Stanford vs. Iowa Rose Bowl Pick
After coming up just short in the Big Ten Championship, will Iowa give Stanford a game when the two teams clash in the New Year's Day Rose Bowl at 5:00PM ET?
The point spread for this game has danced between 6 and 6.5 over the past few days. But according to oddsmakers from online sports book RealBet.eu, the Cardinal is a 6.5-point favorite over the Hawkeyes as of this writing. As for the total, the number opened at 53 but has been bet down to 52.5.
Stanford won its last three games to finish the season with an 11-2 record and also went 9-4 against the spread in 2015. Iowa didn't lose until the Big Ten title game against Michigan State and went 12-1 straight up and 7-5-1 at the betting window. Somewhat surprisingly, college football public bettors are split 50/50 on which team will cover in today's Rose Bowl.
The Hawkeyes' biggest test will be to slow down Christian McCaffrey, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy race after breaking Barry Sanders' single-season record for all-purpose yards (3,496). But Iowa should be up for the challenge. They finished 10th in nation in run defense, allowing just 114.9 yards per game. The Hawkeyes also held opponents to just 18.5 points per contest, which ranked 13th in college football.
Iowa's offense also received a boost when running back Jordan Canzeri said that he's healthy and ready to play in today's game despite suffering an ankle injury in the Big 10 Championship. Granted, Stanford finished 37th in the nation in run defense while allowing just 146.3 YPG this year. But the Cardinal allowed 6.4 YPC (vs. Oregon), 4.3 YPC (vs. Cal), 8.5 YPC (vs. Notre Dame) and 5.3 YPC (vs. USC) in its final four games of the season.
McCaffrey will have his moments. That's what playmakers do. But there's value for bettors in taking an underdog that plays defense and can run the ball. Even if Stanford has more overall talent, bettors don't have to worry about Kirk Ferentz's team not being prepared.
ROSE BOWL FREE PICK: IOWA HAWKEYES +6.5