December 02, 2012

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Fiesta Bowl will be in the rotation when a playoff system replaces the BCS.

The 2013 game might provide a glimpse of what a playoff in the desert might look like.

Oregon and Kansas State, teams still in the national-title picture just two weeks ago, will meet at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale on Jan. 3, giving the Fiesta Bowl a second straight marquee matchup of teams in the top 5 of the BCS standings.

The Ducks (11-1), with Heisman Trophy contender Kenjon Barner and all those fleet-footed players against the gritty Wildcats (11-1) and their own Heisman-worthy quarterback, Collin Klein.

Yeah, this should be good, maybe even better than last year.

The 2012 Fiesta Bowl was certainly a memorable one: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford, Nos. 3 and 4 in the BCS, dynamic teams with two of the nation's best quarterbacks in Brandon Weeden and the Cardinal's Andrew Luck.

The game matched the hype, with the Cowboys outlasting Stanford 41-38 in overtime, giving the Fiesta Bowl a much-needed boost after nearly losing its BCS status due to financial improprieties and a dud of a game in 2011.

Oregon and Kansas State, Nos. 4 and 5 in the BCS standings, have the potential to one-up 2012.

Oregon, No. 5 in the AP Top 25, has been one of the nation's best teams under coach Chip Kelly, using its swarm-of-bees offense to reach the BCS title game in 2011 and win the Rose Bowl for the first time in 95 years last season.

The Ducks were one of the front-runners to reach the title game again this season, steamrolling opponents through their first 10 games with what may be the nation's most unstoppable offense.

The Wildcats' run was a little more surprising.

Kansas State, seventh in the AP poll, opened some eyes by trouncing Miami in its second game and started to draw national attention by knocking off Oklahoma in Norman on Sept. 22. Behind the do-everything Klein and its tough defense, the Wildcats kept piling up wins and rising up the rankings.

After defending national champion Alabama lost to Texas A&M on Nov. 10, Kansas State moved up to No. 1 in the BCS standings and Oregon was No. 2.

All the Wildcats and Ducks had to do was win their final two games and they would almost assuredly play in the BCS title game.

They ended up losing on the same day, turning the BCS on end.

Kansas State fell flat under the pressure, run over 52-24 by unranked Baylor. The Ducks couldn't get their high-flying offense going against Stanford and lost 17-14 in overtime.

That moved Notre Dame up to No. 1 and put the SEC back in the BCS championship picture.

With its win over No. 3 Georgia this weekend, the Crimson Tide earned a spot in Miami on Jan. 7 to face the Fighting Irish for the national title.

Kansas State bounced back to beat Texas 42-24 on Saturday night, sending Wildcat fans rushing onto the field after the school earned its third conference championship in 117 years.

Oregon closed out its regular season a week earlier, rolling over No. 16 Oregon State 48-24 in the Civil War to keep its BCS bowl hopes alive.

The Wildcats and Ducks won't play for a national championship, but they sure gave the Fiesta Bowl a boost with another matchup that could be the 1A to the title game.

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