EUGENE – The University of Oregon has accepted an at-large bid to participate in the 42nd annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Jan. 3 in Glendale, Ariz. The Ducks (11-1) will face Big 12 Conference champion Kansas State (11-1), with the game featuring the nation’s fourth-ranked team in the country (BCS poll) against the No. 5 Wildcats.
Kickoff for the Thursday night contest to be televised by ESPN in University of Phoenix Stadium is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PST as the two schools will face one another for the first time ever on the football field.
It will mark the fourth-consecutive BCS bowl appearance for Oregon – and its fifth overall – as well as the school’s second Fiesta Bowl berth in three seasons. The Ducks dropped a 22-19 decision to Auburn in the 2011 BCS National Championship in Glendale, Ariz., and are coming off a 45-38 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl a year ago.
The Ducks’ fourth BCS bowl bid in as many years represents the longest active streak in the country as the school is one of only four programs nationally to qualify for four or more consecutive BSC bowls since the inception of the current system in 1998.
Oregon’s first BCS bowl appearance resulted in a 38-16 win over Colorado in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl.
The game is expected to feature one between two offenses that have been fueled by a pair of outstanding quarterbacks as well as defenses which have thrived on turnovers.
Oregon redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota was named the Pac-12 Conference’s Offensive Freshman of the Year and was the league’s first freshman to be named first-team all-conference quarterback since 1989. He ranks sixth in the country in passing efficiency, completing 218 of 312 passes for 2,511 yards and 30 touchdowns while throwing only six interceptions.
Kansas State senior Collin Klein stands as one of the nation’s top candidates for the Heisman Trophy after becoming the first quarterback from a BCS AQ school run for 20 touchdowns and pass for 10 more in two seasons. In 2012 he completed 180 of 272 passes for 2,490 yards for 2,490 yards and 15 TDs in addition to running for 890 yards and 22 scores.
The Ducks completed the regular season ranking second in the country in scoring (50.8 ppg), third in rushing (323.3 avg.) and fourth in total offense (550.1 avg.). The Wildcats rank 10th nationally in scoring offense (40.7 ppg) but also 16th in rushing defense (119.2 avg.) and 24th in scoring defense (21.1 ppg).
Kansas State and Oregon rank first and third in the country, respectively, in turnover margin, with the Ducks leading the country with 24 interceptions and tied for first in total turnovers gained with Kent State (38).
Ironically, both teams suffered their lone setback of the season on the same day as Nov. 17 proved to be their undoing in the race to contend for a berth in the BCS National Championship game. Oregon dropped a 17-14 overtime decision to eventual Pac-12 Conference champion Stanford after watching Kansas State fall to Baylor, 52-24, earlier in the day in Waco, Texas.