WHO: No. 5 Iowa (12-1) vs. No. 6 Stanford (11-2)
WHAT: The 102nd Rose Bowl Game
WHERE: Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, California
WHEN: 5:00 pm ET, Jan. 1, 2016 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Offense may be what gets college football fans interested these days, but when Stanford and Iowa meet in the Rose Bowl the name of the game will be defense. Well, and Christian McCaffrey.
McCaffrey, a Heisman finalist this season will look to continue doing a little bit of everything to give Stanford the bets chance to win. That will include, primarily, running the football but also returning punts and kickoffs to look to give the Cardinal any kind of spark when needed. He does it all among the best in the nation, which is why he earned a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation. Although he may not have brought home the hardware, Iowa knows it will have its work cut out for it in its first trip to Pasadena since a time when the Big Ten actually had 10 teams in its lineup.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz always seems to have a great season come out of nowhere every few years at Iowa, and that was certainly the case this season. Iowa actually earned more national respect in its loss in the Big Ten Championship Game to Michigan State than it did at any point during its 12-0 regular season. The Hawkeyes allowed more than 24 point sin a game just twice this season. Indiana managed to tack 27 points on Iowa and Minnesota “exploded” for 35 points, but Iwoa won each as they made their way to the Big Ten title game. C.J. Beathard has been steady with 2,570 passing yards and 15 touchdowns to four interceptions. For Iowa’s offense, Beathard appears to be a perfect fit. Having a steady running game around him helps, and fortunately for the Hawkeyes they have been able to avoid the dreaded injury gods this season. Jordan Canzeri was forced to leave the Big Ten championship game with an injury but should be good to go for the Rose Bowl.
McCaffrey stole the spotlight at Stanford this season, and for good reason, but the Cardinal still have a battle-tested quarterback in Kevin Hogan running the offense. It is unfair to forget that Hogan completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 2,644 yards and 24 touchdowns this season with just seven interceptions thrown. His last interception was thrown in the middle of November against Oregon. He has thrown six touchdown passes (and run for one more) in his last three games.
THE PREDICTION: Stanford 19, Iowa 16