Marcus Mariota. De’Anthony Thomas. Kenjon Barner. While Wildcat fans may not be intimately familiar with these names, they continue to haunt the dreams of Pac-12 defenses up and down the West Coast. When the 2012 regular season concluded, Oregon had successfully made a case for owning one of the best offenses in the country with a scheme and roster responsible for the school’s fourth straight BCS bowl game. With redshirt freshman Mariota at the helm, the Ducks squeezed 1624 rushing yards out of Barner (who averaged 6.4 yards/carry) while Thomas registered a combined 975 yards rushing and receiving as the team’s most versatile player.
For its part, K-State has largely kept the Big 12’s explosive quarterbacks in check. And from Landry Jones to Geno Smith, the conference offers possibly the best collection of quarterbacks in the country. However, none of the quarterbacks in the Big 12 offer the dual-threat capabilities of Mariota (sorry, but still not sold on Geno Smith). We know K-State has had a good defense all year, but we simply don’t know how good it will be against this type of scheme with these types of players. Additionally, the conference is not particularly deep with running backs. And the most elite back the Wildcats faced this year, Lance Seastrank of Baylor, absolutely gashed them.
The other Big 12 teams most like Oregon were West Virginia, Texas Tech,and Oklahoma State. K-State had no problem bottling up these offenses, beating them in successive weeks by the scores of 55-14, 55-24, and 44-30. Yet although Tech’s quarterback Seth Doege is a fine prospect, he doesn’t offer the running ability of Mariota. But before we too ahead of ourselves, head to page two to check out how the lines will match up.