The Pac-12 Champion Oregon Ducks (4-2) will have its work cut out for them in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, as head coach Mario Cristobal described his opponent as the most physical team he's seen on tape all year.
"[Iowa State is] the most physical team we've seen on tape and I'm talking about since I've been here at Oregon," explained Cristobal.
"When we turned on tape, right away our guys knew that this is the most physical team we have seen."
That includes multiple Stanford teams, multiple Washington teams, Michigan State in 2018, Auburn in 2019, and Wisconsin in 2019.
The Cyclones try to outmuscle the opponent on both sides of the ball whether it's with their “humongous” offensive line who "no one has... slowed down" or their unique 3-3-5 defensive front.
"That 3-3-5 stack approach is something very different and unique to us. We haven't seen it. We haven't played against it so we feel fortunate we have a couple weeks to prepare for it.
"You're talking about game-wreckers. You're talking about some really physical guys who are up the field upfront and they're downhill at linebacker... Upfront they're explosive."
Cristobal praised all units of the Cyclones defense but singled out redshirt freshman safety Isheem Young who has 46 tackles (31 solo), 2.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception, and three passes defended this season.
"He's a ballhawk and he's downhill in a hurry.
"These guys work well together and they know where their help is. They understand how to leverage the ball."
Redshirt sophomore safety Verone McKinley III echoed his coach's sentiment.
"A lot of physicality up front, they really like to drive people off the ball so it's going to be a good game," explained the safety.
No. 25 Oregon takes on No. 10 Iowa State in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl on January 2nd, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. PT.