Monday, December 18, 2017
Colleges

Oregon beats Kansas State in Fiesta Bowl 35-17

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Oregon's DeAnthony Thomas raced 94 yards for a touchdown on the opening kickoff.

The fifth-ranked Ducks barely looked back after that.

Triggered by Thomas' attention-grabbing return, Oregon ran past No. 7 Kansas State 35-17 Thursday night at the Fiesta Bowl in what appears likely was coach Chip Kelly's final game with the Ducks.

"Our players won the game for us," Kelly said. "Can't say enough about our defense.

"We lost to a real good Stanford team (to knock the Ducks from national title contention) … but these guys understand what it's all about, it's about finishing."

It was a battle of styles: The fast-flying Ducks vs. the execution-is-everything Wildcats.

With Kelly reportedly drawing interest from several NFL teams, Oregon (12-1) was too much for Kansas State and Heisman finalist, Collin Klein. The Ducks got the track meet they wanted.

"If for some reason some teams want to talk to me it's because of those players over there," Kelly said.

Thomas followed his kickoff return with a 23-yard touchdown catch, and had 195 total yards.

Kenjon Barner ran for 143 yards on 31 carries and scored on a 24-yard touchdown from Marcus Mariota in the second quarter. Mariota scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter, capped by an odd one-point safety on the blocked extra point that went in the Ducks' favor.

Oregon had two interceptions and held Klein to 30 yards on 13 carries.

"We got beat by a better team, combined by the fact that we let down from time to time," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said.

Mariota was the game's offensive MVP, completing 12 of 24 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, and rushing eight times for 62 yards and a TD. Oregon linebacker Michael Clay was defensive MVP.

Kellyled the Ducks to four straight BCS bowl trips, the last two wins. Oregon is the standard for go-go-go football under Kelly. The backfield of Thomas, Barner and Mariota made up a three-headed monster of momentum, each capable of turning a single play into a scoring drive of 60 seconds or less.

Mariota has been the show-running leader, ably running Oregon's high-octane offense as the first freshman quarterback to start for the Ducks since Danny O'Neil in 1991.

Thomas offered the first flash of speed, crossing into the end zone after picking up a couple of blocks on the opening kickoff. The Ducks, are they are apt, went for 2 on the point-after and converted on a trick play to go up 8-0 in the first 12 seconds.

It was the second straight day a BCS bowl began with a quick strike; Louisville returned an interception for a touchdown against Florida on the first play of the Sugar Bowl.

Thomas hit the Wildcats (11-2) again late in the first quarter, breaking a couple of tackles and dragging three defenders into the end zone.

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