The 2021 Fiesta Bowl will match the Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks, and the Big 12 runner-up Iowa State Cyclones. Here is a preview and a prediction of the 2020 Fiesta Bowl.
25 Oregon Ducks (4-2)
Oregon had a very odd regular season. After starting the year 3-0, they went on to lose two games in a row to teams under .500 in Oregon State and California. Cal’s win over Oregon was their only win of the season. Oregon then got into the Pac-12 championship because Washington became ineligible to play. That’s where they beat USC 31-24 to win the conference.
Oregon scores 33.7 points per game, which ranks 27th in the FBS. They throw for 249.5 yards per game (ranks 42nd) and they rush for 180.2 yards per game (ranks 49th).
Tyler Shough replaced current Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert this season. Shough threw for 1,095 yards and 13 touchdowns while completing 99 of his 158 pass attempts. Devon Williams led the team in receiving yards with 264 in 13 receptions. Senior wideout Jaylon Redd led the team in catches with 22 that went for 252 yards and a touchdown. Runningback Travis Dye led the team in touchdown catches with four.
Dye also led the team in rushing yards with 391 in 56 attempts. CJ Verdell had the most rushing touchdowns with three. He had 65 carries that went for 285 yards. Quarterback Shough also contributed to the run game with two scores and 263 yards on the ground in 62 attempts.
Oregon allows 27.3 points per game, ranking 54th in the country. They allow quite a bit of passing yards per game at 249.7 (ranks 84th) while allowing 169.8 rushing yards per game (ranks 58th). The Ducks have a lot of players contributing in tackles with seven players having 25 tackles or more in just six games. Linebackers Isaac Slade-Matautia and Noah Sewell have the most tackles on the roster with 38 and 37, respectively. Safety Verone McKinley III has 33 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery this season.
10 Iowa State Cyclones (8-3)
Iowa State was in playoff talks at the end of the season. They would have had a way more realistic chance had they not opened the season with a 31-14 loss to Louisiana. After that loss, they won eight of their last nine regular season games, with the other loss coming to the 2020 Cheez-It Bowl winner Oklahoma State. Then they lost the Big 12 championship 27-21 to Oklahoma, and have a chance to get a win to end a historical season for this program.
The Cyclones rank 35th in the nation in points per game with 32.8. They pass for 249.1 yards per game (ranks 43rd) and rush for 192 yards per game (ranks 39th).
Junior quarterback Brock Purdy had 2,594 passing yards this season. He threw 18 touchdowns passes and completed 66.4 percent of his 336 pass attempts. Xavier Hutchinson has over 20 more catches than anyone else on the team with 60 receptions. The junior had 726 receiving yards and four touchdown catches. Tight end Charlie Kolar added 39 catches for 538 yards. He led the team in receiving touchdowns with six. Landen Akers, Chase Allen and Sean Shaw Jr. all added at least 200 yards with a touchdown catch to the Cyclones offense.
Breece Hall was the workhorse in the Iowa State running game this season. The sophomore had 245 carries for 1,436 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also had two touchdown catches, giving him 21 total touchdowns so far this year. Purdy also had 78 rushing attempts that went for 343 yards and four touchdowns. Senior halfback Kene Nwangwu added 284 yards on the ground in 50 attempts.
Iowa State allowed 21.8 points per game this season which ranks 28th in the FBS. They gave up 238.4 passing yards per game (ranks 72nd) and 107.6 rushing yards per game (ranks 10th). Linebacker Mike Rose leads the team in tackles with 90 total. He also leads the team in interceptions with four. Jake Hummel, O’Rien Vance and Lawrence White IV had 71, 64 and 56 tackles, respectively.
This game could go in multiple different directions. Oregon has shown some struggles at times this year. Iowa State has as well, but other than their loss to Oklahoma, they haven’t lost a game since October 24. These teams are separated by less than a point per game and just .4 passing yards per game. The difference could come down to Breece Hall keeping the Ducks defense on their toes, helping the Cyclone offense score enough to win the 2020 Fiesta Bowl.
Iowa State 35 Oregon 28
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