IOWA CITY, Iowa – Saturday night, the Hawkeyes were hurting. Sunday afternoon, they received a remedy.
The Iowa football team learned it was headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time in a quarter century. Word arrived less than 24 hours after an excruciating, 16-13, loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game.
“It’s a big roller coaster with a lot of ups and downs,” Center Austin Blythe said Sunday here at the performance center. “You play in a game like that (Saturday) night, having it so close and then having it slip away like that, to waking up to texts that you’re going to the Rose Bowl, it’s a complete 180. It just feels great to have this opportunity to play in a really good bowl game.”
Had the fifth-ranked Hawkeyes (12-1) knocked off Michigan State, they would have been in the college football playoff. The Spartans score a last-minute touchdown after a 22-play drive that left many of the Iowa players teary-eyed. Their disposition appeared much more upbeat Sunday.
“It’s definitely good medicine,” Safety Jordan Lomax said. “It’s a huge opportunity because they could have easily selected somebody else to be playing in this game and they selected us. For us to be representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl is huge for us.”
Concern crept into the fan base last week when it was speculated on social media and writers attempting to read the tea leaves that the Hawkeyes could fall to the Peach Bowl. As Sunday showed, fearing Ohio State snatching the Rose Bowl away was off-base. The Buckeyes stayed behind Iowa in the rankings at No. 7.
Iowa reached the Rose Bowl for just the sixth time in program history and the first time since the 1990 season. It lost that year under head coach Hayden Fry after falling following the ’81 and ’85 campaigns, when current Hawkeye head man Kirk Ferentz served as an assistant.
“We still have some unfinished business,” said Ferentz, who replaced Fry before the ’99 season.
Iowa qualified for the Rose Bowl following an 11-1 regular season in ’02. During that BCS Era, the Orange Bowl picked ahead of the Rose and nabbed the Hawkeyes to play USC in a game that featured Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer, the Trojan quarterback, and the runner-up, Brad Banks, the Hawkeye signal caller.
The Granddaddy of them all, as the Rose Bowl is known, was first played in 1902 before going on hiatus until ’16. It’s been contested every year since then.
Iowa won the ’57 Rose Bowl, 35-19, against Oregon State before returning two years later and downing California, 38-12. From ’47–01, the event featured a Big Ten team facing a PAC-12 squad.
“The pageantry, it’s just, it is one of those games,” Ferentz said. “I remember Jimmy Stewart being the Grand Marshal, I’m going way back now, but everything about it is just really significant and special for a lot of different reasons.”
The Hawkeyes and Stanford shared one common opponent from this season. Iowa won at Northwestern, 40-10, on Oct. 17. The Cardinal lost in Evanston, 16-6, on Sept. 5.
Stanford’s lone loss since the game against the Wildcats came on Nov. 14, 38-36, against Oregon in Palo Alto. The Cardinal has knocked off a ranked USC team twice as well as rated teams in UCLA and Notre Dame.
“We know they’re a good football team and they’ve done a good job all year,” Iowa Quarterback C.J. Beathard said. “I think they’re well coached and they’ve got good players.”
CONCERN FOR CANZERI: Iowa senior Jordan Canzeri left Saturday’s Michigan State game with an ankle injury during the first quarter. The running back from New York did not return.
Canzeri’s status for the bowl game remained up in the air as of Sunday.
“We’ll find out more as the week goes on. He was in a boot (Sunday) for precautionary reasons. And it’s a sprain, so they’re tricky,” Ferentz said. “We have seen him come back in two weeks and sometimes it takes longer. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed, especially for his sake. It’s his last chance to play a college football game. So I sure would hope that he can be back full speed for this game. I hope both sides, their team and our team has all their players out there.”
Canzeri earned third-team all-Big Ten honors this season. He has 976 yards and 12 touchdowns on 178 carries this season.
OTT EXPECTING GOOD NEWS: Drew Ott showed up to Sunday’s press conference wearing a smile as big as anybody else’s in the room. That said something since he missed the final six games and will be out for the bowl after undergoing surgeries on his knee and elbow.
Ott has remained a fixture at road games and in walking out to midfield with the rest of the captains for the coin toss despite not being able to play. He’s applied for a fifth year of eligibility after missing most of this season.
“I hope to find out soon, hopefully sometime in December I’ll find out,” the defensive end from Nebraska said.
The appeal first goes to the Big Ten and then on to an NCAA board that rules on it, Ott said.
“I feel pretty good about it. I think I have a good chance, hopefully,” he said.
QUICK-HITTERS: Beathard enjoys some lineage with the Rose Bowl. His great uncle, Pete Beathard, was named the game MVP in 1963. His uncle, Kurt Beathard, coached in the game as an Illinois assistant in ’08…This will be the first ever meeting between Iowa and Stanford…USC has the most Rose Bowl appearances (33) and wins (24). Michigan is next at 20 and 8. Stanford sits third at 15 and 6.