Fiesta Bowl Ends In Defeat, 34-17
GLENDALE, Ariz. — A high-scoring first half was followed by a defensive final two quarters Saturday in the Fiesta Bowl, with No. 10 Iowa State playing a cleaner game to deny No. 25 Oregon wins in back-to-back New Year's Six bowls, 34-17.
The two-time Pac-12 champs trailed 28-17 at halftime. The Ducks locked down defensively in the second half, but three turnovers stymied the comeback bid; Oregon finished the game minus-four in the turnover column and finished the season minus-nine in seven games, with takeaways in just two games.
"We obviously didn't play up to our standard," UO coach Mario Cristobal said. "It's a game of execution, and in critical situations we didn't coach well enough or execute well enough."
Tyler Shough started at quarterback and drove the Ducks on their opening series to the red zone, where he was replaced by Anthony Brown. The senior transfer rushed for a game-tying touchdown, and led two more scoring drives in the first half. But neither quarterback could get the offense rolling after halftime, with each turning it over once.
Brown finished 12-of-19 passing for 147 yards, with two rushing touchdowns, and Shough was 7-of-9 for 79 yards, with an interception.
"We went into the game with the same type of packages for Anthony (as the Pac-12 Championship game) — short yardage, some 4-minute stuff," Cristobal said. "… He developed a hot hand, so we stayed with the hot hand."
Travis Dye led the rushing attack with 52 yards, and Arizona native Johnny Johnson III led the receivers with four catches for 41 yards.
Nick Pickett and Verone McKinley III each had eight tackles to lead the UO defense. The Ducks played most of the game without starting inside linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia, who was ejected in the first half for targeting.
Early on, the game was reminiscent of Oregon's battles a decade ago with Stanford — Iowa State grinding out long drives, and the Ducks answering quickly. Oregon's first turnover occurred in the second quarter, but the defense stopped the Cyclones at the 1-yard line and Brown drove the Ducks to a touchdown that tied it, 14-14.
But a turnover that wasn't officially a turnover changed the game for good. After Iowa State scored to go up 21-14, they pooched the next kickoff and recovered it when Oregon couldn't field it. The Cyclones scored quickly to go up 28-14, and the Ducks never got back within single digits.
In the second half, Oregon's defense forced a punt but it caromed off a UO player and Iowa State converted a field goal for a 31-17 lead. After the teams traded punts, the Ducks drove into ISU territory but Brown fumbled while fighting for extra yards on third down.
The Cyclones added another field goal in the fourth quarter. Down three scores, the Ducks needed to force the ball down the field, and Shough threw an interception on fourth down with 3:19 left in the game. The Ducks finished 0-of-6 on third down and 0-of-1 on fourth down, while the Cyclones were 11-of-19 on third down and 2-of-3 on fourth down.