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Rose Bowl

Iowa

vs.

Stanford

1/1/16

Both of these teams had opportunities to make it into the College Football Playoff, but couldn't muster wins when needed. Stanford, who already lost to a Big Ten team this year, opened as a -6.5 point favorite at Betonline Sportsbook for the Rose Bowl.

The Cardinal may be much closer in proximity to the Rose Bowl, but that shouldn't have a huge effect as the Hawkeyes are expected to travel well. And the last time Stanford was in this situation, they lost to Michigan State 24-20 as a similarly sized favorite.

Stanford wasn't expected to be much after losing 16-6 to Northwestern in the opener (Iowa won at NW 40-10), but they went on to carve through the Pac-12. In fact, the Cardinal went on an eight-game winning streak and were in talks to make the playoff, but Oregon had different ideas and took them down. Still, Stanford finished the year with three straight wins and a Pac-12 title, with two of those against Notre Dame and USC.

Iowa's schedule was a bit different -- and easier -- but it's hard to take away from any team that finished the regular season 12-0. The Hawkeyes were a few seconds away from winning the Big Ten title game, but couldn't pull it out. The knock on them is that they don't have a good non-conference win and their best two wins on the year came at Northwestern and Wisconsin.

From the outside, this game automatically looks like a defensive slugfest, but Stanford's games as of late have been a little higher scoring. The Cardinal are scoring 37.2 points per game on the year and haven't really played a low-scoring battle since that Northwestern game. Iowa is a bit more defensive in its approach, but still have some high-scorings wins on its schedule.

Iowa has won games this year by running the ball and stopping the run. To win this one, they'll have to do the same in probably their hardest task of the season.

Christian McCaffrey has been unstoppable this year and a main reason the Cardinal are in this position. He went for 312 total yards and two touchdowns in the Pac-12 title game if that says anything about how Stanford runs its offense. He was the AP Player of the Year (second in Heisman) with 1,847 rushing yards, 540 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns. McCaffrey does everything for this team. However, the one time he did struggle was against Northwestern when he had 17 touches for only 89 yards. That happened to be the toughest run defense Stanford faced all season, and now, Iowa is the best.

If McCaffrey can't get going, quarterback Kevin Hogan will be called upon and that's not what Cardinal fans want to see. While he finished with 24 TDs and 7 INTs, Hogan is mostly a game manager and attempted more than 30 passes just twice this season, in both losses.

Stanford's defense has been a step down this year compared to previous versions, which should keep the Hawkeyes around in this one. Iowa runs a similar offense and top running back Jordan Canzeri (976 yards, 12 TDs) should be healthy for this one after hurting his ankle in the Big Ten title contest. Even so, LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley have proved to be more than worthy in relief roles. Quarterback C.J. Beathard is just like Hogan in that he's a game manager. He threw for 15 TDs and 4 INTs and never was asked to do much since the running game always succeeded.

To assume this game is going to be low scoring would be an oversight. Both of these teams can score and Stanford's weakness on the defensive end should leave a hole for Iowa to at least cover. The Hawkeyes will be ramped for this one, not having played in a bowl this big since the Orange back in 2010.

The Cardinal are 6-1 ATS in their last seven neutral-site games and 5-1 ATS in their last six bowl games (non-cover was Michigan State). The under is 8-2 in the Hawkeyes last 10 neutral-site games. Iowa was 7-5-1 ATS on the year, while Stanford was 9-4 ATS.

Our Pick - No queston Stanford has played the more difficult schedule. They also own the more explosive offense. It wouldn't be a shock to see Stanford blow this game open and win in blow out fashion.

But you don't win 12 college football games by accident, with your only loss coming to final 4 participant Michigan State by 3. Iowa has a solid football team and has found a way to get it done all year long.

Stanford has appeared in 2 of the last 3 Rose Bowls, beating Wisconsin 20-14 in 2013 and losing 24-20 to Michigan State in 2014. Those two recent results should put to rest any talk of the lowly Big 10 not being able to compete.

Iowa hasn't appeared in the Rose Bowl since 1991. So, yeah, this is a big deal for both teams but perhaps more so for the Hawkeyes.

We played this game before the line move at +7 and put this game out as a Key Release. There's still value at +6.5 though. When we pay a TD dog, we aren't playing them because we think they can hang within the number. We are playing them because we think they can win. Iowa +7 (3* Key Release)

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