The Iowa Hawkeyes – and not the Ohio State Buckeyes – will take on Stanford in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. Iowa (12-1) authored its first undefeated regular season in 93 years, advanced to the Big Ten Championship and came within one play of making the College Football Playoff. Ohio State (11-1), meanwhile, had one fewer win and was underwhelming for much of the season.
Still, is it surprising that the Rose Bowl chose the Hawkeyes over the brand-name Buckeyes?
“I’m not,” Bleacher Report college football columnist Adam Kramer said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “The committee clearly . . . thought a lot about Iowa. I think in a lot of ways – I don’t necessarily feel this way – but Iowa’s close loss, a hard-fought loss to Michigan Sate, was the first amount of respect they got (from) a large part of the population that had been tuning in. That game probably did more for them than any of their wins, so they seem like a very suitable option. The other thing is, Iowa travels extremely well. Really, really well – better than most teams out there. So when you’re wondering (whether you have) to worry about that, no, the Hawkeyes are going to move the needle.
“So playing that extra game, it’s kind of an interesting situation,” Kramer continued. “Should you penalize a team for playing that extra game? I think that’s the right decision. I think it’s the right call. (It’s been) kind of a dream year for Iowa. And look, the consolation prize for us and Ohio State is the fact that they get to play Notre Dame. They probably give us, outside of the playoff games, maybe the most intriguing bowl matchup of them all.”
Interestingly enough, The Rose Bowl choosing No. 5 Iowa over No. 7 Ohio State may be the most postseason controversy we have – and it’s not even that controversial. Indeed, it was a pretty clean final four for the committee.
“I think in general people who are very much in favor of an eight-team playoff or something different, these first two seasons have not helped that cause,” Kramer said. “You had a bit of controversy last year with the Big 12 being out and Ohio State’s spectacular effort against Wisconsin being rewarded, but then they won the national championship and things worked out. And then this year, after such a wild year in what felt like impending chaos, the whole thing worked out beautifully. There was really no debate or discussion. The fact that we’re talking about seeding being the primary source of debate just speaks volumes about how clean it was. It won’t aways be that way. There will years where there will be chaos and you’ll have three or four teams that are angry about this, but not this year. It’s amazing how clean it sorted itself out.”