No. 8 Oregon and No. 18 Liberty square off in Fiesta Bowl

Sun, Dec 31, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)

No. 8 Oregon and No. 18 Liberty square off in Fiesta Bowl

No. 18 Liberty (13-0, CUSA) vs No. 8 Oregon (11-2, Pac-12), Jan. 1, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)

FanDuel Sportsbook College Line: Oregon by 17 1/2

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT'S AT STAKE?

Other news No. 18 Liberty to face stiffest test yet against No. 8 Oregon in Fiesta Bowl QB Nussmeier, No. 13 LSU ready to launch post-Jayden Daniels era in ReliaQuest Bowl vs Wisconsin Defensive-minded No. 20 Iowa, offensive-driven No. 25 Tennessee offer clash of styles in Citrus Bowl

Oregon is looking to finish the season strong after just missing the College Football Playoff. The Ducks lost twice to No. 2 Washington, one of four CFP teams, by a combined six points. Oregon is No. 8 in the CFP rankings. Liberty is playing in its fifth straight bowl game since becoming a Division I program in 2018. The Flames are the first Conference USA team to play in a New Year's Six bowl game, doing it in their first year in the league.

KEY MATCHUP

Liberty's defense vs. Oregon QB Bo Nix. A Heisman Trophy finalist, Nix threw for 4,145 yards and 40 TDs with three interceptions this season. His completion rate of 77.2% is right behind the NCAA single-season record of 77.4% set by Alabama's Mac Jones in 2020. Liberty led the nation with 21 interceptions, but will need to get pressure on Nix against the FBS' top-rated offensive line.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Liberty: QB Kaidon Salter. A threat with his arm and legs, Salter set Liberty single-season records with 31 TDs passing while accounting for 43 scores. He has thrown for 2,750 yards and added 1,069 more on the ground.

Oregon: RB Bucky Irving. While Nix has gotten the most attention, Irving has driven up his draft stock by running for 1,063 yards and 10 touchdowns in one of the nation's best passing offenses. Irving declared for the NFL draft shortly after the Ducks were invited to play in the Fiesta Bowl, but said he will be play in the game.

FACTS & FIGURES

Liberty is 3-1 in bowl games, losing 21-19 to Toledo in last year's Boca Raton Bowl. ... Oregon is 2-1 in the Fiesta Bowl, with wins over Colorado in 2002 and Kansas State in 2013. The Ducks lost to Iowa State in the 2021 game. ... The Flames led the nation with 302.9 yards rushing per game, more than 20 yards per game ahead of Air Force, the next closest team. ... Oregon's rushing defense is 12th nationally, allowing 97.5 yards per game. ... Oregon (526.6) and Liberty (514.9) are second and third nationally in total offense. ... Liberty is playing a football game in January for the first time.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

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