It's been a historically good year for No. 10 Iowa State. The Cyclones capped off an impressive 2020 season with a 34-17 win over No. 25 Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl for its ninth win of the season. This marks just the third time in program history that Iowa State has notched as many victories and the first time since 2000.
The Cyclones suffocated Oregon in a way that you'd expect a triple-option team to do, possessing the ball for nearly 43 minutes of game time -- that's nearly three full quarters. And the offense kept the ball moving, going 11 of 19 on third downs and 2 of 3 on fourth downs. Four of the Cyclones' 11 drives went for at least 10 yards with three of those drives spanning at least seven and a half minutes. And while running back Breece Hall didn't have many explosive plays, he had a career-high 34 carries for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Conversely, Oregon ran just 46 plays to Iowa State's 85.
Oregon ends its season at 4-3, but the Ducks never gave themselves a chance to win with five turnovers. Sloppy play was prevalent on both sides through turnovers and penalties, but Oregon really paid for poor ball security and bad special teams play. Here's what else we learned from Saturday's game.
1. Oregon's defense actually did a decent job
Oregon had five turnovers on Saturdays -- three fumbles, one botched kickoff return and a garbage-time interception. Basically all of the turnovers gave Iowa State great field position with two turnovers coming inside the Oregon 30-yard line. And yet, the Ducks only allowed 10 points off of takeaways. On three of the ensuing possessions after a turnover, Oregon's defense allowed just 17 total yards, had a goal-line stand and forced one three-and-out. All things considered, it could have been much worse on the scoreboard. That's a credit to Oregon's defense, which tightened up after Iowa State's first two touchdown drives totaling 29 plays and 134 yards.
2. Time of possession mattered
As you can see, Iowa State controlled the game. Just how much is remarkable. The Cyclones nearly doubled the Ducks in the number of plays ran and nearly tripled them in terms of time of possession. Meanwhile, Iowa State averaged just 4.5 yards per play. Outside of one long 30-yard pass play from Brock Purdy to Xavier Hutchinson, Oregon's defense kept pretty much everything in front of them. But Iowa State was relentless. It converted third downs at a good rate (58%) and had early success on fourth downs. Four drives were field spanning clock eaters. By the fourth quarter, it was clear Oregon's defense didn't have much left in the tank. The Ducks offense didn't exactly help, either, as it went 0 for 6 on third downs. Iowa State was able to get off the field frequently. Oregon was not.
3. A historic season for the Cyclones
You don't want to be a prisoner of the moment, but it's going to be hard to look back on this team and say it wasn't Iowa State's best in program history. The 2020 Cyclones tied the program's record for most wins in a season (nine) and probably would have had 10 or more if they had been allowed to play a full season. They had the Big 12 Offensive (Hall) and Defensive (linebacker Mike Rose) Players of the Year. Purdy had his ups and downs, but is clearly the best quarterback the program's had since Seneca Wallace. This marked the first time Iowa State beat Oklahoma and Texas in the same season and a number of these players have NFL potential. Matt Campbell has built something special in Ames. While even better days may lay ahead, this will go down as an all-time special season.
CBS Sports was be with you the entire way updating this story with the latest from Iowa State vs. Oregon.