It is January 2nd and the Iowa State Cyclones are still playing football. What a time to be alive! Iowa State travels to Phoenix, Arizona to take on the Oregon Ducks in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. Oregon most recently took down previously undefeated USC in the PAC 12 conference title game, ISU coming off of a close loss in the hands of Oklahoma 2 weekends ago in the Big 12 title game. The Ducks seek to go 3-0 in the Fiesta Bowl and as you probably know, Iowa State seeks their first ever NY6 bowl win. The Cyclones will rock their all black uniforms and Oregon comes out in yellow helmets, white jerseys with green numbers and trim to go with neon yellow britches. They just aired a Matt Campbell highlight reel and I am now horny 4 the Clones. Let’s get into things.
The Cyclones set up shop for their first offensive possession on the 25 yard line. Landon Akers opens up with a 16 yard reception followed by Breece Hall run to quickly have the ball right around midfield and into Oregon territory. After constantly moving the ball with a mix of ground and pound and an aerial attack, Breece Hall hits paydirt to put the Cyclones up 7-0 after a 15 play, 76 yard drive ate up nearly 8 minutes of game clock.
Oregon gets the ball on their own 27 to open up their offense. Tyler Shough and Travis Dye have the offense moving, the Cyclone defense on their heels. The Ducks sub in QB Anthony Brown who goes untouched 6 yards to tie the game up, 7 a piece. Brock Purdy and the offense get the ball right back on their own 31 for the second possession of offense. Oregon’s defensive line is stout as we expected, stuffing the run game early on. Purdy continues to get the ball to his playmakers (the tight ends) to continue moving the ball. The Cyclones convert a big 4th down conversion to keep the drive alive, that led to a classic Purdy-Kolar connection from 14 yards out to put the Cyclones back up by 7. Busted coverage left Chuck wide open. An 8 minute drive this time. ISU putting together some methodical drives.
Jon Heacock’s defense forces a fumble 2 plays into Oregon’s drive, Cyclones in business already within striking range on the 15 yard line after O’Rein Vance recovers the loose ball. Iowa State faces not one, but two 4th and 1 situations, opting to go for it both times. 1st time resulted in a 1st down, 2nd time resulting in a turnover on downs from the 1 yard line. Oregon opting to go with veteran QB Anthony Brown over Tyler Shough to start the drive. Mike Rose also not in the game to start the drive. Brown leads the Ducks through the Cyclone defense to tie up the game once again after a 16 yard touchdown, 14 all.
Iowa State has just 3:17 to go 75 yards before the half. Brock Purdy takes off on the first play, only to gain a free 15 after an unnecessary roughness with targeting is assessed to Oregon’s leading tackler, Isaac Slade-Matautia. Purdy keeps the hot hand and finds Xavier Hutchinson for a 30 yard gain to put the Cyclones in the red zone. Breece Hall puts the team on his back all the way to the 2 inch line, before Brock Purdy fakes out the Oregon defense and sneaks into the endzone to regain the lead, 21-14 good guys.
CYCLONE SPECIAL TEAMS DID A GOOD ONE
A pooch kick goes right into the hands on special teams specialist Rory Walling to give the Cyclones the ball right back on the 27 yard line with 1:44 to play. Breece Hall wastes no time, getting the ball right back within the 1 yard line after an 18 yard carry, followed by a 1 yard score for Breece’s 2nd TD of the day, 28-14 now.
Oregon’s offense drives down the field with ease, setting up screens and quick routes to surprise the ISU defense. A holding penalty moves them out of field goal range, but they get right back into it in no time. The Ducks set up a 47 yard field goal that goes right up the middle to make it 28-17 at the break.
Oregon gets the ball to start the second half, continuing to move the ball effectively before Mike Rose sniffs out a screen play right around midfield to force the game’s first punt. The Cyclones convert their 7th third down to get the gears spinning on the offensive side of the football. Kene Nwangwu getting a load of the carries early on in the 3rd quarter, racking up 24 yards on 3 straight runs. Iowa State makes their way within Oregon’s 50 yard line, only tp punt.
BAH GAWD THE IOWA STATE SPECIAL TEAMS HAS MADE ANOTHER PLAY
An Oregon player gets in the way of the punt returner, touching ball which Iowa State’s Gerry Vaughn would recover. Imagine running into the punt returner! Couldn’t be us. Nope. Never heard of that before. Anyway, the Cyclones have the ball back in Duck territory once again. While the possession would just result in negative yards, Connor Assalley is able to connect from 33 yards out to extend the lead to 31-17 with 6 and a half minutes to play in the 3rd quarter. Looking for a score to stay in the game, Oregon can’t convert on 3rd down and gives the ball right back to Iowa State via punt. The Cyclones return the favor and are forced to punt for the 2nd time today.
Jon Heacock dials up another fumble play, recovered once again by O’Rein Vance to get ISU the ball right back. Iowa State, however, would be forced to punt once again. Tyler Shough takes the field for the first time since the first quarter to get the offense moving.
Play that Tom Petty and hold them 4’s up, we’re headed to the final quarter of football in Arizona.
Jake Hummell and Mike Rose meet Cyrus Habibi-Likio in the hole on 3rd and 1 to force another punt out of Oregon. 3 false starts plague the Cyclones on offense, but it doesn’t stop them from moving the ball and converting time and time again on 3rd down. A nice dosage of Breece Hall and Kene Nwangwu milks the clock to under 6 and a half minutes that would result in a 39 yard field goal from Connor Assalley to make it a 3 possession game, 34-17.
Tyler Shough brings out the Oregon offense for, what is likely, their last drive of the 2020 campaign. A solid drive comes to a halt after Mike Rose comes up with his 5th interception on the season, “Good thing he caught it, otherwise it would have hit him straight-in-the-face.” said Mike Golic.
A perfect ending for the Cyclone defense, now we can relax. A fitting end for the 2020 Iowa State Cyclones football team a 34-17 win for the Whirlybirds. A team that didn’t have the greatest start to the season, but finished what was one of the best seasons in ISU history. In a time where everything was very weird and sucked, the We Will Cyclones came together and brought Cyclone Nation with them. Who cares what anyone else says about Iowa State, your Cyclones are Fiesta Bowl champions.