GLENDALE, Ariz. — Iowa State had a year of highs in the dark days of a pandemic. The Cyclones capped it with a dominating performance under one of college football’s brightest spotlights.
Breece Hall ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns, Brock Purdy accounted for two scores and No. 12 Iowa State grinded out a 34-17 victory over No. 25 Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday.
“Life has been really hard for our society, really since March,” coach Matt Campbell said. “Through dark and trying times, this team has been a beacon of hope for a lot. This team has grown and gotten better when things maybe say the other way.”
The Cyclones (9-3, CFP 10) used their ball-control offense to dominate the time of possession and keep Oregon’s offense off the field for long stretches to win their first New Year’s Six bowl.
Hall, an AP All-American, had 34 carries and his ninth 100-yard game this season. Purdy, who went to high school in nearby Gilbert, threw for 156 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-29 passing, adding a touchdown on the ground.
Iowa State had a time of possession advantage of more than 25 minutes to cap the best season in school history.
“We’re a tough team,” Purdy said. “We’ve faced so much the past couple of years. We have a lot of great leaders and experienced guys who have been there and understand this is what we’ve got to do to take it to the next level. I feel like that’s what we’ve done this year.”
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Oregon (4-3, CFP 25) alternated between Tyler Shough and Anthony Brown at quarterback, but couldn’t sustain anything on offense and was plagued by numerous mistakes.
The Ducks lost two fumbles, an interception and a pooch kick. They also turned it over when a punt hit a blocker’s helmet and had a touchdown wiped out by a penalty.
“Obviously, we didn’t play up to our standards,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “It’s a game of execution and in critical situations, we didn’t coach well enough or play well enough.”
Iowa State took a methodical offensive approach in the Fiesta Bowl, scoring its first two touchdowns on drives of 14 and 15 plays. Hall scored for the 12th straight game on a 1-yard run and Charlie Kolar caught a 14-yard TD pass from Purdy.
The Cyclones were stuffed on a fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the second quarter, but went right back to marching on Oregon’s defense.
Purdy scored on a 1-yard run and Hall made it 28-14 with a 1-yard run after Iowa State recovered a pooch kick.
The Cyclones bogged down in the second half, settling for two field goals by Connor Assalley, but maintained their ball-control advantage and shut down Oregon’s offense.
“We didn’t go into the game saying, we’re going to each up as much clock as we can, but that’s really how the game turned out for us,” Purdy said.
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The Ducks won their second straight Pac-12 championship after Washington had to pull out, earning their second straight trip to a major bowl.
Oregon had some early offensive success against the Cyclones, scoring on touchdown runs of 6 and 16 yards by Brown. The Ducks moved the ball late in the first half, but a 27-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Mycah Pittman wiped out by a holding penalty. Henry Katleman’s 47-yard field goal pulled them within 28-17.
Shough returned for several plays in the second half, but he nor Brown could get much going. Oregon had 88 yards of offense in the second half and Shough’s pass was intercepted by Mike Rose late in the fourth quarter.
“They played exactly the way we expected to and we just didn’t execute,” said Shough, who threw for 79 yards on 7-of-9 passing. “That’s what it comes down to.”
Oregon labored offensively at times and was hurt by costly mistakes to end a strange season with a loss.
Iowa State used its ball-control offense to cap the best season in program history.
Purdy and Shough have played on the same baseball team as kids growing in Arizona. They work out together in the offseason, have the same quarterback coach and had some epic battles as high school rivals.
Purdy won their first meeting on a college football field, but their connection will remain strong.
“We said congrats on a great year to one another,” he said. “He had a tremendous year and I told him that I loved him and that we want the best for each other
Oregon has one of the youngest teams in the country this season and should get nearly everyone back next year.
Hall is a sophomore and will be back and Purdy said he will come back for his senior season. Iowa State will have to replace several key players on defense, but Rose is just a junior.