The Iowa Hawkeyes wrapped up the universities most decorated and historic football season on Friday January 1st, 2016. Unfortunately for the Hawks, it didn’t quite end the way everyone hoped.
For about a month all you heard about if you talked to an Iowa fan was the Rose Bowl. The team hadn’t been there in the past 25 seasons and for most of the people in my circle, this would be the first time we were alive to see Iowa in the Rose Bowl. There was a constant buzz in Iowa City, Iowa as Iowa fans prepared for the big game.
When the ball dropped ushering us into 2016 my mind immediately switched to the Iowa game. I had trouble sleeping and I found myself constantly checking my watch waiting for 4;00 p.m. CT to roll around. When it finally did, the wait was over. However, just eleven short seconds into the game I found myself not wanting to watch anymore.
Stanford’s do-everything running back, Christian McCaffrey – who somehow didn’t win the Heisman trophy – had taken a pass out of the back field from Kevin Hogan 75 yards to the house on the first play of the game.
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I looked around at the faces of my friends and everyone looked stunned. The biggest game in the history of the Iowa football program and they give up a 75 yard touchdown on the first play.
I had a bad feeling in my stomach.
Stanford’s offense revolves around one player and Iowa didn’t have an answer. Not only was McCaffrey the fastest player on the field on Friday, but he was the quickest as well. His ability to make people miss in small spaces in something I have never seen before in my young life. He made all of Iowa’s secondary look like they were running with 20 pound weights around their ankles.
Stanford added four more touchdowns before the game broke for halftime while Iowa could muster nothing. 35-0 is what the Hawkeyes were dealing with and if we’ve learned anything about Iowa over the course of the year, this game was over.
The Hawkeyes aren’t built for big comebacks like that. They are built to run the ball, tire out your defense, and control the clock. The Hawkeyes were done. Iowa would end the game scoring 16 points, but they were nothing more than garbage scores.
WHAT WENT WRONG
For starters, Iowa’s offensive line was overmatched. C.J. Beathard found himself on the ground time and time again. Stanford’s defensive line dominated Iowa’s offensive line and made it impossible for them to get anything going. Take out the sack yardage for Beathard and Iowa mustered just 81 yards on 25 carries between four separate running backs.
Everything they did well over the course of the year was bad. It looked as if McCaffrey was greased up before the game because the Iowa defense couldn’t tackle him. On his 63 yard punt return for a touchdown he made Iowa’s leading tackler, Josey Jewell, look foolish.
To go along with the defensive struggles, the interception in the first quarter that Quenton Meeks took back for six was very uncharacteristic of this Iowa team. They prided themselves on not turning the ball over all year and that Meeks touchdown made it a three score game.
Plain and simple, Iowa was just overmatched. They ran into a buzz-saw in the form of McCaffrey – who looked upset that he didn’t win the Heisman trophy – and Stanford’s defense was just too much for Iowa to handle.
By no means does losing the final two games of the season discredit this Iowa team for what they did. They energized a fan base, who hasn’t had something to cheer about since 2009, with the most wins in school history at 12. Is it a tough pill to swallow? Sure, but you’d be lying if you said this wasn’t the most fun you’ve had during a football season in a long time.
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