College Football Rose Bowl Game Breakdown

Iowa vs. Stanford, Rose Bowl, January 1st

 Iowa returns to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the conclusion of the 1990 season. The Hawkeyes, and Hawkeye nation, will be ready for this one. Iowa has been to some major bowls lately, but the Rose Bowl is different and this is a program that wants to prove that their 12-0 regular season record was no fluke and that they are among the best teams, and programs, in the country.

In order to do that, they will need to get past a very talented Stanford team. The Cardinal are coming off of a Pac-12 title game victory over USC and are coming into the Rose Bowl with an 11-2 overall record, with those losses coming at Northwestern in week one and Oregon at home in November. With wins over USC (twice), Notre Dame and UCLA, this is a well-tested Stanford team.

A lot has been, and will continue to be, said about Iowa’s schedule. They got to 12-0 without beating anybody that great. However, they did win road games against Wisconsin and Northwestern, arguably the two other best teams in the Big Ten West. But when it came down to Iowa playing a team like Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game, the Hawkeyes could not get the job done. Iowa wants to run the ball and play solid defense. So did Michigan State, but the Spartans simply had more talent.

The story is the same against Stanford. The Cardinal have a great defense and can control the clock offensively. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is not going to make big play after big play, but neither was Connor Cook in the Michigan State game. Stanford will control the clock with their ground game, led by All-Everything and Heisman Trophy finalist Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey’s statistics are insane. He accounted for 3,496 all-purpose yards. That is nearly 270 per game. Most of that damage came on the ground where he rushed for 1,847 yards, but he is also dangerous in the passing game and is one of the best kick returners in the country. Iowa will have a tough time to keeping the Stanford offense off of the field, much like they did against Michigan State.

Stanford is certainly a team like Michigan State that can play like Iowa, but play better. And the lines are certainly moving that way at places that have college and NFL betting odds. The Cardinal is nearly a touchdown favorite. However, Iowa deserves a lot of respect for the way they played against Michigan State. The defense was great, but just got tired by the end of the game. C.J. Beathard was relatively effective under center too. Iowa, however, was unable to get anything going on the ground and that will be what they need to do against Stanford in order to move the chains and keep Hogan, McCaffrey and company off of the field and give their defense some rest. Iowa has a decent stable of running back with Jordan Canzeri, LeShun Daniels, Akrum Wadley and Derrick Mitchell. One of them has to break a run and keep the Stanford defense honest. Beathard needs to hit his tight ends or go deep with Tevaun Smith effectively as well so the ground game can have a little bit of room to operate.

Stanford will probably play like Iowa, but play better. Yet, Iowa has some things going in their favor. Since it has been 25 years since the Hawkeyes have played in the Rose Bowl, you can be sure Pasadena will be full of black and old gold. Expect a low scoring, grind it out game and expect Iowa to finally get the respect they deserve.