Is Kansas State headed for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl or the Holiday Bowl? A Sugar Bowl executive will provide the answer

DanielSams1
As strange as it may sound, a New Orleans man in a blazer will decide Kansas State’s bowl destination.

The Wildcats face two possibilities:

1. The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which will be played against a Big 10 opponent (possibly Nebraska) on Dec. 28 in Tempe, Ari.

2. The Holiday Bowl, which will be played against a Pac-12 team (potentially Arizona State) on Dec. 30 in San Diego.

K-State could end up in either game, but the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl seems like the current favorite. That’s a drastic shift from a few days ago, when K-State appeared destined for the Holiday Bowl. The bowl’s executive director said it was planning on selecting the Wildcats. But the dominoes of college football have fallen in a way that may bump K-State up to one of the Big 12′s top four bowls.
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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: K-State’s defense will stick with fundamentals against Oregon

With Oregon only losing one game this season, it’s easy to sit back and say Kansas State should devise a defensive gameplan similar to the one Stanford used during a 17-14 victory in Eugene.

The Cardinal out-gained the Ducks that night and held Oregon well below its average scoring output. Heck, it scored at least 42 points in each of its other 11 games. Stanford must have been onto something, right?

Perhaps, but K-State coaches aren’t thinking that way.

“That would be a game that a lot of people would say, ‘You could feed off of that,’” coach Bill Snyder said. “But all teams are different. Our defense is different from Stanford’s defense and vice-versa. You have to be careful. You can’t say, ‘They did it, so we can do it.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

So what will K-State’s defensive strategy be against Oregon? Snyder runs far too tight a ship to come out and diagram his plans with the media. But after talking to Snyder and defensive coordinator Tom Hayes, it is clear they won’t be using any brand new schemes or formations.

“We are not going to gimmick and do a bunch of crazy things,” Hayes said. “Several of these teams that have gotten in trouble against Oregon gimmicked and got caught out of gaps – woosh, 50, 70 right over the top – misreads, misexecution if you will. Hopefully we stay away from that.”
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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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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: 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: Commercials

Oregon football coach Chip Kelly starred in his very own UPS commercial this year. You’ve probably seen it already — Logistics! — but if you haven’t you can check it out above.

I’m not the biggest fan of those UPS commercials. It takes lots of work behind the scenes to do anything. Other than calling that hard work logistics, UPS is not doing anything special. But Kelly did a nice job and scored some face time and exposure for his offense.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has been in commercials before, too. Check this one out.


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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: Chris Harper, then and now

If Chris Harper wasn’t the best quote on the Kansas State football team, I would expect him to use the most popular line from high school year books — “What a long, strange trip it’s been” — to describe his college football career.

Because, well, it would be true. Coming out of Northwest High in Wichita, he committed to K-State until James Franklin left for Maryland. Then he de-committed and signed with Oregon. Then he played quarterback for the Ducks, then he played receiver for the Ducks and became the first Oregon player in eight years to run, pass and catch a touchdown in the same season.

Then he decided he was homesick. Then he liked the fact that Bill Snyder was coming out of retirement. Then he transferred to K-State, saying he was going to play quarterback. Then he switched to receiver full time during his transfer year on the scout team. Now he is the Wildcats’ top receiver.

Other than wearing the No. 3 at both schools, there weren’t many similarities.

See, that’s one long and strange trip.
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A few minutes with … Chris Harper

ChrisHarper Wichita native Chris Harper is off to a relatively quiet start at Kansas State. The redshirt sophomore wide receiver has grabbed three passes for 37 yards this season, and is yet to take the field as a starter.

But he has added much needed size, depth and talent to the Wildcats’ receiving corps. He feels like a breakout game could come at any moment, and hopes it can come against Nebraska on Thursday.

Harper may have spent his freshman season at Oregon, but he learned a thing or two about playing in big games while on the West Coast, and knows how important this rivalry is to the K-State fan base.
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Tuesday K-State links

Andy Katz, of ESPN.com, caught up with Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin in Orlando, and wrote a nice article about his rise up the coaching ranks and the success he has experienced with Kansas State.

An excerpt from the article:

Kansas State is showing no signs of disappearing from the national scene under Martin. If anything, the Wildcats are getting stronger as a major force, despite not being in a major media market, getting overshadowed by Kansas and essentially being forgotten during all the expansion talk in the spring.

“I was anxious; I can’t say that I wasn’t,” said Martin of KSU possibly being left out had the Big 12 disbanded. “We had no voice as far as men’s basketball, and nobody cared what I thought and nothing I could say or do would change the opinion or minds of people.”

But Kansas State stayed put, and so did every other school except Nebraska and Colorado, which will only make the Big 12 stronger in hoops as a 10-team league. After years of mediocrity, the Wildcats are again a part of that equation.

– Kansas State and Oregon have decided to cancel their upcoming home-and-home football series, scheduled to start in 2011.

The Register-Guard, in Oregon, speculates that K-State athletic director John Currie will replace the Ducks with Eastern Kentucky in 2011.
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