The Fiesta Bowl Is a Must-Win for Oregon and the Pac-12

David Marsh Editorials 79 Comments

In my very first article for FishDuck, I wrote about why Oregon would be the team to save the Pac-12 Conference. I wrote that this would require Oregon getting to the playoff and making it to the National Championship Game. But this year, with all of the unexpected setbacks from COVID-19, we have to settle for a non-playoff New Years Six game.

It was announced on Sunday that Oregon would be competing in the Fiesta Bowl against Iowa State. This will be the first time these two teams have met on the field.

This year, for most teams in the Pac-12, it doesn’t make sense to expose players to the stresses of additional practices, game prep and travel involved in a bowl game. It is better for most of the bowl-eligible programs to shut down their football program for player health and wait until the spring to restart practice.

So with all this chaos, and in a year when games only matter to the winners, why should Oregon bother with the Fiesta Bowl?

The Pac-12 Needs Oregon to Win the Fiesta Bowl

Sure it is a New Year’s Six game and comes with a much-needed monetary payout in a year in which all schools are dealing with budget shortfalls, but it isn’t a playoff game. Furthermore, it is against only the second-best team from the Big-12, which is all the more reason why Oregon needs to win.

University of Oregon Athletics

Jordon Scott with the Pac-12 Championship trophy after a major victory.

Oregon is coming off its second consecutive Pac-12 Championship, which is important to the program on many levels — from growing Oregon’s reputation as the leader of the Pac-12, to recruiting, to building a culture of winning throughout the program. It also helped to justify Mario Cristobal’s recent contract extension.

However, the Pac-12 Championship doesn’t hold a lot of meaning to the rest of the country. To the rest of the county, the Pac-12 Champion is merely the best team from a conference that is becoming a college football backwater. This is especially true in 2020, where the Pac-12 was the last conference to start its football season and was given little hope of reaching the playoff with such a reduced schedule.

In a normal year, a New Year’s Six win is important for a program and the conference. But this year it is even more important, as the Pac-12’s non-conference record currently stands at 1-0 (Colorado defeated San Diego State from the Mountain West Conference).

Normally, non-conference games are measuring sticks used to determine how each conference matches up to the others. With no non-conference Power Five match-ups to date, and Oregon and Colorado being the only two teams going bowling this year, the conference is desperate for national attention.

Oregon needs to play in the Fiesta Bowl and win it — not just for themselves, but for the Pac-12.

University of Oregon Athletics

Sean Dollars runs against USC during the 2020 Pac-12 Championship Game.

Building Up for Next Year

2020 has been a disappointing year for Ducks fans, and though we are thrilled to have won the Pac-12 Championship, it will always leave fans wondering what could have been. Despite all the difficulties of this year, the youngest team in the country has grown. New leaders have finally emerged, and this past week Oregon signed its best recruiting class in history. Oregon is primed for years of success.

A Fiesta Bowl victory would create hype for the 2021 Oregon team, a team that would be returning a majority of its starting talent and one that could make a run at the playoff. The offseason hype would only help Oregon coaches build on recent recruiting success. This hype is made even more important given that in-person contact with recruits looks unlikely until the summer due to the pandemic.

As Oregon continues to build they must win major bowl games to sustain their upward trajectory. College football talent is becoming more and more concentrated in just a few top teams. Oregon needs to prove it can be one of those teams in order to recruit the players that will put them in the national championship conversation.

Winning a championship is Cristobal’s end goal, and every year he needs to put Oregon in playoff contention. Only then will the Pac-12’s reputation begin to recover.

Oregon hasn’t been remotely close to playoff-caliber this year, but with a Fiesta Bowl win, could they be next year?

David Marsh
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo By: University of Oregon Athletics

Andrew Mueller, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.

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Must win? Hmmmm. College football is by its nature high school kids hopefully turning into to college graduate men.

Picking any game as must win ignores the time it takes for a coach to build out his roster and the rotational nature and limited career span of college football players.

No one game is defining. Every game is must win. It’s the nature of taking one game at a time

by elevating a single game to more than it is we lose sight of the transformation of a culture, the transformation of young players and the inherent challenges presented by graduation snd early departures.

It’s a must win because it’s the next game. It will not define the future but be a reinforcement of the good and another teaching moment hopefully building on previous gains. Trajectory is not determined by any single data point.

Must win cannot Lose is when you’re under 500 and the coaches job is on the line. This Fiesta bowl is a measuring stick if what this Oregon team looks like at 5-2 against a good looking 8-3.

Must win is Larry Scott needing a Hail Mary to save his reputation and the finances of the Conference.

It’s really only must win because it’s the next game, a big game, against a high quality opponent, and the measuring stick as to where this team is that day in Phoenix.


Is Andy Avalos leaving for HC of Boise State ??

Bryan Harsin (HC of Boise) is going to coach Auburn and Andy is one name at the top of the list to replace Bryan. When MC was asked about it he said that he has nothing to report.

Per the AutzenZoo

Jon Joseph

IF Avalos, a Boise ‘lifer,’ gets the offer, the man has to go. This would be a great step up, back to the place where the guy balled out.

Moorhead to KY? Senseless IMO. Avalos gong back home? This I would more than understand, And I do not not see Kellen Moore leaving an NFL career that is on a solid trajectory, returning to Boise?

Jon Joseph

Seethe below discussion. Andy is definitely in the mix. And CFB-wise, looks like Boise is trying to join the AAC?

No one was more critical of Boise ‘carrying’ the MW in CFB than was the now-off-to Auburn, Harsin,

And he was right. Boise has been carrying the MW for years. The G5, CFB $ is coming into the MW thanks to Boise. Thus, Boise is CFB smart enough to head off to the AAC.

It’s more than time for the Ducks to get the Pac-12 saddle off of Puddles back. THIS is beyond concern and now into survival mode for Oregon. 2 Pac-12 teams are going bowling. The COVID concern is now greater for USC than it was last Friday night? It’s not a bigger concern for CU than it is for the drop outs?

Sorry David Marsh, I love you, but come on man! If teams were that COVID-concerned USC and others would not have suited up to begin with. Now, they can’t play but they are more than happy to split the bowl $ with CU and Oregon? Teams that will not have its players going hoe for the Holidays? And a split of this $ among teams running for cover is going to make the Pac-12 also rans more relevant in CFB?

I’m mad as hell and I do not get why Oregon needs to take this junk anymore?

On every major sports network today the Pac 12 is not just an after-thought, it’s a running joke.

Yet Oregon not only survives, the Ducks, compared to other Pac-12 teams, thrives.

Does Oregon need this?


Jon, could you simplify your statement for me ??

Now, they can’t play but they are more than happy to split the bowl $ with CU and Oregon? Teams that will not have its players going hoe for the Holidays? And a split of this $ among teams running for cover is going to make the Pac-12 also rans more relevant in CFB?

Are you saying that other Pac-12 schools get a share in the money UO and CU get from their bowl games ??


Oregon Christmas courtesy Verone McKinley III:

“We already kind of had an idea we were going to be here, with the goals we had for the team. It’ll be with the guys and the coaches, nothing crazy. Back to work — we’ve got a game next week.”

Jon Joseph

Heck Yes! Like the Ducks kicked B12 K State in the Fiesta, do the same versus Iowa State,


Payton Pritchard and his Boston Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks in the season opener, bottom of the hour, on TNT.

Jon Joseph

Thank you my friend for getting ‘BOSTON’ in there.



Jon Joseph

I also believe the starting RT is dinged and out of the game?


It’s true. If you put a Husky fan in a room with a computer long enough it will eventually come up with something that makes sense.

How long until Power 5 turns into 4 and starts a new league? I could see USC & Oregon joining.

Jon Joseph

How long? I’m guessing 2024? And I hope Oregon will make the B12 invite list along with AZ, ASU, USC, UCLA and perhaps, CU and BYU?

I hope Oregon is smart enough not to toss its broadcast rights into the Pac-12 mix unless a favorable deal, which I don’t believe will happen, is ready to be signed. I know USC is going to hold back to see what the conference can score? I’m not sure it will be that much better than the sorry deals the conference has now?

Without a new big time deal, SC is gone. SC has the market and the cache to sign an NBC, Notre Dame-like deal. I can see NBC leading off with an early ND game followed by an SC game. With LA being the recruiting hotbed that it is, an independent SC will come up a sufficient # of football games. It’s the other sports that could be a problem for an independent SC?

Another logical move for SC would be to the B12 where teams control their 3rd tier media rights.

The B12 should logically expand west, not east, and the LHN network could will become the Big Whatever Network, owned and operated by ESPN.

What’s left of the Pac-12 will likely affiliate with the Mountain West. IMO, schools like WSU and Oregon State belong in the MW. They do not have the $ to compete at the P5 level and their respective location does nothing to move the media market needle.


SC Olympic sports would fit well with Big12, and travel would be no worse that getting up to Pullman.

Jon Joseph

Split into E and W divisions and travel away back E to Iowa and W VA would be the exception and not the rule.

Jon Joseph

Good points. The Utes and CU were also invited so Larry could save face after in your face from Texas.


Interesting that we missed out on two Oregon boy’s (Hufanga and Molden) and they both ended up first team defense two years in a row with Hufanga getting defensive player of year award this year.

I don’t recall, did we whiff on both of those guys because of the sudden Taggart departure?


Tracking back on Hufanga he never seemed to be interested in Oregon. He did live closer to Corvallis, so maybe anti-Duck was strong for him, he didn’t think the Beavs were quite right either, so he went to USC.

It’s interesting with the kids of Ducks, or any team actually. Bill Walton’s son went to Arizona. I can kind of understand why the child would resist to literally following their parent, quite different than brothers playing together, so Cota & Molden went elsewhere.

Jon Joseph

One thing I’d like to know? Where did Huf learn the art of tackling the punter? Man, THAT was a form tackle if I’ve ever seen one.


It’s a work in progress for the Trojans.

Jon Joseph

And let’s keep giving them the WHIP!


UCLA @ 24 Oregon, the home opener in conference play for the Ducks is today. 12:00 ESPN2


So, it looks like the game has been postponed, until 2:00.


Hmmmm…..postponed completely now. Not a good sign. I wonder if it’s UCLA or Oregon players with the positive test?


Just saw on the Oregonian it’s an official. Sheesh…..if it isn’t one thing it’s another. Hope he gets well soon.

Jon Sousa

Neither. it was an official. And the other two were disqualified for contact.

Jon Joseph

FINALLY, A Pac-12 ref crew DQ’d! Who knew?

What’s next is this crazy year?

Jon Joseph

The Athletic has made its 2020 AA team selections.

Hats off to Mr. T! 2nd team DE choice.

USC’s LB Hufanga was named to the 1st team D.

Iowa State RB Breece Hall was named 1st team RB. Cyclones LB Mike Rose was named 1st team LB. Rose finished 2020 with 90 tackles, 10 TFL.

Arizona has hired Patriot’s QB coach, Jedd Fisch, to replace Kevin Sumlin. This is as obscure a hire as CU going with Karl Dorrell, So far Dorrell’s hire is working out well for the Buffaloes. I note that Fisch did next to nothing in improving $CAM Newton’s game this season. Fisch does have prior experience coaching at UCLA. But still, with the job the HC did at San Jose State this season, this is a strange hire. The Navy coach was smart enough to stay at Navy.

Good news for Left Coast football. BYU destroyed UCF in last night’s Boca Raton Bowl game.


I can’t resist, but won’t the new coach be a Fisch out of water at Arizona? Good job, Navy Coach, Ken Niumatalolo for not boarding that sinking ship.

Jon Joseph

I refrained but I am glad you did not. This hire is going to keep all of the stud AZ HS players at home, right?

AZ is another school Oregon is carrying in football and now, also in basketball.

Since being added, what other than an AZ CBB title, a few CFB impact teams at ASU have these 2 and CU and Utah added to the Pac-8?

Ken N may leave Navy some day but not for a bottom feeder job in the Pac-12.

How about this for conference insult and injury? Willcox is supposedly a candidate for the Boise HC job?


Hopefully BSU hero alum Kellen Moore (currently Dallas Cowboys OC) is the leader for that job and I’m praying that’s the case, so that Avalos does not get into play.

Derek Mason? No, no, and no!

In 2010 Jim Harbaugh brought in Vic Fangio from the pros to replace co-DCs Ron Lynn and Andy Buh. Fangio overhauled a serviceable defense and made it elite. Mason was a secondary coach on that team. When Harbaugh left the next year for the 49ers he took Fangio with him, and Fangio transformed the 49ers defense as well, helping to get them to the Super Bowl in the early Harbaugh years.

David Shaw promoted Mason to DC, over other defensive coaches who had longer time in the program. Mason had the good sense to not screw up Fangio’s defense and players, and then scooted off to Vanderbilt after a couple solid years. He promptly employed Fangio’s principles @ Vanderbilt to upgrade their defense but could never get any real traction on offense. He’s left the Commodores in a mess.


I hope they go after QB hero Moore, who I believe would be thrilled at the chance to get out of Dallas and away from Jimmy Jones. Your analysis of Mason looks to back up your, “No, no and no!”

Jon Joseph

Interesting thoughts on Mason.

Apparently Moore wants to go the NFL route?

When but for a brief few years was Vandy not a mess. And a bunch of goys on Franklin’s half-decent Vandy teams got into big time trouble; jail time trouble.

Jon Joseph

Good call. Kelly was an NFL GM; NFL coach?

Jon Joseph

Well, Auburn got their man and he is a Left Coast guy. Bryan Harsin is making a BIG step up from Boise to Auburn. With lots of good G5 candidates down south and lots of quality P5 assistants down south, I am surprised at this hire? Also, while he has recruited well by G5/MW standards, Harsin has not gone for a swim in the cauldron that is SEC recruiting. Best of luck Bryan.

There is also a strong rumor out there that in 2021 Boise will be moving to the AAC as a football member only. As I just discussed with Commander in Chief, Mr. Fish Duck, Andy Avalos has to be way up there on the Boise new HC hire radar screen.

If Andy makes what likely would be a very logical career move for him, Charles wisely suggests that Mario go hard after recently fired Vandy HC, Derek Mason. Mason did a great job at Stanford. The Cardinal D has not been the same since Derek departed. And even with the difficult admission hurdles at Stanford, Mason did recruit some top drawer D guys. Vandy playing football in the SEC is a no win situation, even for a resurrected Bear Bryant.

Sherman Poindexter

I think Oregon beating Iowa State would merely be a temporary salve to a critically ill patient.
“Doctor! We’re going code here!”
“For crying out loud Nurse, get me 200 cc’s of epinephrine and a crash cart, stat!”

The only thing that’s gonna save Oregon (and by extension, the rest of the PAC 12) is $$$MONEY$$$

Haven’t ya heard? In the college football game these days, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Kinda a microcosm of society, if you will.

For the last 1/2 decade, the PAC 12 has been bruised & bloodied.
Poor play.
Bad coaching.
Recruiting failures.
Not adopting SEC scheduling (8 team conference play)
A network tv deal disaster.
And the worst leadership of any college football conference. (Thanks Larry! 😉)

A Fiesta Bowl victory will be welcome, to be sure.
And every opportunity to get the Ducks on national tv is a bonus.

But money…..MONEY…. spread out to conference also-rans would put those programs on stronger footing. Give them the resources to put a better product on the field.
A better product means that:
Washington St doesn’t lose to Air Force
Oregon St doesn’t lose to Oklahoma St
UCLA doesn’t lose to San Diego St

When our teams pummel out of conference teams for a few years….then we’ll get back a little of that lost luster.
Having 1 team (Oregon or USC or Washington) being the beaten up banner carrier for a weak conference is doing NOTHING to turn our respective fortunes and image around.

Solve the money problem.
Get the PAC 12 on equal financial footing with the Big 10.
Get an enterprising leader who doesn’t screw up everything from officiating to tv deals to even something as basic as having a positive relationship with your conference universities.
Then come talk to me about the Fiesta Bowl.

Cause right now….this conference is on life support.


Jon Sousa

And in achieving all that you correctly state above, an excellent first step is what the article is all about.

GOING to the Fiesta Bowl is a huge step towards exactly what you are saying: “MONEY!”

WINNING the Fiesta Bowl is the first big step to getting the Ducks into the playoffs next year… and MORE MONEY!

Winning the Fiesta Bowl this year puts more eyes on the Ducks next year. That is basically all the Ducks can do this year.

What the rest of the conference can do next year is win their OOC schedule. The more the conference wins, the more likely we put a team in the playoffs and the more likely we put a second team in a NY6 game.

Sooooooo, Let’s have the Ducks get this win! Lose it and there is LESS interest and respect for the PAC 12.

Jon Joseph

Good points Jon. The problem, Oregon has to share this $ with a bunch of schools unable and/or unwilling to compete at the P5 level.

Jedd Fisch, Arizona? Really?

Jon Sousa

Precisely, Jon (I love the way you spell your name). I was speaking to what Sherman said. He said this: But money…..MONEY…. spread out to conference also-rans would put those programs on stronger footing. Give them the resources to put a better product on the field.

So, yes. We acknowledge that the money is spread around. “For better, or for worse…”

Jon Joseph

Jon, giving more $ to Arizona and Oregon State is going to make a difference?

More $ to CAL means that fans will actually show up for the games?

The $ headed to AZ will likely help the CBB, NCAA hit?

Jon Sousa

Going to have to take that up with Sherman. I have no horse in that race.

Jon Joseph

You missed UCLA losing back to back to Cincinnati, among other embarrassing defeats for the conference.

Spot On! It’s all about the Benji’s.


I agree in principle Sherman but have another view on the details. The Fiesta Bowl is important to Oregon and I think Oregon alone. The program gets a nice recognition bounce with a win and face plants the season with a loss.

Money certainly can fix a lot of things. But at this point with the conference rudderless and mutiny looking like a real possibility what is the point of seeking monetary solutions for the conference, many members of which are and have been borderline insolvent for sometime?

I never thought I would think, let alone speak this, but I really think the Pac12 should dissolve.

I see (I dislike using that wording, sounds like I’m consulting a crystal ball) I see a couple of big changes on the horizon for college football.

The playoff as it now stands will either change drastically, becoming a greatly expanded 8 to 16 team tournament featuring all conference champs or not and the college game will continue transitioning to a regional interest. If the latter happens Oregon and other western schools can scale back their budgets by joining the Big Sky and the fans thrill to beating PSU.

A second change could be a sort of pay to play scenario in which a super division featuring all the usual suspects; Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame and any other school willing pony up and join the club. This be like the AAA+ conference divided into divisions geographically. The Moët for such a conference’s media rights would be astronomical.

To cut to the chase, yes win the Fiesta but win it for your coaches, your team mates, your fans. Then look around and get the best conference affiliation you can and screw the Pac12 all Oregon seems to get out it is backhanded compliments and the pleasure of sharing funds with a bunch of under achievers.

Jon Joseph

Maybe that’s where this is all headed? the ‘top’32 teams each adopted by an NFL team?


Nah, it’s ebb and flow. The tide has ebbed for many a year now. I think it will start to come in again.

I don’t see as dire a situation as many of you on here.

The dire situation I see is the ESPN/SEC/ACC monopoly.

There is an easy solve for it. Abandon THAT ship, NOT the Pac 12 ship. Might even be able to get the Big10 to abandon and if that is the case then the monopoly will have to dissolve or only be relevant to the SE portion of the country, which may work well for everyone anyway.

But I do agree with David….we need to win this game. Winning is usually the solution to most problems in sports.

Jon Joseph

CJ, follow the $. It’s not flowing west.

The question is, will there be a ship or a row boat that is abandoned?

The B!G has mucho dinero. It distributed more to its teams last season than did the SEC. And the B1G will score again in the next media go round.


Not so sure Oregon needs to win for the PAC 12. Young teams make mistakes and take time to develop and this young team is showing signs of growth. That is what everyone wants to see.

This team is capable of winning this game. That is exciting to me when the majority of starters are freshman and sophomores. Winning this game doesn’t make or break this team, or the PAC 12. However, if they win this game the PAC 12 will have their hands full trying to beat these guys in the future.

Jon Joseph

Young team, schmung team. Win the damn game! Oregon’s roster is every bit the quality of Iowa State’s roster.

Iowa State did have a good year but it lost to a Sun Belt team. Brock Purdy is a game manager QB at best. Stop the run game and you stop the IA ST O. The O has big guys at TE but none of them are speedy or come close to a guy like Kyle Pitts at Florida.

Oregon has a decided edge in speed in this match up.

The Oregon young guys have played 5 games together and have sufficient time to prepare for the Cyclones.

I respect your comment Drake, but I see no reason why Oregon if there are not big COVID problems and if properly prepared and fired up to play, as the players should be, should not win this game.

If you cannot defeat the Iowa State’s of CFB world how are going to defeat Oklahoma, let alone Bama, Clemson and Ohio State?

Jon Sousa

Excellent point, my friend. No good reason to lose this game. “Put up, or shut up.” Time to take another step forward.

The great unknown for the game and for this whole season is COVID. I was surprised to hear that Oregon barely had over the required 53 scholarship players available for the Championship Game. Many players, some of them very important, sat out the various games throughout the season and we never even realized the impact this had on the games and the players (in and out). Example: Pittman missed two games for no stated reason. A guy in the rotation is practicing all week and then someone else has to go into the game because of a contact protocol???

Were the Ducks ever playing at full strength this year?? Will they play at full strength on January 2??? Have we been too hard on the team, not knowing what on earth they were going through?

Jon Joseph

Good thoughts Joxn.

Unlike the NFL, the ‘injury’ and ‘not able to perform’ disclosures in CFB are few and far between.

Jon Joseph

Thank you David. And spot on with needing this W!

With many Pac-12 teams opting out of bowls, the conference bowl season comes down to 2 Pac-12 teams against 2 B12 teams. CU vs TX and OR vs IA ST.

While I wholly admire and respect the job Karl Dorrell has done as the HC of the Buffaloes, with stud CU LB, Nate Landsman, out of this game and with it being UT QB Sam Ehlinger’s last game in a Longhorns uni, and with the game being played down the road from Austin; well. good luck Buffs. CU is -12.5 and I am betting Texas to cover. Landsman going down against Utah changed the entire calculus of the game. Without Landsman, the CU D could not get the Utes off the field.

So yes, in a year that further diminishes respect for the conference the Ducks best show up prepared to play and win this game. (BTW, except for watching the broadcasts, what choice does 1 have, I’m done with all things ESPN after Reece Davis led the laughter when the conference was first mentioned 2 and a half hours into the Selection Show The FOX Big Noon pre-game offering is a far better, far less hackneyed, far less stale, far more balanced, CFB lead-in show)

A few Iowa State factoids.

The Cyclones last won a conference title in 1912, when it won the Missouri Valley Conference. This title came with a resume similar to this season’s UW team. The Cyclones champ team played 2 conference games in 1912, coming up with Ws vs Drake (related to Puddles?) and the MIZZOU Tigers. Perhaps Iowa State’s futility arises out of having the name ‘Cyclones?’ Cyclones do not appear in the northern hemisphere.

Iowa State produced the B12 player of the year on O, RB Breece Hall, and the D player of the year, LB Mike Rose. Hall led the FBS in rushing this season. Our good buddy (?) Todd McShay says that Hall is arguably the best RB in the nation. Rose led the B12 with 4 interceptions.

The Cyclones excellent starting safety, Young, was ejected early in the 1st Q of the B12 champ game for targeting, and he will miss the 1st half of the Fiesta Bowl against the Ducks.

1 of the 3 Ls No. 10 IA ST suffered in 2020 came at home against No.19 Sun Belt member, Louisiana.

In order to best compete against the dynamic B12 O’s, Iowa State plays the 3-3-5 as its base D. Coming into the B12 champ game, IA ST at 44%, had the nation’s 2nd best goal-to-go D behind only Northwestern. Iowa State played more games than did NW.

The IA ST FG kicker is adequate, not great. His career long is from 50 yards out and he missed a 47 yarder early in the B12 champ game when OK was up 14-0. IA ST has had many special teams problems in 2020; especially, on kick offs.

IA ST plays a run oriented, TE oriented O. The Cyclones often have 3 TEs on the field, with the shortest of this trio coming in at 6’6″. All 3 of these guys were solid BBall players in HS, know how to box out and can go up in the air to catch the ball.

QB Brock Purdy is yet another Arizona player who left the state to play his college ball.( In the last 3 recruiting cycles, only 3 of the top 38 ranked HS players in Arizona have matriculated at AZ or ASU.) Purdy is a game manager. He is a tough competitor but he is hot and cold in the passing game. His 3 INTs in the B12 champ game doomed the Cyclones.

Make no mistake. This is a resilient team that will ball out until the end of the game. Down 17-0 against OK in the champ game, IA ST had the ball down six and was driving for the winning score before Purdy threw his 3rd INT. This is a HUGE game for an Iowa State program that has never played on New Year’s Day or in a NY6 bowl. These boys from corn country will be fired up.

In 2020 IA ST went 3-1 on the road and 2-3 against the top 25. IA ST had an opening game home L against No. 19 Louisiana, went 1-1 against No. 6 OK, defeated No. 20 TX in Austin and suffered a 3 point L against No. 21 OK ST. 2020 was the first time that IA ST defeated both TX and OK in the same season.

An SEC crew will referee the Fiesta Bowl.

Oregon should have a significant speed advantage in this game.

The line is now Ducks +4. I have yet to see any ‘expert’ predicting the Ducks to win this game. But I also did not see a single one, excluding the Wizard of Odds, who picked the Ducks to defeat USC.



Excellent research, thanks Jon!

Jon Joseph

You are welcome my friend.

Jon Joseph

Excellent description of what this game is likely to be? I would love a half-point win in this game. You are so right; the Ducks has to win this game to salvage any conference pride in 2020. And it has to win after being laughed at for pinch hitting in the conference champ game.

I wonder why the Ducks should split NY6 $ with a number of conference teams that opted out of a bowl game?

Steven A

Not to nit-pick, but I thought a targeting penalty in the first half you sit for the rest of that game. In the second half, you sit for the first half of the next game.

Jon Joseph

He did have to sit out the remainder of the B12 champ game after he was tossed out.

But he is also penalized with missing the 1st half of the next game. And IMO, it wasn’t targeting.


With the way the Ducks played USC and Oregon State, its easy to see that this game will be a mental game. Which Duck team will show up for the Fiesta Bowl ??


I have to comment on the picture you chose for your article. Note the SC lineman on his back after being dominated by KT at the point of attack. Once he gains leverage and momentum, it is over. He is relentless. Am I wrong, or does it seem like KT has his best games on natural grass?


One guy laying down, the other bowing down and Slovis bailing. The photos Fishduck uses are often almost as good as the writing, but always speak loudly.


IMO, the Pac-12 is finished as a P5 conference because of Larry Scott and friends. What the Ducks do or don’t do in this bowl game has no affect on that. The outcome is not going to change the next round of TV negotiations or how ESPN looks/treats the Pac-12 now or in the future.

The only thing that is affected by the outcome of the Fiesta bowl is the University of Oregon and it’s own reputation as a football power.

Jon Joseph

It’s finished, unless Larry can pull the biggest media rabbit of all time out of his hat. Which seems to have been the conference media strategy from the get-go?

Starting a network without a media partner and without agreements in place with major cable providers? Guess what Larry, at Hahvahd B School this ‘strategy’ would result in a solid ‘F.’

And for these guys to say ‘NO’ to ESPN’s offer in 2019, an offer that if accepted, would have ESPN marketing the network and the Pac-12 network being marketed by CFB media cartel ESPN and the network up on DirecTV and other major carriers? Brilliant!

Now, with ESPN coming most large with the payment for the principal SEC football broadcast rights there is no certainty that ESPN will have any desire to match the 2019 offer. And with ABC and all the ESPN channels, including the SEC network, focusing on SEC games, decent broadcast windows for Pac-12 game broadcasts post-2024 are close to gone. Ready for breakfast and brunch tail-gates?

If the Pac-12 was a public company it would rate a solid ‘SELL’ recommendation and the conference ‘Board of Directors’ would be long gone at the hands of a shareholder uprising.

Waiting for the conference to score a big time media deal(s) in 2024 is like Waiting For Godot. USC will be going. going gone. And my guess is that the B12 would be happy to take in the Arizona schools, USC, UCLA and welcome back CU? Maybe toss in Cincinnati?

But hey, with Boise likely to join the AAC as a football member, maybe Oregon can take Boise’s place in the Mountain West?

The Conference of Champions is on financial life support.


I think we must show up and be exciting and dynamic, and I am not just talking about the uniforms. Oregon is known for being an innovative program and we need to present this to the nation, again.

What Cristobal is taking advantage of is Oregon’s reputation for being a program that you want to watch and become part of. It is imperative that Oregon continue that legacy in the Fiesta Bowl. If Oregon lights it up, then who knows what next season will bring.

If Oregon has too many three and outs, I won’t even go into why, then the dial on the Oregon program will be turned down, not off, but down.

The trajectory of the program is in the right direction, the Fiesta Bowl is just a chance to show the nation how steep we are headed up. The bowl game is a chance to convince the next DAT, and or Ngata to sign on and give us the next title run. This game is a chance to really highlight how good Oregon is and how much fun it is to be a Duck!


David, you are right. How goest the Ducks, goest the Pac-12. Most of the country has just gone away from the Pac-12, but Oregon is a Brand, and does get attention. It’s hard carrying the weight, across the sports, but the Ducks have taken it on.

It sure looked like they wanted it more in the game against USC, the Trojans were just hot air. But I expect the Cyclones, for whom this is the biggest game they have ever played, to come out firing. The Ducks need to match that, not just act like they’ve been there before, but show the Cyclones how its done.


As you say the Ducks need a big game in this Fiesta Bowl in order to win. Spot on.

Jon Joseph

30, as I have noted before, the conference should be asking Puddles if he prefers an English or Western saddle?

I still find it difficult to believe that SC opted out of the Alamo Bowl? LOSERS!

Jon Joseph

David, please see above. Sorry, but what’s new now in terms of protocols that wasn’t before Friday night?

This IMO is a lay down by SC, Off to Shreveport, I get it. But sitting out the Alamo Bowl?

The Ducks showed up to play SC with 53/54 guys able to play. This decision by SC IMO is CS.


You finish, David by saying “Oregon hasn’t been remotely close to playoff-caliber this year, but with a Fiesta Bowl win, could they be next year?” As I see it that is the crux of the matter and a simple reality. On this board and others, following the OSU and Cal games, my story changed to WUNY – Wait Until Next Year, because even for the hopeful it was obvious then the Ducks had some growing to do.

The PAC12 is a mess. The outcome of the Fiesta Bowl will not change that. Larry Scott is a hot mess, and even a Fiesta Bowl in Glendale won’t change that. A win and Bowl trophy will put a punctuation mark on the 2020. The season will end on a very positive note leading into off season strength and conditioning and rehabilitation. It sets the bar higher for the incoming class of recruits.

I was wrong preseason to expect so much from the 2020 Ducks team. The excitement of Joe Moorhead directing the offense, the performance of the 2019 defense and the star talent level intoxicated me. Those who said, “not this year, it’s too soon” were right, and the uncertainties and challenges of playing a season with a virus pandemic were back then unknown and unaccounted for.

The Ducks can win the Fiesta Bowl game. Leaders are stepping up. Blocking and tackling are improving. With added preparation time from the weekly grind of the season the coaches should have a strong game plan. There are no excuses and the players must play the game and win to become champions.

Won’t everyone, players, coaches and fans have a better off season with a big win? In reality this is only a football game. Many people are facing real threats to their health and livelihood. The best lessons in sports are resilience, humility and sportsmanship. There is wisdom in being a graceful winner and loser alike.



So true, Brent, very well said.

Jon Joseph

Great take! Growing up in Boston back-in-the-day I am well aware of what WUNY refers to. Of course, in Boston it was more: WWUBBNY.

When will you bums beat New York!