May 25, 2024

Oregon trying to make a statement in Fiesta Bowl against Liberty

Fiesta Bowl, Oregon Ducks Football, Liberty Football

(Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

Although this bowl season isn’t full of tasty matchups, there’s one in particular kicking off this afternoon that’s intriguing to the fans.

The Fiesta Bowl will feature Oregon against an undefeated Liberty squad, and everyone is expecting an offensive shootout. After all, the Ducks have one of the most potent offenses in the country, and the Flames are averaging 40.8 points per game, which is fifth-best in the FBS.

Both teams will be looking to make a statement in Glendale, but the pressure will be on Coach Dan Lanning to close out Oregon’s season on a high note. The Ducks were on a six-game win streak before they lost to Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Now Lanning is out to prove the Ducks last game was a fluke.

It helps that Lanning will have All-Pac-12 quarterback Bo Nix behind center for this clash. It’s going to be Nix’s final game as a student athlete, and he can improve his NFL Draft stock with a stellar performance. He leads the nation in completion percentage, and is second in passing efficiency. Nix is the kind of quarterback that makes others around him better, and the rest of the offense always builds off his energy.

He’ll also have 1,000-yard rusher Bucky Irving to hand the ball off to in the backfield, so Liberty should be expecting some explosive plays. There’s no denying the Pac-12 was the most complete Power Five conference this season, and that should benefit the Ducks in this game.

The pressure will be on Oregon’s defense though, after surrendering 34 points to Washington. Liberty Coach Jamey Chadwell is no stranger to producing double-digit win campaigns, considering he had a couple at Coastal Carolina. Chadwell watched film from both of Oregon’s losses to Washington, and will look to exploit some weaknesses.

The Flames have the offense to give the Ducks some problems too. Quarterback Kaidon Salter has passed for 2,750 yards, 31 touchdowns and five interceptions. Running back has rushed for 1,322 yards and a jaw-dropping, 16 touchdowns. Not to mention wideout C.J. Daniels has hauled in 47 passes for 988 yards and 10 score. On top of that, Daniels has averaged 21 yards per catch, so he has the ability to stretch the field on Oregon’s defense.

Lanning is a defensive guru though, and should have his players up to the task. Taking down the best Group of Five team will generate positive momentum for the Ducks’ offseason. Lanning has an opportunity to lead Oregon to back-to-back bowl wins for the first time since 2018-19. Most importantly, the Ducks can give the Big Ten a taste of what they’re going to bring to the conference next season. So motivation shouldn’t be an issue.

Chadwell has a chance to complete an undefeated season, which will bring a lot of attention to the smaller schools. Regardless of the matter, something has to give in this battle of high-flying offenses, and the team that has the ball last will likely come out this game victorious.