Ducks Soar to Fiesta Bowl Winner Heights

Fiesta Bowl Winner

On the start of the New Year, the high temperature in Glendale, Arizona was 62 degrees. Inside of State Farm Stadium, it was likely a comfortable 72 degrees. Both of those were noticeably warmer than the performance put out by the Liberty Flames against the Oregon Ducks. The Fiesta Bowl winner was a big favorite coming into the game and left no doubt with their performance. The Ducks fanned out the Flames by a score of 45-6.

Flamming Hot First Quarter

For a game that kicked off at 10 am local, one team was very much sleepier at kickoff. It looked like the Ducks were not interested in playing football early on. The Group of 5 representatives in the NY6 bowl games has typically played its respective Power 5 opponent very tough, including some outright victories. Early in the game, Liberty was making a big to become the biggest surprise Fiesta Bowl winner since Boise State defeated Oklahoma in 2007.

The Flames’ vaunted rushing attack went for 69 yards and finished the quarter with a total of 130 yards of offense. Liberty quarterback Kaidon Salter was a crisp 6-for-9 passing with a touchdown pass. Although the PAT was missed on the opening drive touchdown. Meanwhile, the Ducks failed to get out of first gear with only 88 yards of offense. Early on, the bigger offensive line of Oregon was struggling to create running lanes for Bucky IrvingJamey Chadwell’s team enjoyed an early 6-3 lead heading into the 2nd quarter.

Ducks Cruise For Rest Of Game

However, Dan Lanning saw his Oregon team finally wake up for the last 45 minutes of football. The Ducks would score touchdowns on its next six possessions. The running finally got moving and it looked easy. Oregon would finish the game with 183 yards on the ground, with Irving leading the way with 117. As the ground game got rolling for Oregon, quarterback Bo Nix carved up an over-matched secondary. Nix finished the game 28-for-35 for 363 yards and five touchdowns. His five passing touchdowns tied a Fiesta Bowl record.

After that first quarter, the Flames would only muster 164 total yards of offense. Liberty also lost the turnover battle two-to-zero. Salter only completed nine more passes for the game and would finish 15-for-24 passing for 126 yards. That powerful rushing attack that the Flames relied on all year found it to be much tougher sledding on the ground for the rest of the game. They only added 99 rushing yards to their total, finishing the game with 168. Liberty would not score the rest of the game.

Fiesta Bowl Winner Off To The Big 10

What does it mean for the Ducks to be crowned the 2024 Fiesta Bowl Winner? It marks just the sixth time in program history that Oregon finished with 12+ victories. It also makes the Ducks 4-2 in their last six bowl games. Oregon found itself disappointed to come short in the Pac-12 championship game against Washington that would have likely landed them in the college football playoff. However, Oregon chose not to view the Fiesta Bowl as a game beneath them.

Having players like Nix and Irving play in the game spoke to how this team viewed this opportunity to finish the season out strong. Next year, Oregon embarks on a new chapter in its program history as they start Big 10 play. With a current recruiting class ranked sixth nationally, the Ducks are heading into the 2024 season with lots of positive momentum. They will need it with a schedule that includes Ohio State, Michigan, Washington, and Oregon State on it next season.

 

Fiesta Bowl Winner

Photo courtesy: Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

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