It was not a good bowl season for the two teams who played for a Big Ten championship.
A night after Michigan State was throttled in the Cotton Bowl, it was Iowa’s turn to take a bowl-game beating, giving up five first-half touchdowns and falling to Stanford, 45-16, in the Rose Bowl.
Christian McCaffery, Stanford’s do-it-all Heisman Trophy finalist, led the charge in the torching of the Iowa defense. He broke the record for the most all-purpose yards in a Rose Bowl with 368 and became the first player to record more than 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in a Rose Bowl. McCaffery had 172 rushing yards on 18 carries, and he caught four passes for 105 yards, adding 63 punt-return yards and 28 kick-return yards.
All in all, the Hawkeyes — which played strong defense throughout the season — allowed 429 total yards to the Cardinal, 206 rushing and 223 passing.
Stanford got things started with a bang. Quarterback Kevin Hogan hit McCaffery on a pass up the middle, and McCaffery streaked down the field for a 75-yard touchdown to put the Cardinal in front, 7-0, just 11 seconds into the game.
McCaffery and Stanford struck again on the next possession, with McCaffery amassing 65 rushing and receiving yards ahead of Hogan’s eight-yard touchdown run. That made it 14-0 before six minutes had even been played.
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Iowa finally started to grab some momentum on its second offensive drive. Quarterback C.J. Beathard got into Stanford territory with a 14-yard rush to convert on third down. But a few plays later, Beathard threw a not-so-great pass that was intercepted by Cardinal defensive back Quenton Meeks and returned 66 yards for a touchdown, turning the game into a first-quarter blowout at 21-0.
Stanford didn’t let up in the second quarter, either, as McCaffery scored his second touchdown of the day when he went 63 yards to the house on a punt return to put the Cardinal in front 28-0. McCaffery had a 70-plus-yard scamper for a touchdown called back on a holding flag later in the quarter, but that same drive ended when Hogan ran a fake-fumble play — pretending to put the ball on the ground — and heaving it 31 yards to the end zone for a touchdown that made it 35-0.
The teams traded third-quarter field goals, heading to the final period with a 38-3 score. Desmond King and Beathard provided some fourth-quarter highlights for Iowa, King’s 38-yard punt return setting up Beathard's 36-yard touchdown toss to Matt VandeBerg to make it a 38-9 game after Marshall Koehn missed the extra point.
Iowa added another touchdown on its ensuing drive. After Josey Jewell gave the Hawkeyes the ball by intercepting Hogan in the end zone, Beathard capped an 80-yard drive with a 31-yard touchdown toss to Akrum Wadley. That made it a 38-16 score.
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But not content to be leading by 22, Stanford struck once more in the game’s final minutes, Hogan launching a 42-yard touchdown pass to enlarge the lead to 45-16.
Iowa outscored Stanford in the second half, 16-10, but it was nowhere near enough following the Cardinal’s five-touchdown edge in the first half.
The Hawkeyes gained just 287 yards of offense and were held to just 48 rushing yards, a stunning total even worse than their 52-yard rushing output in the Big Ten Championship Game. Beathard finished with 239 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. LeShun Daniels was the team’s leading rusher on the day with 37 yards on 10 carries.
Lost in McCaffery's monster day, Hogan finished with 223 passing yards and a trio of touchdown passes plus 24 yards and another touchdown on the ground.
The final two games of Iowa’s season proved a real disappointing finish to the winningest campaign in program history. The Hawkeyes won 12 games in a single season for the first time, going undefeated during the regular season before a last-minute loss in the conference title game and Friday's bowl-game pounding.