#5 Iowa Hawkeyes (12-1) vs #6 Stanford Cardinals (11-2)

This year’s grandaddy of them all sees the now familiar Stanford Cardinals from the Pac-12 pitted against the bruising Iowa Hawkeyes from the Big Ten who’ll be making their first trip to Pasadena since 1991. Will it stack up to last year’s Rose Bowl game? No. Why? Well, on top of the fact that Spor Repor won’t be in attendance incognito, there is no way Stanford vs Iowa can live up to the excitement of the first-ever CFP semifinal game. Also, it’s going to be pretty hard for either team to top Jameis Winston’s fumble in the 3rd quarter in last year’s game.

Stanford, along with Oregon, are starting to hog the Rose Bowl from the rest of the Pac-12. The Cardinals have now played in three of the last four Rose Bowls and the last time a Pac-12 school other than Stanford or Oregon has played in the Rose Bowl was USC in 2009. Of course USC hogged it all to themselves for four-straight years prior to Oregon’s 2010 appearance so maybe we should be happy that two Pac-12 schools are sharing the game between themselves instead of being selfish.

The Cardinals racked up an impressive 11-2 during the season including an amazing 8-1 in conference play. I say all of that of course because there one loss in conference was to Oregon so I’m alright complimenting them since I know they’re second fiddle to the Ducks. Stanford defeated USC twice on the road (once in the Pac-12 Championship Game that’s technically the road) along with wins against UCLA and Notre Dame at the end of November at home to secure their rightful place in the Rose Bowl. Though of course if a certain FCS school didn’t put out a hit job against Oregon’s QB at the beginning of the season which led to losses against Michigan State, Utah and Washington State then Stanford would be in San Antonio right now. I expect Cheney got a lovely Christmas present in the mail from Palo Alto.

Iowa┬ámeanwhile do not have a pleasant history with the Rose Bowl. On top of not having played in the bowl since 1991, Iowa hasn’t won the Rose Bowl since 1959. The ugly Iowa Hawkeyes managed to go the entire length of the season undefeated in the weakened Big Ten (seriously, how did all the ranked Big Ten West and East teams avoid each other in conference this season) before falling to the Michigan State Spartans in the ugly Big Ten Championship Game. Iowa only has 4 wins against teams against teams who finished the regular season 500 or better compared to Stanford’s 8 wins which could show that this Hawkeyes team isn’t as battle-ready as the Cardinals are in this game.

Either way, as long as someone scores a touchdown before the 4th quarter, it’ll be a good game.

Crystal Ball Prediction: Someone will be forced to score a touchdown before halftime by ESPN execs

BONUS

Winner according to Nickname Wars: Cardinals > Hawkeyes