Happy New Year.
And we continue to pick up where we left off from last year. Any prospect of a brand new exciting year was dashed by Iowa's Godawful performance in yet another Rose Bowl blowout, at the hands of the Stanford Cardinals 45-16. And how Christian McCaffery managed to tear up Iowa defenders with long punt returns for touchdowns and not win the Heisman is beyond me. His 75 yard TD catch on the first play ended the game right there and then. 172 rush yards, 105 receiving, 91 return yards and two touchdowns. 360 total yards, a Rose Bowl record and perhaps the last time in my lifetime that Iowa will return back there. Like the previous four times they been there since 1981, the Hawks got way behind and never caught up. Of course arguments came from a bass playing friend saying that the refs fixed the game with non calls, and there were a few missed calls. But whatever the case, the Hawkeyes couldn't tackle, couldn't cover, couldn't catch the ball, blockers couldn't block and McCaffery turned the game into his personal best and what the ratings whores have been saying all along that Iowa was a 12-0 garbage team that played subpar teams and when they got to play a decent team they got their ass handed back to them on a plate. Can't blame the refs for that.
At halftime the Stanford Band managed to rile the already pissed off Iowa crowd by cueing up part of the Farmers Only. com music and put out a bizarre looking cow to tip over. ESPN cutted away to a commercial break before the whole thing ended. Stanford Marching Band as always done this in the past, throwing barbs at Ohio State a few years ago but in all fairness the Iowa Marching Band won the battle of the bands, without resorting to below the belt standards but I do admire Stanford for at least trying. But the running joke was that the Iowa Trombone Section came closer to the Stanford end zone than the offense in the first quarter. Even though CJ Bethard did managed to make the game closer than it actually was, Marshall Koehn, Mr. 57 yard FG kicker once again missed on a extra point. One hopes that the next Iowa kicker will be a bit more consistent than Mr. Koehn, but the Cardinals would score on a 37 yard TD past before the game was over.
So what have we learned from this lopsided Stanford victory? Despite being 12-0, the problem remains that Iowa didn't beat a quality team, but then again the computer is to blame for the soft and easy season. Iowa caught Wisconsin and Nebraska on off days and Northwestern was very erratic up till them getting blown out by Tennessee, that same team that wiped Iowa off the map in the TaxWhatever Bowl that made 2015 a shitty start to the year. They played Michigan State tough but ran out of gas and thank their lucky stars that they did not go play Alabama, which wiped Michigan State off the map New Year's Eve. The consolation prize was the Rose Bowl for the first time in 25 years, the bowl selection committee rewarding Iowa over Ohio State, the latter the best team of the Big Ten and would have given Stanford a better game. Christian McCaffery would have had an outstanding game against anybody today, he was simply unstoppable. But while the faithful called for Alabama, Stanford's season is over. Northwestern beating them 16-6 earlier in the year and a 38-36 Oregon win kept them out of any serious consideration for the national championship, win either one, and they would have been in the Final Four playoffs. They'll have to settle for being number 5 in the nation. And McCaffery should have won the Heisman.
Blame expansion in the Big Ten for the easy Iowa season as well. Had Maryland and Rutgers not get in, Iowa would have to play Michigan regardless and maybe Ohio State. Hell if Michigan was in the Big Ten West, they would have been 11-0 going into Ohio State/Michigan finale. If Jake Rudock would have stayed for that final season, he'd be on the bench rather than kicking Florida all over the Citrus Bowl in his final game as QB and perhaps a NFL career as well. CJ Bethard started strong, then got hurt and never really found that groove in the last couple games of the year. Despite what the hatred that ESPN and ratings flunkie Colin Cowherd said all year about being a fluke, going 12-0 was not what I thought Iowa would be. All Iowa had to do was beat the elite team that was Stanford and that would have shut them up for a moment. But instead the blowout instead proved Colin Cowpie and Kirk Herbstreit were right, Iowa was not a championship caliber team, but an slightly above average team that benefited from a lighter than normal schedule. It didn't help that Iowa lost Drew Ott, a major injury to which the defense never recovered from. But Iowa had to win the bowl game to get some sort of respectability and they did not. And like 2015, Iowa got blown out in a bowl game. And from their bowl record the past four years, it's doubtful that ESPN or FOX Sports will ever take them seriously again. As if they ever did.
I'm sure ESPN and Colin Cowdung will be smirking at the 2016 football schedule as well. The trophy case has never been this full, but all four teams that lost the trophy games will be back with a vengeance. All four will be tougher, Tommie Armstong will be back for Nebraska, Iowa State has a new coach, Minnesota will be in transition and Wisconsin will have a new QB since Joel Starve graduates. Maryland is traded for Rutgers and Indiana is replaced by Michigan and Penn State returns as well. North Dakota State will be a very tough FBS school to beat. C J Bethard will return as well as Akim Wadley but the guess is that Desmond King will go for the money and declare for the NFL. Although Bethard says that the Hawks will be going into 2016 with a big chip on their shoulder, the hope is that it doesn't get knocked off and shoved down their throat like it did in the Rose Bowl. One thing is clear, they will not go 12-0 and if they go 12-0, Carly Fiorina will be elected President. And it was strange of her being a Stanford grad rooting for the Hawkeyes, which may have been a curse right off the bat.
Stanford loses Kevin Hogan, but McCaffery will be back and he'll be better than ever, pending if he doesn't tear a ACL or get hurt. David Shaw will find a way to get them back to Pasadena next year.
Despite the blowout, Iowa did have damn fine season and 12-0 in the B1G Ten West in 2015 is for the ages and not a fraud. The road back to Pasadena (or a playoff bowl) is going to be a lot rockier and more harder to do for next season. And the critics are going to be much more harsher as well. If you're going to beat an elite team next year, it's best to have a whole healthy squad. It also helps to have blockers that can protect C J as well. The man took some nasty hits this season.
2015 was a tale of two seasons: the 12-0 regular season and the glaring 0-2 in championship and bowl games. And some ways more people and history is going to remember the latter. Let's us hope that this time next year they'll win the last game of the year rather than giving another player from the opposite team their game for the ages.