GLENDALE, AZ – In yet another exciting New Year’s Six Bowl Game, turnovers proved costly for the No. 25 Oregon Ducks (4-3, 3-2), as the No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones (9-3, 8-1) came away with the 34-17 win.
Just a couple of weeks after beating USC in the Pac-12 Title game, Oregon had a quick turnaround to face a talented Iowa State team all the way in the Southwest.
Unfortunately for Oregon, it was not a day to remember for the Pac-12 Champions. The typical high-flying Ducks finished their day with just 312 yards, 17 points, and even worse, five turnovers (including one kick-off recovery) in their 34-17 loss.
Overall, it was just a sloppy performance for the Ducks. “We obviously didn’t play up to our standard,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said. “It’s a game of execution, and in critical situations we didn’t coach well enough or execute well enough. We take losses as a team, we don’t point fingers, that’s it.”
However, Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown was one of the few bright spots for the Ducks. Despite Tyler Slough got the start, both quarterbacks played in rotation, and it was Brown who was trying to will his team to victory.
Unfortunately, his 12-19 passing for 147 yards and four rushes for 36 yards and two touchdowns was not enough.
“I thought Anthony [Brown] did some good stuff as well. We played both of them, because we felt that they can both give us a chance to win the game,” Cristobal said.
But the real story was the Cyclones’ dominance in one of their programs’ biggest wins in history.
“What occurred here is the greatest thing in the history of the school,” Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell said.
Certainly, hard to argue, as Iowa State has historically been an average-at-best program. In the center of their success has been star quarterback, Brock Purdy. The junior signal-caller finished his day 20-29 passing for 156 yards and a touchdown passing, to go along with 39 yards rushing and a touchdown on nine carries.
“There’s not enough words to talk about Brock,” Campbell said. “With Brock Purdy, there is no Fiesta Bowl. We are who we are because of his character.”
However, on Saturday evening, it was the dominating play of running back Breece Hall who stole the show, finishing his day with 136 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 34 carries.
“Offensively we got off to a great start in the first half,” Campbell said. ” Defensively, we were elite in the second half. That was as complete as we’ve played all season.”
And Campbell is right! With the win, the Cyclones picked up their ninth win of the season, tying a program-best in a season (2000 and 1906). At a program like Iowa State, “it just doesn’t happen overnight,” Campbell said. Since taking over the program, he has turned this program around, and they are heading in the right direction.
As for Oregon, there is a lot to take away in an abbreviated season. “Being the youngest team in the country, we still were able to win the conference and get to a New Year’s Six game,” Cristobal said. “But young or not, again, it is still going to be about winning it, so a lot of good lessons learned. A lot to be excited about, and a lot of fuel that we can use in the off-season to get better.”