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Kansas State takes on Oregon in a highly anticipated Fiesta Bowl match up on Thursday night. Both schools can score points, play decent defense and have 11-1 records. Kansas State helped bettors all season long with a 9-2-1 ATS record while the Ducks finished at 7-5 (although finished the season 6-1). The current line at 5 Dimes sportsbook has Oregon favored by -8.5 which is where it opened. But it was as high as -9.5 and as low as -7.5 since that time. The total is 75.5.
Oregon was destined for the National Championship after busting through all schools in their path. That was until they faced the defense of Stanford. The Ducks average over 50 points per game for the season, yet only managed 14 against The Cardinal. They didn't have any other problems with the rest of the Pac 12, shutting out Arizona, scoring 62 points at USC and beating Oregon State by 24 points in the regular season finale.
Kansas State has been close to Oregon's level, but hasn't dominated in every game. They had close wins at both Oklahoma and Iowa State by a combined 11 points. Their only loss of the season surprisingly wasn't even close even though they were 12-point favorites. The Wildcats got killed at Baylor, losing 52-24. They had no answer for the Bears offense that can be compared to the Ducks attack. Collin Klein was stifled in a couple games this year and that was one of them.
Klein doesn't have the speed or electricity of the Oregon offense, but he continues to get the job done. He leads the team with 22 rushing TDs and has now scored in 11 straight games. In addition to his legs, he has thrown the ball a lot better this year completing 66 percent of his passes for 2,490 yards and 15 TDs. The downside to that is that he has thrown five interceptions in the last three games, three of which ultimately cost him a chance of winning at Baylor. John Hubert also helps out in the running game even though he hasn't hit 100 yards in seven straight games. He does have 15 touchdowns this year which is 12 more than he had last season even though he has less carries.
Oregon hasn't been completely flawless on the defensive end this year, giving up 51 points to USC, but for the most part they've been solid. That might not matter if K State can't keep the Ducks off the scoreboard which is tough for anyone.
Kenjon Barner has been unstoppable coming out of the backfield totaling 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Ducks. He's coming off a 198-yard and two TD performance at Oregon State. Quarterback Marcus Mariota also helps in the running game with 690 yards and four TDs. Not only that, but De'Anthony Thomas also has 11 rushing TDs to help out. Mariota is killer through the air as well, completing close to 70 percent of his passes for 2,511 yards, 30 TDs and only six interceptions. Six of his receivers have at least three TDs and eight of them have at least 19 receptions so he spreads the ball out plenty.
Oregon has the ability to put points on the board and they most likely will against Kansas State. But with over a month to prepare for this game, Bill Snyder will not allow his team to get walked all over.
It sure is a scary proposition to go against Oregon. We did it once this year, and were successful in doing so, when they lost to Stanford straight up. Why did we go against them in that one? Same reason we are going against them here. Our numbers suggest the actual difference between these two teams is less than the posted line.
These two teams posted some blistering offensive yards per point numbers this year, #1 and #2 in the nation with Kansas State a 10 and Oregon a 10.7. They also posted respectable defensive numbers with Kansas State at 17.7 and Oregon 17.3. So Kansas State a tad better when comparing those numbers which is significant as we have Kansas State as having played a schedule that was a tad stronger, by about a point or two.
Those numbers alone would be enough to warrant a play here. If we put the names of the teams aside here for a second, and just look at those numbers, and then go back in history over the last 30 years and take all bowl games with those similar numbers, or for that matter, all college football games with those numbers, providing the schedule strength is fairly even, and we give the dog +8.5 points, we'd have a very high winning percentage taking the dog.
Our model agrees, although it does have Oregon on top. We run the games with season to date data, last 5 and last 7 and they played out as follows with our model: 37-35, 46-39, 42-37. Also note the turnover margin differential of these two teams with Kansas State +22 and Oregon +19. Those are phenomenal numbers, the numbers of very good football teams and the best margin numbers of all bowl squads.
Roll it all together and we have a couple of very good football teams in off very good years. As a result, we'd expect a very good game on the national stage. No reason for us not to take the dog here. It's just another play in a career of many, but a play nonetheless. Kansas State +8.5. (Watch the board, it may rise)
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