Ducks

No. 25 Oregon Ducks cannot keep up with No. 10 Iowa State in Fiesta Bowl

Ducks

It was an afternoon to forget for the No. 25 Oregon Ducks (4-3, 4-2) who fell 34-17 to the No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones (9-3, 7-2) in the 2021 Playstation Fiesta Bowl. 

Oregon could not contain the Cyclones offense, getting just one stop in the first half and allowing touchdowns on the other four possessions. Meanwhile, the Ducks moved the ball well with Tyler Shough and Anthony Brown at quarterback but decided to roll with the Boston College transfer for most of the game. 

Oregon didn't punt the ball either in the first half but needed to settle for a field goal after Brown missed a wide-open Devon Williams in the endzone and got down two possessions after Iowa State recovered its own kickoff. 

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Here are the key takeaways from the game. 

The Good

Oregon has a kicker!

Henry Katleman may be the best Oregon kicker in years. He's perfect on field goals and extra points on the season and kicked a career-long 47-yard field goal from the right hashmark near the end of the first half Saturday. 

Shockingly, the Ducks nearly got a delay of game so Oregon iced its own kicker but it did not matter for the 'Katlemonster' who drained the attempt negated by the timeout and the one which counted. 

Mycah Pittman can be a go-to option next season.

 

Ever since his true freshman training camp, Pittman has been a candidate to break out anytime now but the sophomore has been dealing with injuries that have sidelined him. 

But in the Fiesta Bowl, he showed flashes of the player he can become with three receptions for 34 yards but his most impressive play didn't count in a back-shoulder touchdown from Brown. The score was called back as the Ducks offensive line held against a three-man rush. 

The Confusing

Has Oregon found its quarterback? Uhhhh...

Oregon clearly went into the Fiesta Bowl planning to play both Tyler Shough and Anthony Brown, like the Ducks did against USC in the Pac-12 Championship. 

However, as the saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks you have no quarterbacks. Clearly, the Ducks got the message and the staff decided to make Anthony Brown the full-time starter after Oregon's second offensive possession which ended in a Travis Dye fumble. Tyler Shough was 3-for-3 for 41 yards before being benched.

Meanwhile, Brown led the Ducks on a 98-yard touchdown drive in his first time as the full-time quarterback showing off nice accuracy past the sticks to move the chains. Then to close the half, Brown threw a back-shoulder touchdown to Mycah Pittman which was called back for holding by the Ducks right tackle. Then, Brown missed a wide-open Devon Williams in the endzone and needed to settle for a field goal. 

Despite Brown being a graduate transfer, the NCAA has paused all eligibility this season so the Boston College transfer can return in 2021, perhaps as Oregon's starting quarterback? 

Well, not likely, Shough did re-enter the game on two possessions before Brown entered the game again on a 3rd-and-short down. Both 3rd-downs ended with the Cyclones possessing the ball shortly after whether it was Brown fumbling or Oregon punting on fourth down. 

Shough later threw an interception against a floating linebacker on fourth down, trailing by 17. 

The Bad

The special teams return units were disasters.

For the second consecutive game, the Oregon kickoff return unit allowed the opponent to recover its own kickoff. USC executed an onside kick in the second half of the Pac-12 Championship and then in the Fiesta Bowl, Iowa State recovered the ball after DJ Johnson failed to fall on the pooch kick.

Both kicks were on the left side of Oregon's return unit. The Cyclones took advantage of the recovery to take a 14-point lead late in the first half. Instead of Oregon getting the ball down seven heading into halftime with another possession to open the second half, the Ducks didn't field an offense until it trailed by 14. 

Then in the third quarter, Oregon allowed Iowa State to recover its first punt of the game after the ball hit Mykael Wright. 

Oregon could not stop Iowa State.

Heading into the contest, Oregon knew it had its hands full with a very solid Iowa State offense led by quarterback Brock Purdy and the nation's leading rusher, Breece Hall. 

 

Well, talking about stopping it and doing so on the field are two different things as Oregon allowed the Cyclones to score on four of their five first-half possessions and didn't force a punt until the third quarter. After just two possessions, which both ended in touchdowns, Iowa State had won the time of possession battle in the first half having already held the ball for more than 15 minutes of game time. 

Junior linebacker Isaac Slade-Matauatia getting ejected for targeting did not help either as the Ducks needed to turn to walk-on Nick Wiebe to play snaps. 

The Ducks defense stepped up in the second half, but it was too little, too late. 

The Highlight

Iowa State had a perfect kickoff to retrieve its own kick.

The Stat

Oregon finished the game -5 in turnover differential. You will not win many games where you give away the ball more than you have scoring drives. 

The Quote

"There was enough clarity to start Tyler, which is what we did, but there was also enough... good play by Anthony to where we felt it merited him playing and that's what we did," said Mario Cristobal.