IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa football team has 37 players who weigh over 250 pounds and seven who weigh at least 300 pounds.
With that much beef, you’d think that picking the biggest eater on the team would be difficult.
But not for C.J. Beathard.
Iowa’s all-Big Ten quarterback knew right away when asked on Tuesday which member of the team would lead the charge in the Lawry’s annual Beef Bowl on Sunday in Beverly Hills, Calif. The event is a significant part of the pre-game build-up for the Rose Bowl and has been since 1956.
“I would probably have to put my money on Ike,” Beathard said in reference to 6-foot-6, 300-pound sophomore offensive tackle Ike Boettger. “I’m good friends with Ike and I eat with him all the time. He eats so much food. So I would have to put my money on Ike.”
Unfortunately, for Boettger, Lawry’s now limits its servings and no longer publicizes how much each team consumes. The Beef Bowl used to be treated as a contest between the two Rose Bowl teams to see who could consume the most prime rib.
The Sporting News in 2005 called the Beef Bowl the best tradition of the college bowl season. Legend has it that a former Michigan lineman consumed a record eight pounds of prime rib in 1978.
It’s hard to even comprehend eating that much prime rib in one year, let alone one sitting, although, it sounds as if Boettger could come close if given the opportunity.
“I’ll give it my best shot, I’ll tell you that,” Boettger said.
That’s all you can ask for, on the field, or while tying on the food bag.
A former high school quarterback and tight end, Boettger has been on a steady weight-gaining regimen since switching from tight end to the offensive line at Iowa in 2013.
When asked to describe his diet, Boettger said:
“A lot of food.”
Fellow offensive lineman Cole Croston has been on a similar weight-gaining program since becoming a Hawkeye, adding close to 60 pounds to his 6-5, 295-pound frame. But Croston wants no part of Boettger in a food-eating contest.
“I think Ike would defeat me,” Croston said. “Ike can put down a lot of food. Just look at the guy, he’s a monster.
“He’s a big boy. I think he would end up winning. C.J. might be right.”
Don’t be misled by the amount of food being consumed because the Iowa players, even the behemoths like Boettger, follow a strict diet.
“A lot of people think we just eat pizza and a bunch of junk, but it’s not like that at all,” Boettger said.
Rarely will you see an Iowa football player drink soda pop.
“They give us freedom,” Boettger said of the Iowa coaches. “But I don’t know anybody on the team that drinks pop regularly.”
As for the Beef Bowl, Boettger laughed when asked Tuesday if he could eat a 24-ounce piece of prime rib. He almost seemed insulted by the question even being asked.
“I for sure could put 24 ounces down,” Boettger said with an are-you-kidding-me expression on his face. “I’ve never tested it out. But I guess we’ll try it out.”
Under the new setup, the players still get to devour close to 30 ounces of prime rib.
“I’m excited for the whole trip, it’s going to be a blast,” said Boettger, who started the first six games this season at right tackle before being sidelined by a high ankle sprain from which he is still recovering.
Boettger suffered the injury against Illinois on Oct. 10 and his recovery has been a slow and frustrating process.
"Very frustrating," said Boettger, who referred to himself as an emergency option for the Rose Bowl.
The good news is the injury hasn’t affected Boettger’s appetite. He’s ready for the Beef Bowl.
"Looking forward to it," Boettger said with a large grin.
FOUR IS ENOUGH: Even with his team falling one spot short of making the 4-team college playoff, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is not in favor of expansion.
There is speculation the playoff will expand from four to eight teams.
“I’m not an expert on the topic,” Ferentz said Tuesday. “It’s a fairly strong opinion. I think where we’re at is a good thing for college football. To me it’s a plus one. I don’t know if we’re using that term. I always thought that was a positive idea to expand it.
“To go beyond that I think some smart person would have to explain how we do it practically.”
One of Ferentz’s biggest concerns with expanding to eight teams is the demands it would place on academics. He joked with reporters on Tuesday about a tradition that occurs at the University of Iowa each December called finals week.
“I’m not sure when that next round of playoffs would begin,” Ferentz said. “We’ve got these finals on campus early December, they come every year, 17th year in a row. How you deal with those? And they are important, because we want our guys to graduate. That is important here, it’s always been a program goal.”
“I don’t know how you do that. They just played a couple of bowl games on Saturday, this past Saturday. We could never play in those games. We’re in finals week. At some point you have to think about the players, too, and what’s good for them. To me the only answer is to push it into January. Most colleges go to school in January, too. So I’m not sure how you’d pull it off.”