Football season is rapidly approaching. The WRNL staff is getting excited. As we head towards the beginning of the 7th season with Matt Campbell as the head coach at Iowa State, we wanted to look back and rank our top 10 wins from the first 6 seasons. To do this, the staff was polled to give their personal 1-10 rankings. Win #1 was worth 10 points, #2 worth 9 points, and on down. The games that earned the most “points” are what we will look back on throughout this series. Coming in at #2 is Iowa State’s first NY6 bowl game in program history, the 2020 Fiesta Bowl.
SETTING THE STAGE
For the first time in program history, the Iowa State Cyclones were in a New Years Six bowl game. Iowa State narrowly lost the Big 12 championship game two weeks earlier. This game qualifies as a great consolation prize. Oregon took a wild path to winning the Pac 12, replacing Washington in the conference championship game due to COVID and winning it all. This Oregon team was 4-2 overall but clearly coming off their best performance of the season. Everything about 2020 outside of the Big 12 and SEC was weird, down to the fact that fans couldn’t attend this game. Could the most accomplished team in Iowa State history finish off the campaign in style?
If there was any question about Matt Campbell and Co’s strategy coming into the game, it was answered by the end of the first drive. 15 plays, 75 yards, and 7:30 later, Breece Hall punched in a touchdown from 1 yard out. Oregon was game though. QB Anthony Brown scored on the ground to tie the game at 7. 14 more plays, 69 yards, and 8 more minutes of clock time for Iowa State, and Charlie Kolar broke free to the corner of the end zone to put Iowa State up 14-7. Oregon responded quickly again, with Brown’s 2nd rushing touchdown making it 14-14. At this point Oregon had held the ball for about 6 minutes to Iowa State’s 21 minutes.
Arizona native Brock Purdy ran in a 1 yard score to make it 21-14. Special teams ace Rory Walling then recovered a corner kickoff to regain possession. 3 plays later, Hall was scoring for the 2nd time. All of a sudden Iowa State is up 28-14. Oregon added a late field goal to make it 28-17 at halftime.
The 2nd half was death by 1000 papercuts as Iowa State bled the clock and forced turnovers whenever Oregon tried to gain momentum. This was a straight up coronation. For good measure there was one last 8 minute Cyclone drive that ended in a Connor Assalley field goal to make it 34-17 in the 4th quarter. The final stats are preposterous. Iowa State won the time of possession battle 42:48 to 17:12. Iowa State won the turnover battle 4-0. Iowa State held their opponent out the end zone in the 2nd half for the 3rd consecutive game. At the end of the day, it was a perfect effort in all facets of the game to wrap up a NY6 victory at Iowa State that didn’t seem possible 4 years earlier.
- RB Breece Hall (34 carries, 136 yards, 2 TDs)
- LB Orien Vance (4 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 fumbles recovered)
- QB Brock Purdy (20/29, 156 yards, 1 TD, 39 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD)
- Iowa State runs 7:36 off the clock right away and caps the drive off with a Breece Hall TD
- Iowa State runs 8:16 off the clock on their 2nd possession with Charlie Kolar scoring the 2nd TD
- Rory Walling’s kickoff recovery
- Orien Vance recovers 2 fumbles in the 2nd half
- Mike Rose seals the win with an interception
HEAR FROM OUR STAFF
It’s hard to quantify the meaning of a New Year’s Six bowl win during the CFP era. Some say it doesn’t matter because you didn’t make the Playoffs; you weren’t Top 4. But for many others including Iowa State, a New Year’s Six bowl win, especially playing against a team as highly thought of as the Oregon Ducks, means the world. Not only was it a win for Iowa State, but it was maybe the most complete win of the Matt Campbell era. Offense, defense, and even special teams. Iowa State dominated Oregon in all facets of the game. From start to finish, the Cyclones set the tone. Coming off a disappointing loss in the Big 12 Championship Game, there was no better way to cap off a historic 2020 season. -David Braga