January 2, 2012
Purple Pride is alive and well in Phoenix.
A reported crowd of 23,000 turned out for a Kansas State Fiesta Bowl rally at Chase Field in Phoenix.
The Wildcat fans heard from Head Coach Bill Snyder, Wildcat players and KSU alum and star of "Modern Family" Eric Stonestreet.
The Fiesta Bowl, between Kansas State and Oregon, will be played Thursday at 7:30 CST.
KAKE Sports will air a half hour pregame special Thursday at 6:30.
No. 7 Kansas State (11-1) vs. No. 5 Oregon (11-1), 7:30 p.m. CST (ESPN)
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Line: Oregon by 8 1/2.
Series record: First meeting.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Once national championship front-runners, Kansas State and Oregon get a nice consolation prize by playing in one of the bowl season's most anticipated games. The Wildcats (5) and Ducks (4) are both in the top 5 of the BCS standings and have two of the nation's most dynamic offenses, setting up what should be a second straight marquee Fiesta Bowl matchup after Oklahoma State outlasted Stanford 41-38 in overtime last year.
Oregon's speed vs. Kansas State's power. The Ducks play at a pace like few teams in college football and often score quickly with 44 of their 80 TD drives this season coming in two minutes or less, including 22 in 60 seconds or less. The Wildcats are a bit more methodical and will need to use their ball-possession ways to keep the ball away from Oregon's offense.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kansas State: QB Collin Klein. A dual-threat quarterback, he became Kansas State's second Heisman Trophy finalist (with Michael Bishop in 1998) after throwing for 2,490 yards, rushing for 890 more and accounting for 37 TDs.
Oregon: RB Kenjon Barner. A threat to score every time he touches the ball, Barner helped the Ducks overcome the loss of all-time leading rusher LaMichael James, now playing in the NFL. Barner ran for 1,624 yards and 21 TDs, combining with DeAnthony Thomas to give Oregon one of the most explosive running back tandems in college football.
FACTS & FIGURES
Kansas State is in its 16th bowl in school history and 14th under coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats are in a BCS bowl for the second time after playing in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl. ... Oregon is in its fourth straight BCS bowl under Chip Kelly after playing in the 2010 Rose Bowl, the 2011 BCS national championship game and winning the Rose Bowl last year for the first time in 95 years. ... Oregon QB Marcus Mariota set the Pac-12 freshman record for TD passes with 30. ... The Wildcats have lost their last four bowl games, including 29-16 to Arkansas in last year's Cotton Bowl. Kansas State's last bowl win was 34-27 over Arizona State in the 2002 Holiday Bowl. ... Barner and Anthony are the only Oregon players since 1965 to score TDs rushing, receiving, on punt returns and kick returns in a career.