The 2013 Fiesta Bowl is going to feature a lot of points, but that does not mean that defense will be abandoned in favor of a shootout. One key matchup will be Kansas State's linebackers going up against the Oregon running backs. The Oregonian and the Wichita Eagle will be comparing the position groups leading up to the Fiesta Bowl.
Arthur Brown leads the Kansas State linebacking corp with 91 tackles, six tackles for a loss, two interceptions and a sack. He was also named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. And then there is Jarell Childs, who has 64 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Also worth mentioning is Justin Tuggle, who is used at times in Kansas State's 4-2-5 defense. In limited time, he has 18 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.
This unit will have a tough time going up against Oregon running backs De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner. Barner was second in the Pac-12 with 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns, and Thomas rushed for 686 yards and 11 touchdowns. These two backs are capable of breaking off huge runs if given any type of running room, no matter how small.
Here is how both newspapers rate this matchup:
The Oregonian's Aaron Fentress says: Edge to Oregon. KSU allowed 348 yards rushing to Baylor during a 52-24 loss, and was frequently gashed by Lache Seastrunk, a former Duck who left Eugene in part because he was low on the depth chart. Oregon's running game (third in the country at 328.8 yards per game) is better than Baylor's (19th, 225.5).
The Wichita Eagle's Kellis Robinett says: Edge to Oregon: Brown will be the best linebacker at the Fiesta Bowl, but depth has to count for something. Oregon has the better unit.
Kansas State will need an extraordinary performance from their linebacking corp to have a shot at slowing down the Oregon running backs.