Iowa to play in Rose Bowl for first time in 25 years

Chad Leistikow
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and punter Dillon Kidd wait to take the field for the Hawkeyes' Big Ten championship game against Michigan State at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday.

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The College Football Playoff committee gave Iowa all the respect required Sunday to get the AP sixth-ranked Hawkeyes to their first Rose Bowl in 25 years.

A trip to Pasadena, Calif., and a date with No. 5 Stanford was revealed during an ESPN broadcast that outlined the New Year’s Six bowl games. And it was a welcomed consolation prize less than 24 hours after the Hawkeyes were outlasted by Michigan State, 16-13, in the Big Ten Conference title game in Indianapolis.

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The Rose Bowl will be played Jan. 1 at 4 p.m. and be televised by ESPN — the only bowl game during that time slot, a prestigious reward for Iowa’s 12-1 season.

The Big Ten West-champion Hawkeyes (No. 5 by the CFP committee) finished two spots ahead of 11-1 and defending national champion Ohio State in the final rankings, and that was all the buffer that was needed for Iowa to get the Rose Bowl nod.

The Rose Bowl had repeatedly said it would likely take the next-highest-ranked CFP team should the Big Ten champion (Michigan State) go to the College Football Playoff. And Sunday, it was true to its word, matching the Hawkeyes up with the No. 6 CFP Cardinal, who finished 11-2 after the Pacific-12 Championship victory over USC.

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Iowa's hard-fought loss to Michigan State, in which the Spartans scored their only touchdown with 27 seconds left, impressed the 12-person committee.

"We really thought Iowa proved more in that loss than throughout the rest of their schedule." committee chairman Jeff Long said.

Iowa’s last trip to Pasadena was the 1991 Rose Bowl, a 46-34 loss to Washington — leaving Hayden Fry with an 0-3 Rose record as coach. This will mark Kirk Ferentz’s ninth January bowl game in 17 seasons as Iowa’s head coach, but his first Rose Bowl.

The last time Iowa won in Pasadena was in the 1959 game, 38-12 over California.

The final College Football Playoff ranking: 

1. Clemson

2. Alabama

3. Michigan State

4. Oklahoma

5. Iowa

6. Stanford

7. Ohio State

8. Notre Dame

9. Florida State

10. North Carolina

11. TCU

12. Ole Miss

13. Northwestern

14. Michigan

15. Oregon

16. Oklahoma State

17. Baylor

18. Houston

19. Florida

20. LSU

21. Navy

22. Utah

23. Tennessee

24. Temple

25. USC