pads will feature wings or spikes. Sometimes they wear all white. Other times they wear black and green, yellow and green or throw in some gray. Point is: They never look the same.

Lots of teams (Oklahoma State, Baylor, Maryland) try to do the same with their uniforms. What they wear from week to week is considered news. Plenty more (TCU, Boise State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Notre Dame) break out special uniforms for special games.

New and loud uniforms are practically common place in college football, but that wasn’t always the case. Oregon started it all. Oregon was the trendsetter.
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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: Marcus Mariota makes Oregon’s offense go

At the heart of Oregon’s fast-paced, high-powered offense is Marcus Mariota, a redshirt freshman quarterback from Hawaii.

He is a dual-threat athlete who just finished an impressive season with the Ducks. Mariota threw for 2,511 yards and 30 touchdowns while completing 69.9 percent of his passes. The 6-foot-4, 211-pounder also averaged seven yards per carry while rushing for 690 yards and four touchdowns.

If not for sharing the spotlight with sensational running back Kenjon Barner all year, Mariota might have been a Heisman Trophy candidate this season.

For those reasons, some have compared him to Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.

“I feel like if there’s one similarity I feel that it’s we’re both athletic,” Mariota told the Oregonian earlier this week.

Though both players are effective in several different areas and have put up good stats, I’m not sure that’s fair. They both get the job done, sure. But they are different quarterbacks.

Mariota is faster than Klein, and likes to throw quickly into plays and keep Oregon’s offense moving. Klein is a more powerful runner than Mariota, and prefers to let plays develop before throwing downfield or choosing a hole to run through. Mariota reminds me more of West Virginia’s Geno Smith.
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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: Just like last year, K-State’s bowl game is a must-see

Though Kansas State fans everywhere were angry about the Sugar Bowl’s decision to select Virginia Tech instead of the Wildcats last year, there was one noticeable perk that came with being slighted by the BCS.

K-State got to play Arkansas in a must-see Cotton Bowl matchup.

Both teams were ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings heading into the game, and both teams won double-digit games in the regular season. Outside of the national championship game, it was one of the most intriguing games of the postseason.

The Fiesta Bowl (Stanford against Oklahoma State) was probably more attractive to a national audience, but not by much. And the Rose Bowl (Oregon vs. Wisconsin) had a tradition/pageantry advantage, but the Cotton Bowl topped everything else. It was hands down better than the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl.

This year, the Wildcats are in the BCS after winning the Big 12, but are once again headed to a must-see bowl game. Oregon vs. K-State in the Fiesta Bowl is arguably the season’s best bowl matchup after the national title game.

If not for one cruel Saturday in November that saw K-State lose to Baylor and Oregon fall to Stanford in the span of a few hours, they would likely be playing for a championship. Instead, the two one-loss teams will meet in the desert in a battle of top 5 teams.
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