K-State sports one of the most experienced defensive lines in the country, and although DEs Adam Davis and Meshak Williams were JUCO transfers, they’re intimately familiar with each other as the two were teammates at Hutchison Community College. The interior linemen, Vai Lutui and John Sua, are also junior college transfers, having come from Mt. San Antonio and Allen Hancock, respectively. All four starters are seniors and have spent the better part of their college careers preparing for this opportunity. And while all have been vital to the team’s success, eyes will be on the tandem of Davis and Williams who combined for 17 sacks this year. Both DEs received All-Big 12 honors.
The trenches may be where K-State holds the biggest edge, and will certainly not be outmuscled by Oregon. Oregon’s offensive linemen are expected to do a lot of things, and are often responsible for picking up blocks on the second level in the Ducks’ ever-moving offense. However, their linemen are about as big as K-State’s defensive tackles, and will not be expected to push them around. Although Davis (259 pounds) and Williams (245) play a little small for their positions, their motors are constantly pushing forward.
The linebacker/running back matchup is one of the best out there. Arthur Brown is one of the fastest linebackers K-State fans have ever seen, and there’s no way the Wildcats play with Oregon without Brown in uniform. However, he provides the best chance to neutralize the speedy running back tandem of Thomas and Barner. With K-State’s undersized though somewhat speedier defensive ends, the Wildcats will be in hot pursuit of the Ducks’ RBs all night. Jarrell Childs should be the only other linebacker to receive significant playing time, as K-State will likely be in a 4-2-5 throughout the most of the night. However, Justin Tuggle is more than capable of being inserted into the base 4-3, and can also provide a valuable respite for Childs or Brown as the game wears on.
Moving into the secondary, K-State should have few fears about getting burned deep. Yes, Oregon is explosive. But safety Ty Zimmerman is “almost 100 percent” and will be in uniform for the first time since exiting the TCU game. His big play ability (five interceptions, several open-field tackles) will be a welcome return. And while Oregon has made its money on running plays and screen passes, its receivers shouldn’t scare anyone. Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman should have little trouble locking down the backfield.
At the end of the game, no one knows whether to expect 25 or 55 points from Oregon. While K-State is one of the best teams the Ducks have faced all year, their offense seemed to annihilate teams in the first half all year long and was playing reserves by the third quarter. Expect Mariota’s passing yards to be limited, the rushing yards to be high, and this imbalance to ultimately limit Oregon in the end. K-State should force the redshirt freshman into two turnovers, which will be good enough for a Wildcat victory. EMAW.
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