The 2020 Pac-12 Champion Oregon Ducks will face the Iowa State Cyclones in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Saturday, Jan. 2. This won’t be the first Fiesta Bowl appearance for the No. 25 Ducks, but it will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs, and the first time No. 10 Iowa State has ever played in a New Year’s Six Bowl game.
Coming off their second consecutive Pac-12 Championship Game win, Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal said his team rose to the challenges that were brought by the pandemic this year. While other Pac-12 teams had to opt out of games due to COVID-19 protocols, the Ducks stayed available every week.
”Back in March when everything was shut down to the pandemic, the first and probably the most, I would say, prominent statement that we made as an organization is that whoever handles this pandemic best will probably have an opportunity to hold up the trophy at the end of the year in terms of the conference and maybe more,” Cristobal said. “So we took that approach and our guys have done an excellent job, our medical staff has done an excellent job being regimented and holding each other to a very high standard to be able, not only to stay healthy which is the number one priority, but also to be sure that week in and week out we would be able to field an entire, or almost an entire, football team.”
Even though the Ducks stayed healthy enough to play in every scheduled game, Oregon did have their Dec. 12 game against Washington canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Huskies program. Washington also had to opt out of the Pac-12 Championship game the following week, allowing the Ducks to slide into the title game to represent the Pac-12 North against USC on Dec. 18. That win is what sent them to the Fiesta Bowl.
Both Oregon and Iowa State players and staff have stayed in bubbles for the past few weeks to ensure they remained healthy and eligible to play.
The Fiesta Bowl appearance marks the 15th time in the last 16 years that Oregon has advanced to a bowl game. The Ducks hold a 15-18 all-time record in bowl games, including a 2-0 mark in the Fiesta Bowl.
The game will be played at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Both quarterbacks, Oregon’s Tyler Shough and Iowa State’s Brock Purdy, are from the Phoenix area and played against each other in their high school careers.
The Ducks are coming into the game with a 4-2 record, while the Cyclones are 8-3.
The 2021 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl kicks off at 1:00 p.m. on Jan. 2. The game will be televised on ESPN.
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