Here is everything you need to know about the Fiesta Bowl in our Iowa State vs. Oregon preview and prediction.
Saturday, January 2nd, 2021; 3:00 p.m. CST kick off, State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Mike Golic Jr.)
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network (John Walters)
Spread: Iowa State -4.5
Fun Fact: Iowa State and Oregon are playing for the first time. Also, Iowa State will play six opponents in the final CFP poll, the most nationally.
Iowa State Cyclones
RB Breece Hall
Hall is coming off an incredible season that saw him get named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. Breece Hall finished the season with 222 carries for 1,357 rushing yards, good for over six yards per carry, along with 17 touchdown runs. He also had 18 receptions for 144 yards, with two touchdown receptions. Breece Hall scored 114 points on the season, which was 26 more than anyone else in the Big 12 Conference.
LB Mike Rose
On the other side of the ball, it was Mike Rose who was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Rose finished the season with 81 tackles, which was third-most in the Big 12 Conference. He also was in the Top 10 in the league with 10.0 tackles for loss on the season, plus 1.5 sacks. Mike Rose’s four interceptions were tied for the most in the conference and were the most of any linebacker in the country.
RB Travis Dye
Dye finished the shortened season with 391 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, but he’s a dual-threat, as he also had 221 receiving yards and four scores, on only eight catches. Dye also finished the 2020 season as an Honorable Mention All-Big 12 selection.
DE Kayvon Thibodeaux
Thibodeaux was a First-Team All-Pac 12 selection after finishing with 32 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in just six games this season. In Oregon’s Pac-12 Championship Game upset against USC, he had two tackles for loss and one sack. He follows up his 2019 campaign where he was the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year with an impressive campaign and he will try to make life miserable for Iowa State’s offensive line.
Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State just needs its defense to do its thing. Oregon was ranked in the bottom half of the Pac-12 in points scored, rushing yards and passing yards per game, whereas the Cyclones have one of the best defenses in the Big 12 Conference, ranking third in points allowed per game and first in rushing yards allowed per game. Iowa State should stuff the run early and then force QB Tyler Shough, who is still relatively green in his first year as the starting signal caller, to beat you through the air.
The Ducks need to have success getting to Brock Purdy. That doesn’t mean necessarily sacking him, as Purdy is great at avoiding the sack, but it means making his life difficult and forcing him into mistakes, which Oklahoma did in the Big 12 Championship Game, where Purdy threw three interceptions. Oregon’s defense is led by Thibodeaux up front, but also includes an All-Pac 12 selection at cornerback in Mykael Wright and the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in linebacker Noah Sewell. Oregon finished fourth in the Pac-12 in sacks this season with 11, and their four interceptions were also tied for fourth. If that side of the ball can give Purdy all he can handle and force a couple of turnovers, they can pull off the upset.
Iowa State 35, Oregon 24
Oregon is lucky to be in this game. If not for Washington having to opt out of the Pac-12 Championship due to COVID-19 and then pulling off the upset over USC, Oregon would be in a mediocre bowl game this year. Iowa State has been a Top 10 team in the country for much of the season, is far more balanced on both sides of the ball and will be incredibly motivated to play in this New Year’s Six match up. Iowa State wins comfortably.
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