GLENDALE, Ariz. — Iowa State’s Mike Rose already led all linebackers in interceptions with four before the Fiesta Bowl.
With 3:19 left in the fourth quarter Saturday, Rose got his third interception to seal Iowa State’s 34-17 win over Oregon.
The defense as a whole shut down the Ducks in the second half.
Rose’s interception wasn’t the only turnover the Cyclones forced. Isheem Young and Jake Hummel both forced fumbles and each time O’Rien Vance was there to scoop them up.
“Like (defensive coordinator) Coach (Jon) Heacock always says, if we do our jobs, we should be in the right place,” Vance said. “I feel like throughout the second half, that’s our whole mentality. We did our jobs, and we came out with turnovers.”
Vance was the Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP with four tackles, a tackle for loss and the two fumble recoveries.
“I mean, hey, if anyone was going to get it, I want O’Rien Vance to get it,” Rose said. “O.V. has been battling all year. I’m just glad to see his best football being played at the end of the season.”
Oregon totaled just 88 yards in the second half, averaging 4.1 yards per play.
“We’ve done a good job being able to stay poised and figure out what they’ve been giving us,” Rose said. “And then after the first couple drives, we figure out their game plan. We did a great job all year of just really shutting teams down late in the game. So that was the biggest thing we did today.”
Part of that shutdown was Oregon went 0 for 6 on third downs.
“When you win on third down it’s because you won first and second, first,” Rose said. “You’ve got to win every down. That’s how we approach it. It’s never third down; we’ve got to get off the field. It’s win on first and second down.”
Iowa State has big advantage time of possession
The Cyclones had the ball for 42:48 Saturday while the Ducks had it for just 17:12.
Iowa State had four drives of at least five minutes and had three that were at least seven. The Cyclones’ longest drive of the day was their second possession: a 14-plays, 69-yard march that took 8:09. That long, methodical drive ended with a Breece Hall 1-yard touchdown run.
The Cyclones ran a season-high 85 plays on Saturday.
Part of that was due to Iowa State’s success on third downs (11 of 19).
“If they can get you and if they’re unmanageable on third-and-short and keep moving the sticks, they’re going to continue bleeding the clock,” Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal said. “They’ll snap the ball with anywhere from 10 to three seconds on the play clock, and time will get chewed up.
“I believe their first drive had gone about 12 plays. Their second drive was something similar. And what happens when you see that play count start to mount up, you have to give your defense a chance to catch its breath and get legs underneath them by playing slower. We tried to do that tonight and we weren’t very successful.”
Go pro or return to Iowa State?
Iowa State has a few players on the 2020 team who could decide to leave early for the NFL Draft.
Two of the most important pieces of the team have already announced their return for the 2021 season.
Both Purdy and Rose said they will be back next year.
Tight end Charlie Kolar wasn’t as committal, saying that he’ll have to take time and think about it.
It’s not just the non-seniors who have to make this decision. Seniors all get this year of eligibility back because of the pandemic.
Tight end Chase Allen has been the only Cyclone to announce his intent so far, and the senior will be returning to Iowa State next season to play a second senior season.
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