Takeaways: Purdy’s homecoming and new records lead to Fiesta Bowl win

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy throws a short pass against No. 25 Oregon in the 2020 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.

Matt Belinson

Breece Hall came to Iowa State for moments like Saturday’s 34-17 Fiesta Bowl victory over Oregon.

A program that has long been a laughing stock of college football and seen as a “death sentence to coach” according to Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell has reached another program milestone in its dominating Fiesta Bowl victory.

But the chance to overcome the decades of misfortune, lopsided defeats and new coaching regimes is exactly why Hall came to Ames. It paid off Saturday.

“That’s the reason why I came here, just me seeing and envisioning Coach [Matt] Campbell’s vision, and then seeing how Brock [Purdy] wanted to change. I wanted to come here and just add to that,” Hall said.

If one theme came away from Iowa State’s 2020 season, it would be that history was made. The season finale in the Fiesta Bowl was no different.

Brock Purdy comes home to earn some hardware

Growing up 40 minutes from State Farm Stadium as a kid in Gilbert, Arizona, Brock Purdy said he had goosebumps heading into the stadium for the 2021 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.

After watching the Fiesta Bowl as an Arizona kid for most of his life, Purdy knew Saturday would be filled with memories and plenty of admitted jitters for a kid who dreamed of one day playing on this stage.

The goosebumps didn’t show up in the box score for the junior quarterback on Saturday.

Purdy ended the game 20-29 with 156 yards and one touchdown. He also had nine rushes for 43 yards and a touchdown run. With that stat-line, Purdy was named the 2021 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Offensive Player of the Game.

Purdy did his best to not let the outside noise creep in after the Dec. 19 loss and was glad to be able to deliver for his team once again.

“And so I was able to flush whatever happened in the past and learn from all the stuff throughout the season, and I’m just glad that I was able to finish and capitalize in our last game of the season. So it meant a lot to me,” Purdy said.

After his Big 12 Championship performance (27-40, 322 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions), Purdy said he went back and dissected his play from the loss to Oklahoma. Purdy said if he knew if he tweaked a few parts of his game, Iowa State would be able to win on Saturday.

Campbell said Purdy’s postgame honors and his performance on the field personified everything he loves about him.

His poise. His talent. His leadership. Campbell gave all the credit to Purdy for his faith in what Iowa State was trying to build and his steadiness along the way.

“You know, what Brock has done now in three years as the starting quarterback here, again, it’s never been done. And Brock Purdy from Day 1, Game 1, every game we played, he’s given us a chance to be successful. And without Brock Purdy, there’s no Fiesta Bowl, there’s no Iowa State. We are who we are because of the leadership and the character and the humility of Brock Purdy,” Campbell said. “And you know what? I couldn’t think of a greater way for Brock to end his junior year, and I couldn’t think of a greater way for this football team to etch its name in the history books of Iowa State football than for Brock Purdy to come home and to win the Fiesta Bowl and be the offensive M.V.P. And so I’m so happy for him. I’m happy for his family.

Controlling time of possession

The Cyclones didn’t go into Saturday’s game with the plan of beating Oregon 42:48 to 17:12 in time of possession. It’s just how the game turned out. 

And the Cyclones didn’t mind.

Purdy said that Iowa State’s offense got into a great rhythm early on, leading to its four touchdowns in the first half. The long, methodical drives that ate away at Oregon were not by design, but Purdy said Iowa State will take any way it takes to win a given game.

“No matter how many plays it was going to take for that drive, everyone did their job,” Purdy said. “And we were able to score some touchdowns early in the game, and that really just set us up for success, and that’s just how it went.”

To keep in line with its record-setting year, Iowa State set Fiesta Bowl records in terms of time of possession over the Ducks.

Iowa State’s 42:48 time of possession became the most in Fiesta Bowl history, beating the old mark set by Stanford’s 41:47 against Oklahoma State in 2012.

The 25:36 differential also became the most in Fiesta Bowl history, replacing the 23:34 differential set by Stanford against Oklahoma State in 2012.

Iowa State “out-coaches” Oregon on third-down

Iowa State’s defense shut down Oregon in the 2021 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. No really.

Oregon went 0-6 on third-down conversions, marking the first time ever a team didn’t convert on third down in Fiesta Bowl history. 

By allowing zero allowed third-down conversions, Iowa State’s defense put itself in Fiesta Bowl record books. The record replaced Pittsburgh’s one allowed conversion in 1973 and Florida State’s one conversion in 1999.

The Ducks came into Saturday’s game ranked No. 20 in the country in third down conversion percentage at 47.1 percent.

Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said Iowa State took control in the second half and never gave Oregon a chance to claw back into the game. On their six drives in the second half, the Ducks punted three times and turned the ball over the other three.

“Certainly, they outplayed us and they out-coached us on third down. They certainly did,” Cristobal said.