Special teams can be overlooked at times but good special teams can be an unexpected difference in a football game. Iowa State found that out as the Big 12 champs took advantage of a couple massive special teams plays to beat Oregon 34-17 in the Fiesta Bowl.
Their first special teams breakthrough inevitably became the turning point of the game. After Oregon tied things at 14 with over three minutes in the first half, the Cyclones took a minute and a half to get the touchdown and the lead. After their score, a short kick that originally looked like it was going to shank out of bounds wound up being an onside kick opportunity. The ball fell in between a couple Oregon players while bouncing back, helping Iowa State fall on the ball. Iowa State would score 17 seconds later to go up 28-14 before the Ducks kicked a field goal to end the half.
— Homer J Simpson (@simpsonhomerj1) January 2, 2021
Iowa State continued that early in the second half. Oregon muffed the punt and as the ball bounced off the helmet of an Oregon player, Iowa State got their second big special teams recovery. This resulted in a field goal.
Iowa State special teams is on it today. pic.twitter.com/Hdwt0chDQh
— Phillip Bupp (@phillipbupp) January 3, 2021
Special teams wasn’t the only thing up to par on the Iowa State side. Turnovers also helped the Cyclones get the win as the defense got three turnovers along with the punt fumble recovery. The turnovers may not have resulted in many points on the board but it helped Iowa State control the time of possession and keep Oregon from making a comeback. With a 42:48 time of possession, it’s mighty difficult for a team to make up a double-digit deficit and those things ultimately gave the Cyclones the big win.
Despite the difficult season, this was one of Iowa State’s best years. The Fiesta Bowl win was certainly the biggest bowl win in the history of the program and the Cyclones tied their best record (9-3 in 2000) in history.