Rose Bowl Pick: Back More Battle-Tested Stanford -6.5 vs. Iowa

Ted Sevransky

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 7:15 PM GMT

Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 7:15 PM GMT

We look at the college football odds for the Rose Bowl game between Iowa and Stanford and provide our betting analysis and college football pick.

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College Football Pick: Stanford -6.5

Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle 

 

Iowa vs. Stanford
I can’t think of the Rose Bowl without hearing legendary college football announcer Keith Jackson describing it as ‘The Granddaddy of ‘Em All’.  And this year’s matchup has the potential to be a classic that would make Jackson proud.

With the exception of last year’s blowout win by Oregon over Florida State, every other recent Rose Bowl has been hotly contested against the college football odds.  The previous five Rose Bowls were all decided by single digit margins, including four straight by a TD or less. 

Iowa has been disrespected here in Las Vegas all year.  In a recent conversation with a prominent sportsbook director in town, I was told in no uncertain terms that at least 20 teams would have been favored over the Hawkeyes on a neutral field prior to their last minute loss in the Big 10 Championship Game. 

It’s surely worth noting that undefeated Iowa was an underdog to Michigan State in that contest.  And the fact that they lost that title game, missing out on the college football playoffs as a result, is not viewed as a positive sign by the betting markets.

The Hawkeyes have not stepped up in class well in recent bowl games.  They lost by 17 to Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl last year.  In 2013, they lost by seven to LSU in the Outback Bowl.  In 2012, it was a 17 point loss to Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl.  Head coach Kirk Ferentz pulled off a number of impressive bowl upsets earlier in his tenure at Iowa, and the Hawkeyes are 8-4 ATS in their bowl games here in the 21st century under Ferentz. 

But those upsets have been few and far between in recent seasons.  And Iowa didn’t fare particularly well as an underdog this year either.  The Hawkeyes were only dogs twice all season.  They won SU in a 10-6 defensive struggle at Wisconsin, despite getting outgained by 100 yards.  Iowa benefitted from four Badgers turnovers in that game, including one on the goalline as Wisconsin was going in for (what would have been) the winning touchdown. And the Hawkeyes managed to score only 13 points in their Big 10 Championship Game loss to Michigan State, as their defense finally wilted on the final drive.

With the exception of those two games, the Hawkeyes never really stepped up in class this year.  Their non-conference slate was weak, the most impressive win coming at home against Pitt on a 57 yard field goal as time expired.  They avoided Michigan and Ohio State, while feasting on the weak in the Big 10 West. 

QB CJ Beathard avoided mistakes like the plague, throwing only four interceptions all year, but his receiving corps lacks playmakers and Beathard doesn’t have a big downfield arm.  The bulk of the offense came from RB’s Jordan Canzeri (questionable for the Rose Bowl with an ankle injury) and LeShun Daniels.

That’s bad news against Stanford’s solid run defense.  The Cardinal were gashed on the ground twice this year, allowing 388 rushing yards to Oregon and 299 to Notre Dame; their two worst defensive showings of the season.  

Iowa’s offense does not compare favorably with Notre Dame’s or Oregon’s attack. Stanford’s run defense excelled in most of their other games, and they have been particularly tough in the red zone, bad news for a team like Iowa that consistently settles for field goals.  The Cardinal have the vastly superior offense thanks to senior QB Kevin Hogan and Heisman finalist Christian McCaffery at RB.

Stanford annihilated Maryland 45-21 in their bowl game last year. Iowa is much tougher competition, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. But the Pac-12 was better – much better – than the Big 10 this year, and the Hawkeyes one loss record is somewhat fraudulent. I’m not calling for a blowout, but I do think the Cardinal win this one by a TD or more. Take the Cardinal with your college football picks.

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