AMES — For the first time in Iowa State history, the Cyclones are headed to a New Year’s Six bowl.
No. 10 Iowa State will play Pac-12 champion, No. 25-ranked Oregon on Jan. 2 in the Fiesta Bowl.
“We’re beyond grateful for the opportunity to play in this great game,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “We certainly understand the prestige and history of the Fiesta Bowl. To play an opponent like Oregon, with what coach (Mario) Cristobal has done and the success of that program, our kids will be truly honored to play in this game.”
This is Iowa State’s fourth-straight bowl game.
The Cyclones have had arguably the best season in school history, going 8-1 in the Big 12 and making the conference championship game for the first time in school history.
The New Year’s Six bowl berth against Oregon, a program that is known as a national power, continues this historic season for the Cyclones.
“From our standpoint, this has been a really special season,” Campbell said. “I know we’ll be really excited about this opportunity.”
Because of the unusual scheduling of this season, Iowa State has played in 11 games and Oregon has played in just six.
Both have just a two-week turnaround before the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix. Normally, teams have a four-week turnaround before bowl games.
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“I’m really excited about the two-week turnaround,” Campbell said. “Sometimes the four-week process is really a challenge. I think this is probably the way this should be done going forward. This allows the rhythm of the football season to continue and allows the growth process to continue to happen.”
The two-week turnaround also helps the team to move past a hard-fought loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.
“By the time we landed in Ames, you’re disappointed in the result, but I couldn’t have been prouder of how our team played,” Campbell said. “If we didn’t play like we did, then there maybe would’ve been a harder reset. By the time we landed, I was really looking forward to what our next opportunity was going to be. I think the majority of our players felt that way, too and I’m really proud of their resolve.”
The players’ resolve should be a catalyst for Campbell’s favorite thing in football.
“You’ve got to grow, right? The season’s not over,” Campbell said. “Obviously, the regular season now is over, and the championship game is over, but I love the character and the humility of this team. I know what the senior leadership and the elite junior leadership that we have in this program, and I expect us to continue to respond and continue to grow.
Again, this group has never disappointed me once, and I would certainly be shocked if they disappointed me now.”
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