It’s a battle between the Pac-12 and Big 12 as the No. 25 Oregon Ducks (4-2) take on the No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones from Glendale, Ariz., in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Saturday. Kickoff is at 4:00 P.M. Eastern.
The Fiesta Bowl is the first-ever meeting between the two programs and Iowa State’s first-ever appearance in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
The Ducks are fortunate to be in the Fiesta Bowl, but they took advantage of an opportunity when Washington was forced to opt-out of the Pac-12 Championship due to COVID-19 concerns. Oregon then upset USC in the title game, earning their Saturday spot in the desert.
Oregon’s defense is led by last year’s Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Kayvon Thibodeaux up front. They also have an All-Pac 12 selection at cornerback in Mykael Wright and this year’s Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in linebacker Noah Sewell. Oregon finished fourth in the Pac-12 in sacks with 11, and their four interceptions were tied for fourth.
The Ducks are making their third trip to the desert for a major bowl, winning the 2013 Fiesta Bowl over Kansas State and losing the 2011 BCS Championship to Auburn.
Iowa State Outlook
Oregon will mark the sixth Top 25 school that the Cyclones will have faced this season, the most in the country. They set a program record with eight conference wins and are appearing in their fourth straight bowl game under head coach Matt Campbell.
Iowa State features both the Big 12 Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year in running back Breece Hall and linebacker Mike Rose. Hall needs 31 rushing yards to reclaim the top spot in the nation, also rushing for a conference-best 19 touchdowns. Rose had the third-most tackles in the Big 12, and his four interceptions were the most in the country for a linebacker.
Brock Purdy leads the way for the Cyclones under center, setting or tying 25 school records during his time in Ames, including 22 career wins.
Betting Line and Pick
Iowa State is favored by five in the Fiesta Bowl, with an over/under of 58. The Cyclones are 12-5 ATS against ranked teams since 2017 and 4-1 ATS over its past five games as a favorite.
Meanwhile, Oregon is 3-0 ATS the past three times they've been underdogs, winning the past four bowl games in which they were not the favorites. Iowa State will be just the fourth top-10 team Oregon has faced since 2018, and the Ducks are 2-1 SU and ATS in the previous three.
In a way, Oregon is playing with house money because if it weren’t for Washington’s unfortunate opt-out, the Ducks would have played in a lower profile bowl game. However, Iowa State is out to cement its legitimacy. If the Cyclones can protect Purdy up front and maintain an effective run/pass balance, they’ll do just that.
Also, should Iowa State win, look for Campbell’s name to heat up in both blue-blood college openings and even the NFL.
Betting Pick: Iowa State Cyclones (-5).