SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. (AP) - Oregon and Kansas State were atop the BCS standings just two weeks ago, each needing two wins for a likely trip to the BCS championship.
Those plans were derailed quickly with a loss on the same day, but they ended up with a nice consolation prize: A trip to the desert to face each other in the Fiesta Bowl.
And it should be a doozy.
Nos. 4 and 5 in the BCS standings, two of the nation’s best offenses, a pair of Heisman Trophy contenders _ yep, the Fiesta Bowl has done it again, pulling off a marquee matchup for the second straight year.
“(It’s) not just the rankings, but type of teams, the kinds of exciting plays and players that they put on the field,” Fiesta Bowl executive director Robert Shelton said Sunday night. “We’re thrilled.”
The fans should be too, again.
The 2012 Fiesta Bowl was certainly a memorable one: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford, Nos. 3 and 4 in the BCS, dynamic teams with two of the nation’s best quarterbacks in Brandon Weeden and the Cardinal’s Andrew Luck.
The game matched the hype, with the Cowboys outlasting Stanford 41-38 in overtime, giving the Fiesta Bowl a much-needed boost after nearly losing its BCS status due to financial improprieties and a dud of a game in 2011.
This year’s game has the potential to one-up 2012.
Oregon (11-1) and its swarm-of-bees offense has been one of the nation’s best teams under coach Chip Kelly, reaching the BCS title game in 2011 and winning the Rose Bowl for the first time in 95 years last season.
This year, the Ducks are loaded with fleet-footed players, rolling up yards in big chunks, scoring in bunches.
They have one of the most dynamic players in the country in running back Kenjon Barner, a Heisman Trophy hopeful, and quarterback Marcus Mariota had no trouble handling the pressure of running Oregon’s potent attack as a freshman.
Oregon, No. 5 in the AP Top 25, finished the season second nationally with 50.8 points per game, fourth in total offense at 550 yards and will be making its fourth straight BCS bowl appearance. The Ducks also played at University of Phoenix Stadium when they lost to Auburn in the 2011 BCS title game.
“It’s an amazing challenge,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “They’re extremely talented and well-coached collectively. Offensively, they go faster than the speed of light, so to speak.”
Snyder hasn’t done too bad for himself in the Little Apple.