An unfortunate conclusion to an outstanding season
Iowa played Christian McCaffery-excuse me, Stanford-in a very underwhelming Rose Bowl on January 1st. It was a historic event for Iowa football, and it meant a huge deal to the players and fans alike. Was Iowa maybe a little starstruck at the beginning of the game? Definitely. Was Iowa prepared for Christian McCaffery and 10 other guys? Definitely not. A 45-16 loss stings a little, but it doesn’t ruin Iowa’s season.
From the first play of the game, a short pass to McCaffery (who started at his usual running back position) that turned into a 75-yard touchdown, you could tell Iowa wasn’t prepared. It was a textbook Stanford play. When I looked up McCaffery’s highlights to do some scouting, that exact same scenario appeared in the second play of the first video i found. Clearly Phil Parker doesn’t use YouTube to find opponent film.
Everyone, myself included, was hoping that Iowa would be awake now, and that the small deficit would be easy to overcome. I was wrong. A short 3 & out gave Stanford the ball again. After three big plays by McCaffery in a row, Stanford was already up by 14 points with only 6 minutes played.
It only got worse. Iowa’s offense looked alive with a drive that turned a couple of first downs, but then Beathard under threw a receiver, and Stanford ran it back 66 yards for a touchdown. Disbelief filled the Rose Bowl. What happened to the team with a good offense but even better defense, and when would Iowa be able to stop this New Years Day massacre?
Iowa got the ball back, lost yards, and punted, but then they actually managed to stop Stanford and force a punt! Iowa had another drive with no positive yardage and punted. The punt soon turned horrific. The man back to receive was none other than Christian McCaffery. What did he do? He did what Christian McCaffery does. He ran it into the end zone for a touchdown. The score was now 28-0 at the beginning of the second quarter.
Stanford only scored one more touchdown that quarter, and Iowa went into the locker room down 35-0. The controversial halftime show upset Iowa fans more than the football game did. It was stupid and mildly insulting, but I think all the hatred towards it was just Iowa fans letting their frustration out. Looking back on the show, it doesn’t bother me. That’s just what Stanford’s band does, and the hatred and booing only fuels them
Iowa came out after halftime, and their performance was mediocre Iowa. The held them to only a field goal in the 3rd quarter, Iowa kicked to get three points of their own! It sure was exciting. Iowa had scored more than Michigan State did, so the hawks defiantly took home the moral victory trophy for that one.
In the fourth quarter, Matt VandeBerg and Akrum Wadley each scored six, and Marshal Koehn went 1 for 2 on extra points. At the end of the game, Stanford threw a bomb to score another touchdown. Real classless move if you ask me. Iowa got the ball again and was driving it down the field with just a couple of minutes left to play. Iowa kept moving the ball well and was close to scoring. Ferentz had burned his last timeout with 16 seconds left. He had some fancy play drawn up, but we never got to see the end of it since Beathard fumbled and Iowa lost the ball. Stanford kneeled, and the game was over.
It was bittersweet, but looking back at the season, you can’t be disappointed. If you had made a deal with me at the beginning of the season that Iowa would get to go to the Rose Bowl but take a big loss, I would take that in a heartbeat. Iowa was projected to barely go positive. A Big Ten Championship game and Rose Bowl bid were out of the question.
I thought Iowa would win, and if Iowa came out ready in the beginning and played like they did the second half, they would’ve had a really good chance. I think the pressure of the Rose Bowl and the grandeur got in their heads. Hopefully they could return next year and could right the wrong of this season. Whatever happens next year and all the years after that, I will still remember this game and this season, and I will look back on my team with pride. It’s great to be a Hawkeye.