Dec. 27, 2015
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- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By JAMES ALLAN
LOS ANGELES — It is back to that familiar time for the University of Iowa football team. Three weeks after learning its bowl fate, the Hawkeyes are in the midst of game week preparation for the 2016 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual.
No. 5 Iowa faces No. 6 Stanford in the 102nd Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1 in Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasedena, California.
“Now that we are five days away from game day, you start to focus in more each day,” said junior quarterback C.J. Beathard. “We’re in to a game week now like we were all season long.”
Iowa passed its first 12 tests, rolling to an undefeated regular season for the first time in program history. Friday’s matchup presents the Hawkeyes with a new set of challenges.
“(During the season) you don’t have time to dilly-dally around,” said junior Matt VandeBerg. “It’s boom, boom, boom, work, work, work. This is a different challenge for us. It’s nice to get back into that routine of getting back to practicing and preparing for an opponent (during game week).”
Five days is all that remains from the Iowa’s first Rose Bowl appearance in 25 years. It’s game with national exposure. There will be pregame jitters.
“It’s a big game,” said junior running back LeShun Daniels, Jr. “It’s one of the most important games of the whole year. You get a nervous feeling as game time gets a little bit closer.
“As long as we’re focused on our preparation at practice and in the film room, that nervousness will go away once the game is kicked off. If you know you’ve prepared well, you can go out and compete well.”
That’s why the Hawkeyes are excited to be back in their routine.
“You can’t get ahead of yourself,” said senior offensive guard Jordan Walsh. “We have to get back to what we’ve been doing with practice and preparation.”
The Hawkeyes are devising a game plan to face off against Stanford and its 3-4 defensive scheme — one that allows 23.1 points per game. Iowa faced a similar scheme Oct. 3 at Wisconsin in its Big Ten Conference opener, which resulted in a 10-6 victory.
“We are not going to go in there and score a bunch of points on them,” said Beathard. “It’s going to be a battle. Coach has put together a good game plan for us, giving us the best opportunity to win. It’s going to be going out and executing it.”
It’s surreal for Beathard that he’ll be playing in the Granddaddy of Them All come Friday.
“It kind of hits you, you’re five days away from game time, and it’s The Rose Bowl Game against a great opponent,” he said. “We have to make sure we stay focused and are ready to go come game time.”
If Iowa’s past routine and performances are any indication, that won’t be a problem.