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Oregon Selected to Fiesta Bowl; Get to Know Ducks Opponent: Iowa State

Photos Courtesy of Getty Images

By Matthew Zimmer

After Oregon took out USC, the Ducks learned their bowl fate on Sunday.

No. 10 Iowa State and No. 25 Oregon face off on Jan. 2 for the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on ESPN. This will be the first ever matchup between the Cyclones and the Ducks.

With the Rose Bowl Game part of the College Football Playoff, albeit in Arlington, we knew there was no trip for the Ducks to the Granddaddy of Them All.

Let’s dive into the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.

Oregon Fiesta Bowl & Recent Bowl History

This will be Oregon’s third appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. The other two contests ended in Duck victories.

Jan. 1, 2002: No. 4 Oregon upended No. 3 Colorado 38-16 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

Jan. 3, 2013: No. 4 Oregon beat No. 5 Kansas State 35-17 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

So, if history is any indication, Oregon should do pretty well in Arizona. This year’s game is at the same stadium in Glendale as 2013, but with a new name, State Farm Stadium.

The Ducks are looking to win their third straight bowl game, just maybe by a wider margin. In each of their last two bowl games, Oregon won by just one point.

They won in the Red Box Bowl, 7-6, over Michigan State in 2018. Then, the Ducks edged Wisconsin, 28-27, in last year’s Rose Bowl Game.

Oregon’s last loss in a bowl game was in 2017, Mario Cristobal’s first game as the Ducks head coach after Willie Taggart bolted for Florida State 11 days prior to the game. They fell to No. 25 Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, 38-28.

How’re things going for Willie at FSU? Oh yeah, they’re not. He got fired mid-season in 2019. He’s now the head coach at Florida Atlantic.

How’re things going for Cristobal? He just got a six-year contract extension with Oregon.

Dodged a bullet with that one, huh Duck fans?

Iowa State Cyclones Season Recap & Stat Leaders

Iowa State finished it’s season 8-2 before losing in the Big 12 Championship Game to then-No. 10 Oklahoma, 27-20, this past Saturday.

The Cyclones lost in their first game of the season to the Sun Belt’s Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.

At the time, that loss appeared devastating, but Louisiana went on to be one of the best teams in the country. The Ragin’ Cajuns only loss came to unbeaten No. 9 Coastal Carolina, and Louisiana finished No. 19 in the final (pre-bowl) CFP rankings.

Iowa State went on to win eight of their next nine games, including victories at home against then-No. 18 Oklahoma (37-30) on Oct. 3 and at then-No. 17 Texas (23-20) on Nov. 27.

Before Saturday’s loss in the title game to OU, the Cyclones only conference loss came at then-No. 6 Oklahoma State (24-21) on Oct. 24.

Quarterback – Junior, Brock Purdy (third year starting)

  • 2020 season: 223-of-336 (66.4%), 2,594 yards | 18 TD | 9 INT
  • He also is 2nd in team rushing with 343 rush yards and four TDs

Leading rusher – Sophomore, Breece Hall

  • 245 attempts, 1,436 yards | 19 TDs
  • Also has 21 catches for 170 receiving yards and 2 TDs
  • He’s never fumbled in college. You read that right.

Leading receivers – Junior WR, Xavier Hutchinson; Junior TE, Charlie Kolar

  • Hutchinson – leads team in catches (60) and yards (726), 2nd in receiving touchdowns (4)
  • Kolar – leads team in rec. TDs (6), 2nd in catches (39) and yards (538)

Leading tackler – Junior LB, Mike Rose

  • Total tackles 90 | Solo tackles 51
  • Also led team in interceptions (4)

Sack leaders – RS-Soph. DE/LB, Will McDonald; RS-Sr., DE JaQuan Bailey

  • McDonald – leads team 9.5 sacks, 2nd with 11.5 tackles for loss
  • Bailey – leads team in tackles for loss 13, 2nd with 7 sacks

Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell

He’s kind of crazy.

To be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time paying attention to Matt Campbell, but a lot of what I found (like the above video) shows me that I know to steer clear.

This season wraps up Campbell’s fifth season at the helm of the Cyclones. His first year, 2016, the team went 3-9. Since then, they’ve gone to a bowl game each season.

Iowa State, after a 7-5 season in 2017, won in the Liberty Bowl against Memphis, 21-20. Then, Campbell and the Cyclones lost their next two bowl games.

Dec. 28, 2018: Lost to Washington State, 28-26; (ISU was 8-4 regular season).

Dec. 28, 2019: Lost to Notre Dame, 33-9; (ISU was 7-5 regular season).

The good news for the Iowa State is their bowl game won’t be on Dec. 28, haha. Anyway, under Campbell, the Cyclones are 34-28 in the regular season with a 1-3 record in bowls.

As a school, Iowa State has only won four bowl games out of 15 tries, aka 4-11. All four wins have come since the 2000 season.

This game vs. Oregon will be Iowa State’s first New Year’s Six game since the Peach Bowl in Dec. 1977, which they lost to NC State 24-14.

Predictions

We’ll do full predictions closer to game day, but my early opinion is Oregon will win the Fiesta Bowl.

Tyler Shough will have to continue improving, and if CJ Verdell can play I’ll feel even better about the Ducks winning.

Iowa State won’t be a pushover, but when Oregon is at their best (which I don’t think we’ve actually seen yet in 2020) they can beat a lot of teams.

Let’s see if the Ducks saved the best for last when it comes to their 2020 season.

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