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  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Defensive stands help stem tide for fifth-ranked Ducks

  • GLENDALE, Ariz. — The waters had changed. The waves now flowing the other direction. Kansas State had turned the tide, it seemed, surging in the first half and smacking Oregon's offense right in the mouth.
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  • GLENDALE, Ariz. — The waters had changed. The waves now flowing the other direction. Kansas State had turned the tide, it seemed, surging in the first half and smacking Oregon's offense right in the mouth.
    And the only way to regain the momentum was if Oregon's defense reciprocated it.
    Michael Clay, Erick Dargan and Co. did just that.
    Oregon made big stop after big stop late in the first half and early in the second half to give its offense the chance to take a commanding lead in an eventual 35-17 win in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Thursday night in front of 70,242 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
    No. 5 Oregon (12-1) held seventh-ranked Kansas State's offense to 283 total yards. Clay led Oregon with nine tackles and a sack and Dargan had eight tackles and two interceptions.
    Kansas State (11-2) couldn't get much going on offense, especially in the middle quarters. Quarterback Collin Klein, who averaged 147.5 passing yards and 87.8 rushing yards this season, was held to 181 yards total on Thursday night.
    Oregon coach Chip Kelly said lowering Klein's impact wasn't complicated.
    "It was just trying to get a lot of guys to the ball and tackle him," Kelly said. "I had my heart in my throat a couple of times watching him run around, but our guys just made the plays when they had to make plays."
    Oregon's defense began to sway the game late in the first quarter. The Ducks' offense wasn't doing much after two quick touchdowns and Kansas State was on the verge of potentially tying the game at 15.
    Kansas State had a first and goal on the 4 and would not get any closer. The Oregon defense allowed only a field goal to make it 15-10.
    But it was the next defensive stop that was the biggest first-half game changer. After Oregon failed on a fake punt, Kansas State looked to take the lead or close the gap before halftime.
    Oregon's defense held again as Kansas State missed a 40-yard field goal with 1:00 left.
    Five Oregon plays, 77 yards and 46 second later, the Ducks scored a touchdown to take a 22-10 halftime lead.
    Oregon carried that defensive work into the second half, stifling Kansas State. Oregon forced Kansas State into three straight three-and-outs, which led to Oregon's offense scoring 10 more points and what turned out to be an insurmountable 32-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
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    CHIP WATCH: The Associated Press reported Thursday that Kelly already has interviews lined up today with the Buffalo Bills. The Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles are also interested in talking with him.
    Kelly said postgame that he doesn't know when he will talk to NFL teams and he'll leave that up to his agent, David Dunn.
    Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, who finished with 143 yards rushing Thursday night, said he doesn't know what Kelly will do.
    "I think he's going to do what's best for (himself)," Barner said. "He has to make the best business decision for him."
    Barner does believe Kelly could succeed in the NFL.
    "Absolutely," Barner said. "The man is a genius."
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    SUPER MARIOTA: Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota didn't have the best overall game but, as he has done all season, he made plays with his arm and his legs to extend drives. Mariota, who was named the offensive player of the game, finished 12 of 24 for 166 yards passing and two touchdowns and ran for 62 yards and a touchdown.
    "We started going at our pace," he said of his team's offensive resurgence in the second quarter. "We had a couple of big catches and it got us going and got us in a rhythm."
    Mariota has scored 38 total touchdowns (32 passing, five rushing and one receiving) this season, a new Oregon record. The previous mark was 36, shared by Darron Thomas (2011) and Akili Smith (1998).
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    UNUSUAL SAFETY: Even when Oregon doesn't convert a score, somehow, some way, it still does.
    In the third quarter, Oregon received a 1-point safety because Kansas State blocked an extra point attempt but carried the ball backward into the end zone. The unusual safety gave Oregon a 32-10 lead at the 8:03 mark in the third quarter.
    Kansas State senior Chris Harper was the culprit, picking up the loose ball but was tackled back into the end zone for the safety. In doing so, Harper actually helped his former team. He transferred from Oregon to Kansas State after the 2008 season.
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    EXTRA POINTS: Oregon finished 12-0 this season and is 38-0 overall under Kelly when leading at halftime. ... De'Anthony Thomas is now Oregon's career record-holder for all-purpose yards in bowl games (482 yards on 17 touches.) ... Oregon's five-play, 77-yard drive that took just 46 seconds just before halftime was the team's 23rd touchdown drive this season under 60 seconds. ... Barner's 14th career 100-yard rushing game ties him with Jonathan Stewart for second all-time at Oregon. Barner finished his career just 21 yards shy of LaMichael James' school record of 5,869 all-purpose yards ... The Ducks won 12 games for a third straight season and third time in school history.
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