Phoenix will be lovely in January

Fiesta Bowl a great way to cap holidays

By The Mercury

This is a wonderful week for the K-State football program and its fans. The Wildcats are Big 12 Conference champions and their star quarterback, Collin Klein, is one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy.

Across Manhattan and elsewhere in Kansas, tens of thousands of fans are making plans for the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3 (Could any college bowl game be more appropriately named?)

As a story in Monday’s Mercury reported, more than 21,000 advance ticket applications have been received since the Wildcats became bowl-eligible. All orders will be met for fans who met the Athletic Department’s Nov. 30 deadline. Other fans who have set their sights on the Fiesta Bowl join the scramble for tickets that are reported to be going quickly. We wish them good hunting.

The Wildcats’ opponent, Oregon, has been as impressive this season as K-State has. In fact, before both stumbled on the same day a little over two weeks ago, the two teams were widely believed to be headed toward a national championship game.

As it turns out, Kansans who were morose after the Baylor game have regained the spring in their step. The victory over Texas Saturday — satisfying if not unexpected — reminded fans that they have plenty to look forward to.

The matchup at the University of Phoenix Stadium will be intriguing. The two teams are evenly matched but have decidedly different styles. The Wildcats are capable both of striking quickly and wearing down defenses — and the game clock. Oregon scores points at a pace that would make many basketball teams envious.

Oregon’s head coach, Chip Kelly, is well regarded, and deservedly so, with numerous coaching honors and a spate of winning teams. With continued success, he could one day achieve the legendary status conferred on KSU’s coach, Bill Snyder.

Sports sections and water-cooler conversations will be filled with stories, scenarios and statistics, with excitement increasing as the game nears. Though Phoenix will be more fun for fans with game tickets, we don’t doubt that among the throngs of KSU fans headed there will be some who won’t get into the game but who wouldn’t miss the tailgating — official and unofficial. In the meantime, Phoenix-bound folks have plenty of decisions to make, including whether to choose one of the travel packages or come up with a plan of their own.

Ahh, it’s good to be a Wildcat fan.

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