In a classic Pac-12 vs. Big Ten matchup, the #6 Stanford Cardinal will take on the #5 Iowa Hawkeyes in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual on Friday, January 1. Surprisingly, this is the first matchup between the two schools for the first time in their respective histories. Iowa began playing football in 1889 while Stanford started the sport in 1892.
Stanford closed the regular season with three straight wins, including a 41-22 rout of USC in the Pac-12 Championship for their second win over the Trojans this season. Iowa was unbeaten all the way through to the Big Ten Championship, where they were ground down in a 16-13 loss to #5 Michigan State that put the Spartans into the College Football Playoff. Kickoff from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California is scheduled for 5:00 pm ET and will be televised on ESPN. Stanford is currently a 6.5 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 53 points.
Free Pick on the Iowa Hawkeyes +6.5
Stanford’s offense runs through senior quarterback Kevin Hogan and talented all-purpose running back Christian McCaffrey, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Alabama’s Derrick Henry. The Cardinal enters this contest 79th in the nation in passing offense by throwing for 210.9 yards per contest; Stanford is 19th in the nation in rushing with an average of 225.1 yards per game. Stanford is 19th in the nation in scoring offense by putting up 37.2 points per contest and rank 38th in scoring defense as they allow 23.1 points per game.
Veteran signal caller Kevin Hogan is 194 of 283 passing for 2,644 yards with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions while running for 312 yards and five scores. If he goes down, Keller Chryst (five of nine, 59 yards, TD) would be next in line. Christian McCaffrey has been solid as the lead back in the system with 319 carries for 1,847 yards and eight scores. He threw for two scores and ran a kickoff back for a score as well. Barry Sanders Jr. (49 carries, 313 yards, 4 TD) and Remound Wright (77 carries, 209 yards, team high 13 TD) are in the mix as change of pace backs. McCaffrey leads the team with 41 catches for 540 yards and four scores out of the backfield. Devon Cajuste (26 receptions, 375 yards, 3 TD) and Austin Hooper (31 grabs, 415 yards, 6 TD) are good targets as well. Michael Rector (32 receptions, 486 yards, 5 TD) has developed into a decent threat as well. Conrad Ukropina has booted all 61 extra points and 17 of 19 field goal attempts with a long of 52 yards.
Iowa led 13-9 in the fourth quarter but was worn down by Michigan State. The Spartans went on a 22 play drive that covered 84 yards and took 9:04 off the clock. LJ Scott punched in the game winning score with 27 seconds to play and Iowa ended up on the outside looking in for the CFP. The Hawkeyes are averaging 201.8 yards per game (currently 90th in the nation) through the air and 192 yards per game (40th in the nation) on the ground. Iowa averages 32.1 points per game, which puts them 51st in the nation in scoring offense, and is 15th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 18.5 points per game.
The Hawkeyes have run the ball 530 times while throwing the ball 336 times this season. C.J. Beathard has hit 61.4 percent (202 of 329) of his throws for 2,570 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions on the season. Jordan Canzeri leads the Hawkeyes with 178 carries for 976 yards and 12 scores. LeShun Daniels Jr. has 135 carries for 609 yards plus eight scores as the #2 back in the system. Akrum Wadley contributes 74 carries for 463 yards and seven touchdowns while Beathard chips in 270 yards and six scores. Matt VandeBerg leads the team with 61 receptions for 639 yards and three scores while Tevaun Smith (30 receptions, 546 yards, 3 TD) is the deep threat in the passing attack. Canzeri has 18 grabs out of the backfield while Harry Krieger Coble has caught 32 passes for 385 yards as a possession type receiver. Marshall Koehn is 46 of 51 on extra points and 15 of 19 on field goals this season. He has hit from 57 but he missed one of his three attempts shorter than 29 yards.
Iowa is 7-2 ATS in their last nine on grass, 5-2 ATS in their last seven bowl games and 5-2 ATS in their last seven in January.
The lone common opponent that the teams faced this season was Northwestern. Stanford fell by 10 to the Wildcats while Iowa bombed Northwestern by 30. Iowa has no problem dealing with teams that can run the ball. The Hawkeyes nearly were unbeaten and could have been in the College Football Playoff if things were slightly different. Iowa will keep the game close at worst and could win outright. Take the points and Iowa here.
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