AMES — Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy has been dreaming of this moment since he was little.
The moment at hand is the Fiesta Bowl where No. 10 Iowa State will play No. 25 Oregon on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Glendale, Ariz. — just outside of Phoenix.
Purdy grew up in Gilbert, Ariz., also a suburb of Phoenix. He grew up watching Fiesta Bowls annually — the 2007 game between Boise State and Oklahoma sticks out. Purdy and his friends emulated the “Statue of Liberty” play Boise State pulled off in that win in their backyards.
“I always wanted to play for a national championship, to play in big bowl games,” Purdy said. “And being born and raised in Arizona, for us, that was the Fiesta Bowl. Watching those games, yeah, I’ve always dreamed and envisioned myself being in that kind of game, that environment, and playing in my home state.”
That dream built upon itself when he arrived at Iowa State with Coach Matt Campbell.
Campbell initially set, and publicly verbalized, lofty goals for an Iowa State program that was more than happy to go 6-6 and make a bowl.
His goals were conference championships and New Year’s Six bowls.
The Cyclones made the Big 12 Conference championship game two weeks ago and lost to Oklahoma. Now, Iowa State gets a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl — the first in school history.
“I came here for a reason, to help get this program going with Coach Campbell and everybody,” Purdy said. “And so to be able to get to a New Year’s Six bowl, for me is pretty astonishing and it feels great. But we still have to go there and win the game. The goal is not just to get there.
“Being able to look back on it is very special, for sure.”
Purdy is well aware going home for the Fiesta Bowl will be a surreal experience.
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“I already know I’m going to have goose bumps going into that game, just being on the bus with my team,” Purdy said. “I’m just going to be so excited to have the team I play college football with to go back to my home state and accomplish this goal, all of us set together.
“That’s what I’m most excited about. When we take that exit going into the stadium, I’m going to have just a bunch of memories of being in that stadium, watching games.”
Purdy believes these Cyclones are well equipped to accomplish their goal.
“We’ve done remarkable things,” Purdy said. “I think we really are like the true definition of what a team looks like. We have some key players who are really good and everything, but we play as a team — the offense, defense and special teams.
“We’re a bunch of kids who have worked hard our whole life. It hasn’t really just been about us. It’s been about others. I feel like we’ve been able to win games this year because of that.”
Purdy and Iowa State know Oregon will be a formidable opponent that’s routinely atop the Pac-12.
It’s that challenge that’s so appealing to the Cyclones.
“Iowa State is not this powerhouse program like Oregon and all these other teams, but that’s fine for us,” Purdy said. “We’re trying to do something for the first time in school history here. This is obviously the best bowl game we’ve ever been to in school history. But I feel like we do have what it takes to take the next step and become a top-tier program.”
Even the even-keeled Campbell, who tries to downplay everything, knows what’s in front of Purdy and his team.
“To have the honor to play in a game like this and again to do things that this program has never done and, in a lot of ways, nobody thought could ever do, what an honor for us to be part of a game like this and to play an opponent like we’re about to play,” Campbell said.