Why Iowa Was Selected to Play in the Rose Bowl Ahead of Ohio State

By Tim Shoemaker on December 6, 2015 at 7:18 pm
The Rose Bowl.

Urban Meyer has never been to the Rose Bowl.

And after Sunday's announcement which paired his Ohio State team with Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, the Buckeyes head coach will wait at least another year before getting that opportunity.

"Never been to the Rose, but no, there is no disappointment," Meyer said Sunday. "You start talking about that level of football, that level of bowl game and that level of an opponent you're going to play, you just get locked on and put laser lights on to where you're going."

With Michigan State defeating Iowa late Saturday night and advancing to the College Football Playoff, many thought Ohio State had an opportunity to still play in the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten's representative. To do so, the Buckeyes just had to finish higher than the Hawkeyes in the final College Football Playoff rankings. 

When those rankings were released Sunday, Iowa came in at No. 5, Stanford was No. 6 and Ohio State was No. 7. As a result, it would be the Hawkeyes and Cardinal playing in Pasadena. 

There were arguments to be made for both sides as to which Big Ten team should have been ranked higher as Iowa and Ohio State have similar resumes. Each has a three-point loss to Michigan State and each has a top-15 win: Iowa over No. 13 Northwestern, Ohio State over No. 14 Michigan.

The Hawkeyes played for a Big Ten championship, though, and the Buckeyes did not. And even though Iowa did not win that game, it certainly benefited from the opportunity, according to CFP committee chairman Jeff Long.

"We felt like Iowa had proved more almost in a loss than they had in the previous body of work. It certainly added to the piece," Long said on a conference call Sunday. "They were inches away from a victory, so I do think that this very close loss kind of validated the entire body of work for Iowa, and we saw them as a very good team.

"I think it would be fair to say there were questions as we went through the season about Iowa, I think, and this is a case where they validated themselves through a very, very close loss."

Even though it was irrelevant in the big picture of things, Ohio State was also jumped by Stanford in the final rankings. Long explained that decision, as well, on the same conference call.

"You look at [Stanford's] full body of work, they've got two top-25 wins, one top-10 win against No. 8 Notre Dame, and Ohio State has a win against No. 14, Michigan," Long said. "I think all of those things added together. The body of work resulted in Stanford being slightly ahead of Ohio State. Again, we're talking about very close teams here and very difficult discussions about which one is better."

The committee simply felt Iowa had a slightly better resume than Ohio State so it ranked it two spots higher. There were no other outside factors. That's why the Hawkeyes are headed to Pasadena instead of the Buckeyes.

In the end, the rankings are all that mattered.

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