Hogan just the third quarterback, and first Pac-12 signal-caller, to start three Rose Bowls. McCaffrey can't touch the kickoff (out of bounds), but no one can touch him the very next play, Stanford's first snap from scrimmage. The play looked similar to McCaffrey's long catch-and-run against USC in the Pac-12 Championship in that he came out of the backfield, juked one linebacker, and then caught about 10-15 yards downfield, open in space. Unlike against USC, however, no one was going to lay a finger against McCaffrey this time, as he sprinted 80 yards for the game's opening score.
Stanford 7, Iowa 0, 14:45 remaining, first quarter
Brent Musberger mentions that Iowa stays in its base 4-3 defense no matter the opposing personnel, so that play might be there all night for the Cardinal. Be interesting to see if and how the Hawkeyes can adjust in that personnel grouping to shutdown the much quicker McCaffrey.
Key to the game when Iowa has the ball will be stopping the run. The Hawkeyes start from their 28 and run twice for three total yards, but throw in a false start and an offsides, and the Hawkeyes get another crack at second and long. It's a checkdown to the tailback in the flat for six yards, but still a third and two will give the Card a chance to get off the field. Ronnie Harris gets away with physical coverage, breaking up a four-yard out, and Christian McCaffrey fair-catches at the Cardinal 26.
Reminds me of our last two Rose Bowls in which we jumped out to early leads, only for our Big Ten opponents to make things more interesting down the stretch. With a seven-point lead, an offense that has proved unstoppable since mid-September and now the ball, time to build the lead.
No. 5 earns a second touch after taking the first one 75 yards, and he runs for five up left guard, then for 25 on a handoff off-tackle right (behind a great Austin Hooper block), and then for another 19 off-tackle left. Barry J. Sanders takes for two and then, on the first pass of the game, Hogan has all time but can't find a open Trent Irwin on a drag 15 yards downfield. Third and nine at the Hawkeye 27 and McCaffrey looks dead to rights on a screen behind the line of scrimmage, but one missed tackle and it's a 13-yard gain, move the chains.
Wildcat, McCaffrey for another eight. Next snap, fake right to McCaffrey, Hogan keeps running left, and No. 8 has a eight-yard rushing score. [Edit: On replay, we see this is a zone read look, with Hogan keeping after the backside defensive end bails playside to chase McCaffrey.] After a Kyle Murphy false start, Pasadena native Conrad Ukropina makes a slightly longer extra point.
Stanford 14, Iowa 0, 9:13 remaining, first quarter
Total yards are 149 to eight, with McCaffrey accounting for 140 yards just five minutes in. Card averaging 16.6 yards per play – a meaningless stat after just nine offensive snaps, but fun nonetheless.
Iowa in another third and short, this one four yards, and C.J. Beathard comes up limping after Kevin Anderson hits him legally, but hard. However, Beathard is accurate on a quick in over the middle, so move the chains for Iowa's first first down of the day. Iowa hold pushes the Hawkeyes into likely passing territory – and it's Beathard scrambling for seven, and then checking down to tight end Krieger-Coble for another seven. Third and six and Beathard runs again, this time for 14, to the Card 43.
Iowa hasn't thrown it downfield, and hasn't run it between the tackles, yet with some dumpoffs in the flats and two timely Beathard scrambles, the Hawkeyes have advanced to the Card 37, where they now face third and three.
Bye! Quenton Meeks jumps an obvious flat route that Beathard stared down, and the Hawkeyes dialed up one time too many. Meeks catches cleanly and with his momentum taking him right to the Cardinal end zone, no one is going to catch him. The rout is on after a great opening 10 minutes!
Stanford 21, Iowa 0, 4:07 remaining, first quarter
A few thoughts:
1. What a year for the defensive backs yet again. Duane Akina appears to be the position coach of the year for the Cardinal between our recruiting at the position and our results there as of late.
2. What a bad last 24 hours for the Big Ten. Sure, Michigan wins in the undercard Citrus Bowl over a zero-dimensional Florida team, but Michigan State and Iowa trail a combined 59-0 thus far.
3. Does Iowa ditch the running game, which looked to be its best shot to attack Stanford's D, given the score? Taking the opening kick and then building this quick 21-0 lead plays right into the Cardinal's hands if so.
Iowa runs twice up the middle for seven yards, and then Beathard gets snowed under by three defenders on a third-and-three coverage sack. Musberger is pointing out how the Hawkeyes' struggles on third and short have defined the game so far, and he's not entirely wrong.
Stanford's offense finally blinks, with the Card going three and out, and Iowa appears to be going nowhere fast in its two snaps before the quarter ends. Looks like this game is starting to settle down – but with a 21-point lead in Stanford's back pocket.
Stanford 21, Iowa 0, End First Quarter
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