Dec. 6, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — C.J. Beathard was sleeping when news broke that the University of Iowa football team accepted a bid to play Stanford in the Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2016. When he woke, Iowa’s quarterback and captain might still have felt in a dream.
Playing in the Rose Bowl was on Beathard’s “Bucket List” years before he imagined quarterbacking the Hawkeye football team in a Big Ten Championship Football Game. When Beathard was 15 years old, he attended the 2008 Rose Bowl — a matchup between Southern California and Illinois, where his uncle, Kurt Beathard, was on the coaching staff.
“I dreamed of playing in that stadium and now I am getting the opportunity,” Beathard said. “It is a historic stadium and bunch of great players have played there. It is a classic place; it’s surreal. What a great environment to play in.”
The family connection doesn’t end there. C.J.’s great uncle, Pete Beathard, was MVP of the 1963 Rose Bowl when he quarterbacked Southern California to a 42-37 win over Wisconsin.
No. 5 Iowa (12-1 overall) is making its sixth appearance in the Rose Bowl, but its first since 1991. The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten Conference in 2002, but because of the Bowl Championship Series format at the time, they went to the FedEx Orange Bowl instead. UI head coach Kirk Ferentz was an assistant coach here in 1982 when Iowa lost in Pasadena to Washington, 28-0.
“The Rose Bowl is the granddaddy of them all,” Ferentz said Sunday at a news conference inside the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center. “When you think of the Rose Bowl, you think about tradition and you always play a tremendous opponent. That will be the case this year.”
“The Rose Bowl is the granddaddy of them all. When you think of the Rose Bowl, you think about tradition and you always play a tremendous opponent. That will be the case this year.”
UI football coach
Stanford, ranked No. 6 by the College Football Playoff Rankings, is 11-2 overall and winner of the Pac-12 Conference with a league record of 8-1. The Cardinal lost in their season opener at Northwestern, 16-6, won eight straight before losing to Oregon, 38-26, then closed with three straight wins, including a 41-22 decision over Southern California on Dec. 5 in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
“Every game’s important to win, this one would be a great, great accomplishment,” Ferentz said. “But we also know it’s going to be a great, great challenge. Stanford has an excellent team and an excellent program. Ever since (head coach) David Shaw has taken over, they have been a quality football team. They have continued a great legacy there.”
Shaw has been head coach at Stanford since 2011, compiling a record of 53-14 with trips to five bowl games and three Rose Bowls.
Likewise, Ferentz is no stranger to success or the postseason. In 17 seasons with the Hawkeyes, he is 127-86 with five seasons of double-digit wins. This will be Iowa’s 13th bowl trip under Ferentz.
Ferentz was still on Hayden Fry’s staff in 1986 when the Hawkeyes lost in the Rose Bowl to UCLA, 45-28.
“To finally get that invitation is special,” Ferentz said. “Most of all, I’m excited for our players. It is one of those opportunities you hope comes your way, but it’s tough to earn it.”
For the next 26 days, the phrase “unfinished business” might be heard a lot around Iowa’s football complex. Not just because the Hawkeyes are looking to snap a three-game bowl skid dating back to a 27-24 win over Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl. Or that Iowa has not won a Rose Bowl since a 38-12 victory against California 57 years ago. More importantly, is to add a Hollywood ending to the 2015 season that began with 12 consecutive victories.
“There was excitement when we got the news,” UI senior safety Jordan Lomax said. “We wish we could have gotten the win (in the Big Ten Championship), but it’s time to move forward and turn the page to Stanford. They have a great football team and it’s a great opportunity for us.
“This will test our team. It’s all good when everybody is winning, but you find out how strong a team is when they take a loss and see how they bounce back from that loss.”
For Hawkeye fans wanting to purchase tickets to the Rose Bowl Game, click HERE.