Iowa State won the 2021 Fiesta Bowl after exploiting a pair of special teams miscues from Oregon.
Both offenses were evenly matched, but Oregon gifted Iowa State extra possessions. As a result, the Cyclones won their first ever Fiesta Bowl by a score of 34-17.
Oregon had a chance to stay in the game in the second quarter. The Ducks had just stopped Iowa State and completed a 99-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown.
But Iowa State answered, then recovered the ball on the ensuing kickoff, to help score back-to-back touchdowns.
Oregon did get a field goal in before the half, but punted on the opening possession of the second half. Iowa State punted, but recovered the lose ball when Oregon muffed it. The Ducks kept the damage to a field goal, but the Cyclones outscored Oregon 17-3 during that stretch.
That was too much for Oregon to overcome, and Iowa State capped off their magical season with a 2021 Fiesta Bowl victory.
Iowa State Wins 2021 Fiesta Bowl
Brock and Breece
Hall rushed 34 times for 136 yards and two rushing touchdowns. The Consensus All-American running back was the best player on the field for most of the game.
Purdy didn’t blow the Ducks away, but he was efficient. The quarterback completed 20 of his 29 passes for 156 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also ran nine times for 39 yards and one rushing touchdown.
Though Hall arguably played the better game, Purdy won the Offensive MVP award.
Neither player made splashy plays, but they ran an efficient offense. Though Iowa State only had 72 more yards of offense than Oregon, they had a whopping 42:48 time of possession. All of the time spent dinking and dunking wore out the Oregon defense and kept their offense on the sideline.
Oregon’s Quarterback Rotation
Oregon’s offense didn’t play as well as Iowa State’s.
For starters, Oregon gave up three turnovers on offense, in addition to two on special teams.
Shough was the starter, and didn’t look bad on the stat sheet. He completed seven of his nine passes for 79 yards. He did have the game’s lone interception, and the offense failed to score when he was on the field.
Boston College transfer Brown played more snaps than Shough, and the team around him was more productive when he was in.
Brown completed 12 of his 19 passes for 147 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He ran the ball four times for 36 yards, two rushing touchdowns, and a fumble. Oregon scored all 17 of their points off of drives which Brown led.
Brown started the second quarter, but coughed up the ball in the fourth quarter. Shough finished the game, but threw an interception late.
Oregon didn’t score a single point in the second half, partly because of the inconsistent quarterback play.
Iowa State’s Magical Season
This was such a magical year for Iowa State, so it was only fitting that they walk away with the trophy.
In 2020, Iowa State had its fourth-straight winning season for the first time in school history and reached the Big 12 Championship Game for the first time. They followed that up with their first ever appearance at a New Year’s Six Bowl Game, and won.
In an era where bowl games lose value every year, it was clear that this win meant the world to the Cyclones players. Some might think they just won the National Championship based on how hard they played and how much they celebrated.
Head Coach Matt Campbell said in the postgame ceremony that this was the Iowa State team to ever play. After the 2021 Fiesta Bowl, they have the hardware to prove it.