Rose Bowl 2016: Stanford and Iowa came down the stretch of the regular season with hope of forcing their way into the College Football Playoff. Although neither one ultimately accomplished that goal, it’s hard to find a better consolation prize than the Rose Bowl.
All signs point to an aggressive, physical battle between two teams that still have no shortage of playmakers despite embracing that old-school mentality. It should make for a highly entertaining clash on New Year’s Day.
Let’s check out all of the important information for this year’s edition of the “Granddaddy of Them All.” That’s followed by some of the game’s key numbers and a preview of the matchup.
Where: Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
When: Friday, Jan. 1, at 5 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN Stream Here
Neither side has a distinct advantage going into the game, as the statistics show. Generally speaking, Iowa is the slightly better defensive team and Stanford is a little more explosive on the offensive side, but it’s not overwhelming in either case.
Instead, these are two well-rounded teams capable of winning games in various ways. That’s one of the reasons it’s such an intriguing matchup. It’s hard to forecast exactly how the game will play out because there are plenty of variables in play.
One thing’s for sure: The Hawkeyes defense can expect to see a heavy dose of Christian McCaffrey. The do-it-all running back received 53 touches, including his work on special teams, during the Cardinal’s victory over USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
His late-season surge nearly lifted him to the Heisman Trophy, but the award ended up going to Derrick Henry of Alabama. That said, the dynamic sophomore isn’t going to let that alter his outlook moving forward, as noted by Vytas Mazeika of the Palo Alto Daily News.
“Whether I was there or not, whether I won or not, the fuel always has to be there,” McCaffrey said. “I don’t get the fuel from that. I can’t control that. I can control how hard I work and how hard I practice, so that’s what I’m going to do.”His ability to move the chains, whether on the ground or in the passing game, is one of the chief reasons Stanford leads the nation in average time of possession. The Iowa front seven will be under a lot of pressure to force at least a couple three-and-out drives.
Meanwhile, one of the main concerns of a coaching staff in these types of situations is how the team will bounce back emotionally. That’s especially true in the case of Iowa, which made it all the way to the Big Ten title game before losing to Michigan State and watching a playoff berth slip away in the process.Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz thinks getting a high-profile matchup with Stanford in the Rose Bowl should go a long way in making sure the disappointment is a thing of the past, per Greg Beacham of the Associated Press.
“This news is good medicine, I think, for all of us, just to ease the tough outcome,” Ferentz said.
Along with slowing down McCaffrey, Iowa must capitalize on Stanford’s defensive struggles in the red zone. It can’t afford to squander any points in what should be a close contest.
As a whole, expect a hard-fought battle at the line of scrimmage that leads to some extended drives from both sides. Hawkeye Gamefilm spotlighted the likely lack of pace:Ultimately, McCaffrey will probably dominate the conversation. But the defenses, led by Stanford’s Blake Martinez and Iowa’s Josey Jewell, will likely warrant the most praise when the final whistle sounds, so don’t expect a shootout.
The Cardinal have showcased more consistent playmaking ability on the offensive end throughout the campaign. That should push them over the top in the end.
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