PASADENA, Calif. — Iowa waited 25 years to make a return trip to the Rose Bowl, and it took only 11 seconds for the Hawkeyes to get stunned.
Christian McCaffrey raced 75 yards into the end zone on Stanford’s opening drive not long after Iowa’s players charged onto the field and revved up the black-and-gold-clad fans in the north end zone. The Hawkeyes’ cheering section quickly went silent.
The sixth-ranked Hawkeyes had no answer for McCaffrey and struggled on offense in a 45-16 loss to No. 5 Stanford on Friday, ending a season in which they opened 12-0 for the first time in school history.
McCaffrey set a record for most all-purpose yards in Rose Bowl history with 368. He finished with 18 carries for 172 rushing yards and had four catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. McCaffrey also added a 63-yard punt return.
During the game, he became the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season in Stanford history.
McCaffrey, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, also became the first player to top 100 yards rushing and receiving in the 102-year history of the Rose Bowl.
Comedian and Iowa native Tom Arnold, croaking hoarsely during an in-game interview, vowed the Hawkeyes would rally in the second half.
And they did, outscoring Stanford (12-2) 16-10. But it was too little, too late after they gave up a game-record 35 points in the first half.
The Hawkeyes (12-2) got a 39-yard field goal by Marshall Koehn late in the third quarter after C.J. Beathard was sacked twice. Beathard threw his only two TD passes in the fourth quarter, when the Hawkeyes trailed by 29 points. Matt VandeBerg caught a 36-yarder, and Akrum Wadley scored on a 31-yarder with 2:46 remaining.
Iowa was the last team to be blanked in the Rose Bowl, losing 28-0 to Washington in 1982. The Hawkeyes were beaten 46-34 by Washington in the school’s last appearance in 1991.
This one was much worse.
One night after Michigan State lost 38-0 to No. 2 Alabama in the Cotton Bowl, the Big Ten stumbled badly again.
This blowout was well under way in the first half, when Iowa trailed 35-0. As if Hawkeyes fans weren’t already bummed, they booed heartily when Stanford’s band offended their Midwestern sensibilities with a galloping costumed cow that tipped over at halftime.
Iowa’s second drive of the game ended with Quenton Meeks’ 66-yard interception return, giving Stanford a 21-0 lead.
Beathard fell to 13-2 in his career as Iowa’s starting quarterback. The junior was 21 of 33 for 239 yards, with one interception and seven sacks.
LeShun Daniels was the Hawkeyes’ leading rusher with 37 yards, while VandeBerg was the leading receiver with four catches for 64 yards.
McCaffrey struck again in the second quarter, scoring in front of Iowa’s silent band on a 63-yard punt return for a 28-0 lead. The Cardinal extended the lead to 35-0 when Michael Rector caught a 31-yard pass from Kevin Hogan and cruised into the end zone without a defender covering him.
The Hawkeyes ended the season with consecutive losses, having been beaten 16-13 by Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game. That cost Iowa a berth in the College Football Playoff semifinals.