Fiesta Bowl Set, Guaranteed Rate Bowl Cancelled

Iowa State lost the Big 12 football championship game to Oklahoma on Saturday, but the Cyclones on Sunday received something of a reward for their first regular season conference title with a spot in the 50th PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.

It’s No. 10 Iowa State’s first January bowl game in program history. The Cyclones (8-3) will face No. 25 Oregon, the Pac-12 champion, on January 2 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. local time.

The Ducks (4-2) were invited after their 31-24 win over then-No. 13 USC in the Pac-12 title game on Friday night.

The College Football Playoff field was set Sunday morning. Alabama (11-0) and Clemson (10-1) were the first two teams in. Ohio State (6-0) was third and will play Clemson, and Notre Dame (10-1) was the last team to get into the final four, over Texas A&M and No. 6 Oklahoma.

Alabama and Notre Dame meet in the first CFP semifinal at 2 p.m. Arizona time on New Year’s Day, which would have been the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., but has been moved to Arlington, Texas, to allow fans to watch in person. Ohio State-Clemson is the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans at 6 p.m.

The other three New Year’s Six bowl games, along with the Fiesta Bowl, are Oklahoma and No. 7 Florida in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 30, No. 8 Cincinnati vs. No. 9 Georgia in the Peach Bowl on Jan. 1 and No. 5 Texas A&M against No. 13 North Carolina on Jan. 2 in the Orange Bowl.

The other bowl game played in the Valley, the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, was cancelled due to “unprecedented ramifications from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a statement from the Fiesta Bowl organizers. The game was to be held in Phoenix at Chase Field on Dec. 26.

Bowl organizers released a statement Sunday after the announcement of which teams would be taking part was delayed.

“We were excited to host two quality institutions and stage a memorable experience for all involved. This is a disappointing result for our organization, community partners, sponsors, fans, staff and volunteers. A lot of care and thoughtful work has gone into planning, adjusting and executing an event of this stature.”

The Guaranteed Rate Bowl, formerly the Cheez-It Bowl, Cactus Bowl and Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, plans to return in 2021 with its agreed-upon tie-in of a Big Ten team against a Big 12 program.

The Fiesta Bowl has decided no fans will be permitted to attend other than immediate families of the players. The game will be shown live on ESPN.

Iowa State is in the Fiesta Bowl for the first time in program history. Oregon is making its third appearance with wins over Colorado (2002) and Kansas State (2013) in its first two. The two programs have never played each other.

The game figures to see a matchup of two quarterbacks with Valley ties. Iowa State junior Brock Purdy starred at Gilbert Perry High School, while the Ducks’ Tyler Shough, a sophomore, has been Oregon’s starter this season after his prep career at Chandler Hamilton.

“Brock is one of those young men who has really led from Day 1 when he stepped on this campus,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said in a video conference on Sunday. “Brock is a young man that came in with all those intangibles that he had from Perry High School and has really led our program from Day 1.”

Purdy has thrown for 8,826 yards and 61 touchdowns in three seasons at Iowa State. He has 900 career rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.

Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal has guided the Ducks to back-to-back Pac-12 championships. After taking last year’s title, Oregon won the 2020 Rose Bowl 28-27 over Wisconsin and has built a solid recruiting base over the years in Arizona.

Top wide receiver Johnny Johnson III is from Chandler, and the Ducks added one of the state’s top high school players on National Signing Day last week in quarterback Ty Thompson from Gilbert Mesquite.

Shough is in his first season as the starter. He has two 300-yard games as part of his 1,480 passing yards this season, to go with 13 touchdown passes, and has rushed for 263 yards and two scores.

“We think the high school football in Arizona is off the charts,” Cristobal said. “They have great players, elite talent, they have elite coaching, top programs that compete at the national level. So I think the opportunity to have an appearance there, especially for some of our guys that are from the state, in front of their friends and family, it’s a tremendous opportunity. We want to continue to recruit that area hard. It means a lot to us, it’s extremely important to us, and it will make up a good percentage of our roster going forward.”

Click here to learn more about the Fiesta Bowl.